Dear Cat,

  First let me start by saying "It's gonna be okay, kid". Over the next few years you're going to learn quite a lot about what it means to be your actual self. There are some tough years ahead but girl, it's gonna be okay.

You will struggle with depression. Like...a LOT. I know you already do, and that's okay. Just remember that what those other kids are saying...they're just regurgitating how they're treated by others; by their parents, their peers, and you my darling actually have nothing to do with it. Just let it go.

I will say this though, you're in for an amazing ride. You will marry an amazing man who wants nothing more than to stand by your side. You will create a service that helps girls and young women (just like you) to see their most beautiful self. You will help women of all ages discover their own power simply by reflecting the woman you see in front of you and give them the gift of portraiture that will outlive generations. You will travel the world. You will work your butt off. And at times you will wonder how you ever moved past even this very moment but in the end...it was just the beginning.

I'm so sorry for spending so much time not believing in you. In us. Also, I forgive you for being so tender-hearted that you took the thoughts of others at face value, as if it were truth. Your truth is to simply stand up and create. Cherish that creation, dear one. It means everything. It is the world.

I love you.

Always,

Cat

Left - Cat Ford-Coates age 12 (1988/89) Right - Cat Ford-Coates, age 40. Image courtesy Lauren Gregory Photography

Left - Cat Ford-Coates age 12 (1988/89)

Right - Cat Ford-Coates, age 40. Image courtesy Lauren Gregory Photography