Rihanna needs to do something about the men in her life.  First, we have Chris Brown, who I like to call the new-age Ike Turner, and now her father Ronald Fenty, who seems to think that the fat-shaming of his daughter is a key factor in her success.  Fenty’s recent interview with Heat Magazine may shed light on why Rihanna seems so willing to put up with abusive behaviour.

Our first role models are our parents; for those raised in a two-parent heterosexual household, that means mothers and fathers.  There is a constant social emphasis on how boys need their fathers to teach them how to be men, but girls also need their fathers to model what a good man is and how they should demand to be treated by their partners (should they happen to be straight, of course).  Speaking on the role that her absentee father played in her life, Halle Berry once stated, “If I had a good father in my life growing up, then I do not think I would have made the mistakes I made. I would not have been lost in love.”

For many women, our fathers serve as our primary model of masculinity and those of us who choose to partner with men often notice that our spouses share very significant qualities and character traits with our fathers.  From the time that I was a little girl, I knew that I wanted a man to treat me the way that my father treats my mother.  I knew that settling for less would not make me happy.  However, Rihanna’s father doesn’t seem to take the intimate partner violence his daughter endured very seriously.  According to The New York Post, Fenty said, “Chris is a nice guy and everybody’s entitled to make mistakes in their life. God knows how many I’ve made.”

As if those remarks were not vile enough, he went on to discuss her weight.  “I actually thought she was a little fat the last time I saw her,” he said. “When I saw her at this year’s Grammys, I thought she was back to her normal size.  I used to joke with her, ‘Robyn, you’re getting too fat.’  But I think she’s fine.  I think she looked excellent, as everyone saw, at the Grammys.  She’s dieting, she’s working out.”

A mistake is forgetting your girlfriends’ birthday, not beating her until she is covered in bruises. Abusers are charming people; they have to be in order to instill confidence on the part of their victims.  They build confidence, separate the victim from their support group, and systematically attack the victim’s self esteem to prepare them for the idea that they deserve to be beaten and abused.  To the outside world they appear to be charming and sweet, but in private they are violent, controlling and cruel.

Chris Brown assaulted Fenty’s daughter, yet he is ready to forgive him and chalk it up to an innocent mistake, thus ignoring the cruel and abusive act of violence Rihanna suffered.  Fenty’s dismissive attitude toward intimate partner violence, as well as his judgmental comments on his daughter’s diet and body image, speaks volumes regarding his position on women.  Is it any wonder that Rihanna decided to go back into the studio with Brown, when her own father is not capable of validating her bodily integrity enough to be enraged at what she endured?  Fenty may well have seen this as being a supportive father.  Perhaps he even thought his statements would validate Rihanna’s autonomy; however, a parent’s job is to tell their child the hard truth, even when they don’t want to hear it.

Any kind of interaction between Rihanna and Chris Brown will not be good for her emotional, and potentially physical, health.  Brown continues to act violently in public and has on many occasions attempted to thwart responsibility for his actions. This is, after all, the same man who saw winning a Grammy as validation for his behavior.  Brown took to Twitter to write, “HATE ALL U WANT BECUZ I GOT A GRAMMY Now! That’s the ultimate F**** OFF!”

From his language, it’s clear that Fenty is an emotionally abusive father.  Rihanna is at the top of her game, and since becoming aware of her, I have yet to see a single image of her so-called fat body.  He clearly does not have a positive attitude and sees being fat as something shameful, something to be avoided at all costs.  After reading his comments, I wondered if Fenty realizes that there are fat people who go to the gym and work out regularly?  It is more than possible to be fat and look good, as well as to simultaneously be in good physical heath and be fat.

Fenty is not far removed from Chris Brown because he engages in abuse as a mechanism of controlling women.  Calling Rihanna fat and demanding that her body conform to his standard of thinness is absolutely controlling behavior.  His comments suggest that she is not worthy of his love or attention should she fail to remain within his image of bodily perfection.  This is classic abusive behavior.

I no longer wonder about the hold that Chris Brown has over Rihanna.  If Fenty is her primary male role model, no wonder she doesn’t believe that she deserves more from a relationship than to be beaten, controlled, and abused. Children who grow up in abusive homes often repeat the same patterns in their adult life, as both Rihanna and Brown have so clearly done. Breaking a pattern of abuse takes serious work because it means fighting an understanding of violence that has become ingrained in the formative years.  Clearly, Brown has identified with the oppressor and Rihanna, unfortunately, seems to have identified with the victim.

What do you think?

  • LAD86

    What do I think?

    I think no amount of blog posts are going to make Rihanna change her behavior. I also think it not proper to tell someone what they *need* to do based on our own feelings (This goes for anyone, not the author in particular).

  • tk

    I think people should just leave Rihanna alone already, she has chosen to forgive, it’s her life and she will do as she pleases father or no father.

  • Wow

    Rihanna was fat? I cant blame Rihanna for appearing insecure at times. Its hard not to be with a father like this.

  • chanela

    (Should they happen to be straight of course) wait huh?? is the author implying that only heterosexual couples can have domestic violence?if it is a couple of either two men or two women and they emotionally and physically beat the shit out of each other, then its fine cause they are the same sex???

  • LAD86

    Not at all, I think. What I inferred was that a woman who isn’t heterosexual probably wouldn’t be looking to her father to ‘model what a good man is and how they should demand to be treated by their partners’ since she isn’t dating men to begin with.

  • LemonnLime

    Bam! This right here. Riri is going to do what she wants. If she wants to be in a abusive relationship with a living douchebag it is her choice not mine and it has no impact on my life.

  • Monie

    My father has been in my life since day one, and I still made some pretty silly decisions while dating. But I do agree with one thing, even though I may not have picked the best guys to be with I always had the prototype of what a man should be like because my father was there.

    Not all the blame should be put on the father, some young ladies like myself learn by my making mistakes….leave Ms. Fenty alone, her decisions are hers alone. Now the only reason why its such a big deal is because of her status as a performing artists which makes the situation even worse….

    And the fat statements he could have kept to himself……

  • OSHH

    I get the point of the article and read the comments.
    ITA that having the right examples and relationships with your parents growing up can can greatly reduce the amount of mistakes made later on in life.

  • kita

    I think this blog is taking a comment made by her father to the extreme. It could be that in her family they value good health and it is represented by having a slim figure. Why must his comment be abusive if he just wants his daughter to represent those values. Now his comments towards CB behavior could be questioned but its also just one comment from one point in time. Who is to say that more hasn’t been said behind closed doors to Rihanna. Also culture wise carribean men are more traditional than american men. So let’s factor that into the situation as well. So at the end of the day I say its none of our business and that no matter what side we take we are not Rihanna and this is not OUR story/life.
    Thanks and have a good day.

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    RETIRE/KILL Chris Brown and Rihanna posts! *YAWNING*

    To be quite frank, fat shaming as it is called in America is a big deal!
    In Africa, if I met somebody and they have added weight I would tell them, “Dang girl, I see you eating real good! Share your secrets!!!! BIG DEAL!

    Iunno-she seems to be trying to reconcile with her father. Prolly she needs to get him some PR training!

    In essence, death to this riri/chris brown posts! Occupy#life and let them be!

  • B

    I like this article. I enjoyed the “message’ of it regarding the dad/daughter relationships and breaking a pattern that has been instilled in you since birth. However, like most, I am tired of reading about rihanna and Chris Brown.

  • Renee

    he’s island. island parents say rude things. one time, my mother patted my belly and told me “clearly you’ve been eating.”

    also… rihanna’s gonna do what she wants

  • http://www.twitter.com/amanilovejoy Amani

    I would like to go a day without reading an article on Chris Brown and Rihanna on Clutch please!

  • Jaslene

    No she is not implying that.

  • 80s born, 90s raised

    why is he even doing an interview?

  • http://eclecticspectrum.wordpress.com Afia

    I agree with the so-called fat-shaming. I’m Ghanaian. If you put on weight you put on weight.

    As for his comments about Chris, that’s his opinion. We can speculate about their lives until we’re blue in the face but they are all adults.

    I do think this situation is a teachable moment for everyone especially young people.

  • Elle

    I am extremely disappointed in this ignorant article. While I do not condone Chris’ past or current behavior, calling him a modern day Ike Turner is a bit of a stretch. You’re comparing him to a man who shamelessy abused his wife in front others for YEARS, committed spousal rape and was a known drug addict.
    I think you’re taking this fat comment a bit too far. He couldve been joking, he couldve been misquoted. His comments in interviews isn’t enough to determine that he’s emotionally abusive, maybe that’s how they talk in their family. Don’t act like because you read a few things that you know all about her life because you don’t.
    Nothing bothers me more than when women who have fathers or ‘good fathers’ that speak on those of us who don’t.

    Let me tell you, my father popped in and out of my life. He beat my mother for over a decade in front of me and not ONCE have I dated nor ever considered dating a jackass that abused me in any kind of way. I’ve never had a guy call me a bitch, I’ve never even had a guy flinch at me like he’s about to hit me. Don’t sit up here and generalize women with absent father’s like we’re these torn, tattered, weak souls that don’t know what good men should be like. My mother had a good father but she stayed with a man that abused her and so did several other women that I personally know have been through domestic abuse.

    Blaming your parents for your emotional issues only goes so far. At a certain age you should be old enough to know better.
    Maybe Rih is dealing w some emotional struggles but who the hell are we to tell her how she should be dealing with them? She’s a human being. Get out of her business already, damn.


  • Rayna

    I understand where the writer is coming from but I often ask myself why the victim of abuse must always be the one asked to go out there and “behave like a victim should” and I also wonder why it is Chris Brown “doesn’t deserve to have a life or a career”. With the sheer number of black men who are incarcerated while white men are usually given a chance to redeem and resume their lives….I think that we all need to take a step back. Aren’t we doing the same to Chris? What do you want him to do? Stop working and fall into a life of crime? He’s not a college student..so I don’t see him becoming an accountant. He supports the feeding of other people children when he works…let’s look at a big picture.
    If Rihanna feels it’s in her best interest to do a song with Chris Brown then why are you being JUST AS ABUSIVE and trying to “shame her” into walking around with the memory of that night with her? She’s not a teacher…she’s a singer in the same industry as him who wants to be able to walk around and go to the same events without people saying “oh we can’t see Chris because she’s here” LET THAT GIRL LIVE HER LIFE!!!! She’s already under stress….

  • Rayna

    Oh and by the way…I am from Jamaica and we appreciate some curves…however, her daddy knows she’s in an industry that appreciates thin women. Why wouldn’t he be concerned she’s doing something that might affect her? Were you all shaming Beyonce when she went on her MasterCleanse to lose 20 pounds for Dreamgirls? Rihanna is a singer in America and unfortunately…Americans don’t wanna see fat singers #thatisall. Rihanna would be fine in Barbados but yall are too judgmental a country so she gotta keep that weight down.

  • http://www.womanist-musings.com/ womanistmusings

    I am not attempting to shame her. I think that she is acting like a typical victim of domestic abuse actually. It takes a woman an average of seven times before she leaves her abuser and ceases contact. This piece is more about the fact that children raised to accept abuse as normal tend to either identify with the abuser as Brown has done, or identify with the victim as Rihanna has done. Abuse happens in cycles and Fentys comments help to illustrate that. What he said amounts to emotional abuse and though emotional abuse does not get the kind of attention it deserves, it is still a form of violence against a person.

  • http://www.codeemphasis.blogspot.com Clarity Jane

    Sometimes I find some of the articles on here really unforgiving and judgemental of anything that doesn’t comform to the perfect American citizen.
    I don’t really care for Rihanna or Chris Brown but It’s like everytime I come here I’m bombarded with some article that creates a forum for the holier-than-thou to scrutinise them.

    No matter what you think of Rihanna and her music or the way she conducts herself she’s made a successful career for herself and she’s worked hard to do so cuz you wont make it unless you put in work. Yes she’s made some questionable decisions in her life but it’s her life and no matter how many fans she’s got, she has to live her life for HER

    As for her father, why is her fair game now too? His comment is being blown way out of proportion. For one, it’s actually quite common for the older generation in the caribbean to say what they think in terms of how you look. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t think Rihanna is ‘fat’ but maybe he noticed a slight weight gain and mentioned it, it’s not a big deal, people use certain words in the wrong way or context all the time but now he’s responsible for Rihanna’s insecurity?…..The man shows a little compassion for Chris Brown who made a terrible mistake when he was 19 and is obviously still struggling with his anger issues andnow that’s cause for Rihanna ‘to do something about the men in her life’?? He didn’t say she go and be his baby mama, he’s just saying that he’s forgiven him that’s all.

    As for Chris Brown, He’s a 22 yrs old, he’s still very young and the young man he is now isn’t necessarily the man he’s going to be when he’s 30. He beat Rihanna when he was 19 and as far as we know has never done it again. He obviously has some ongoing anger issues but like I said he can still change.

    Rightly or wrongly, she’s chosen to have him back in her life for whatever reason, why can’t people just accept that? So much focus on celebrity lifestyle, people should be focusing on their own kids and teaching them how to make the right choices in life based on their own judgement rather than what some singer or rapper is doing.

  • taylor

    The headline of this post is a little disgusting. It’s not her job to do anything about the men in her life. It’s their responsibility to act like respectful human beings, not her responsibility to change them or leave them or anything else.

  • MW


    I’m from the West Indies and I remember the first time I visited home in college: my mommy said she ‘almost walked past [me];’ cuz I’d gotten so ‘fat’.

    It’s not something he should have said and considering it’s in the NYP the whole statement is dubious but I wouldn’t be surprised if his daughter chunked up a loud stupes to his comment.

    Additionally, in my culture, domestic abuse is complicated primarily because of such a prevalence of this opinion: physical abuse in a relationship is often just an anecdote and emotional abuse isn’t even considered real.

  • Lampkin

    I agree… she’s grown therefore.. she should be able to do whatever she feels the need to do…
    ..Quick Question?? Has she took this WIFEY quiz EVERYBODY been talking bout http://goo.gl/bKOGP ..too FUNNY

  • Jazzy

    “His comments suggest that she is not worthy of his love or attention should she fail to remain within his image of bodily perfection.” – very unfair statement! As we say in the south, He said no such a thing. You don’t know Mr. Fenty personally so how can you “suggest” that his comments about her weight determine his love for her. Some people don’t filter their comments especially as they get older, my father is one of those people. His brutal honesty is one of the many straits that I’m proud to have inherited. Speaking of my wonderfully charming, loving, overly generous and affectionate, straight-talking father, his role in my life can be described as ‘EVER PRESENT’. Yes he always demanded that I conduct myself as a lady. He always took care of me and I never doubted how much he loved me and how much he would be willing to sacrifice to provide for any of his daughters (5 in total) and his wife. However, his actions toward my mother weren’t always chivalrous. They have been married for 40 years (September 2012)!!! They had their share of ups and downs (the most severe incidence caused them to sleep in separate rooms for 3 months). His role in my life and the example of love & commitment that I’ve witnessed over the past 30 years have no bearing on the decisions that I’ve made about men and how I choose to be engaged with them. My mistakes with men and relationships – too many to count and I didn’t see any similar behavior in my own household growing up. Mr. Fenty’s comments about CB, I agree were questionable, but to compare his “fat-shaming” comments to CB’s violent attack – again, very unfair!

  • chanela

    Okay we get it!! my god you people sound like a damn broken record. you think everybody doesn’t know shes a fucking adult? why does everybody feel the need to keep repeating the obvious? of course its not our life, But people share their opinions on things all the time. nobody was saying all this “let them live” stuff when people had the best and worst oscars/grammys outfits. it wasn’t you wearing those ugly dresses yet you gave your opinion on how you felt about them right? why do people spazz out just cause someone wants to express their opinion??? calm the hell down. noone is telling them not to live its just this person’s opinion.

  • http://adayinthelifeskg.blogspot.com Sonie

    It’s important to remember the social and behavioral norms and differences between American culture and other cultures. Rihanna’s father’s comments are certainly insulting. But as someone raised in and exposed to non-American cultures all my life, I am not shocked to hear his point of view. There are many places in the world where a man reigns supreme, and can do what he wants. When I read his comment about Chris being allow to make mistakes, I interpreted it as, “Chris can do what he wants. He went a little too far and got caught this time, and will know better for next time.” It is extremely unfortunate and appalling, and I hope that Rihanna can find peace within herself and in her personal decisions.

  • Y.

    It’s a West Indian mindset. I was teased for being too skinny and was called string beans by a grown man old enough to be my Grandfather. If you are too skinny they will comment if they think you getting too fat they will comment. For them it’s not out of a spirit of trying to tear you down. It’s just there own off beat way of wanting the best for you. Any one here from a West Indiam family can clearly relate to this.

  • Bella

    I, like many of the commentors, come from a hugely patriarchal society where emotional abuse is considered constructive criticism and physical abuse is loving a person. These ways of thinking, in fact, being called abuse, is something I only learned as abuse because I grew up in America. Also, sexual abuse was always somewhat the victim’s fault, at least, as long as she isn’t wearing anything sexy, and somehow asking for it, then it is completely their fault. Some of our cultures would have us believe that men are out-of-control, bestial creatures that have hump anything on their way home from a walk. Telling a woman that she got healthy is code for she got fat and woman begin to lose their looks after 16. Men are often hypocritical where they say they love curves but what they really mean is that they love big tits, curvy hips, and a small waist…either that, or they are trying to get laid.

    This isn’t to say that these behaviors do not exist in the American world. Abuse, rape, eating disorders all exist in the Western world, but most westerners do not use their culture to excuse abusive behavior. Usually you will only find the victim of the abuse defending and making excuses for her abuser, and even then, most will vehemently decry abuse when it happens in others. It is one thing for the daughter to excuse her father or husband, but when her community excuses it, that is hard to wrap my head around, especially when her community is not isolated on an island, instead it is global, that should challenge people’s inclination to use things such as culture or religion, even, when it comes to mistreating anyone.

  • sholla21

    “I no longer wonder about the hold that Chris Brown has over Rihanna. ”

    Me neither. Great article. Except for the title, I agree with with the author.
    As soon as her father opened her mouth and I learned that he used to beat her mom, I understood some of the decisions she’s made.

  • sholla21

    I really appreciate your comment. I keep seeing people say, oh it’s cultural, as if it makes it okay. I too come from a patriarchal society where emotional abuse is considered constructive criticism. It’s still emotional abuse and it’s still wrong and we should challenge it. Many violent practices against women are also “culture”. Does it make them good?

    I personally no longer accept so-called “constructive” comments coming from people of my “culture”. Just because you grew up thinking disrespecting, controlling and insulting people is culturally acceptable doesn’t mean I will allow you to do it to me. It’s sad the things some women are willing to be subjected to because “it’s cultural”. Screw that. Nobody has a get out of jail free card to disrespect me lol.

  • Bosslady

    Snap! British of Nigerian descent, and my mother has straight up told me when I put on weight! I’m really glad she did as I honestly didn’t see the amount of weight I had put on until I lost it and looked at old pictures.

  • Kacey

    Agreed. I’m from the Caribbean and I can’t tell you how many arguments I’ve had with my mother when trying to explain how domestic violence, child abuse and sexual abuse are not the victim’s fault (she thinks the notion of verbal abuse is complete bullocks!) She grew up in a time and place where, even though these things were happening and well-known to the community, no one ever spoke about them, much less reported them. Things are changing (especially as American values and culture gets absorbed around the glove, for better or for worse) but many of those patriarchal, blame the victim (especially if its a woman) attitudes still persist.

  • Kacey


  • Jinx Moneypenny

    Your opinion of course. She’s good, because I wouldn’t have anything to do with my dad if he was walking around giving out interviews like it’s going out of style.

    On top of that just because it’s embedded in the Caribbean culture to fat-shame doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. I’m tired of people defending the bullshit. Get all the way outta here with that.

  • Elle Michelle

    I agree that some of the articles on this site are unforgiving and judgmental. No one has the authority to tell another adult what they “need” to do. Whenever someone said “you should…” or “you need” they’re crossing the line. Advice without permission is criticism.

  • EbonyLolita

    Yeah as the daughter of a West Indian father I have heard the….. “Girl you getting big yu belly look like you’re pregnant.” comments here & there. Thank God for the good sense of self esteem b/c my tongue is just has cutting as that remark.
    People need to understand that just b/c it’s a cultural norm doesn’t make it acceptable. Cultural norms hide VERY destructive behaviors.
    Rihanna’s father was abusive to her mother so we all can see the forest beyond the trees there. What he needs to do is focus on getting HIS life right & stop chattin to the media about his daughter’s business.
    My favorite quote is “Stop feeding the trolls” I betchu if Rihanna was strong enough to cut him off he’d learn to stop chat so damn much!!

  • sogone

    ^^this right here. you go girl. i thought this article was weak. too much OVERgeneralizations…stereotypes…little to nothing to back it up

  • chinaza

    You need to stop generalizing about father-daughter dynamics since it’s different for everyone.
    A father does not have to live in the same household nor be a regular presence to be a good father/ role model.
    Conversely,there are fathers in the home everyday whose families wish them gone because they are no good.So an absentee father is a relief for some children.
    Rihanna’s father is a late and questionable presence in her life but I think she wants to give him a chance.
    As for Caribbean culture,it’s complex like any other but weight is not a taboo nor an obsession as in America so there is no shame nor insult attached to fat.
    In Barbados,specifically, the traditional culture is also matriarchal not patriarchal because women head and finance most homes.
    So the mentality and confidence in Bajan women is a lot stronger than in some western cultures.
    Rihanna is a product of that and she is a very strong,focused young lady so don’t be misled.

  • Bella

    I can definitely relate to this mindset, but it is still wrong. These old men, aunts, and other elders are controlling a person’s self-esteem and it isn’t well-meaning when it is about vanity and being appealing rather than a person’s health. I’ve received both kinds of comments, from being too skinny or too fat. Not only do both kinds of comments cut a person down, making a girl feel self-conscious, but when the comments are about weight gain, it is more derogatory or critical than comments about being too fatto. In fact, these people usually think that being too skinny isn’t such a big deal because things will balance out after she has a baby. To me, that means that she’ll grow tits and ass and look sexy in the long term and her husband won’t have to worry about getting fat after pregnancy. Again, I don’t mean to say this mentality is restricted to certain cultures, but we are awfully good at excusing such behavior based on culture and what we are used to rather than being progressive.

  • Donald K Sumner

    Better a patriarchal society than a matriarchal society. Rhianna has a great father!

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    @ Bosslady,

    e-hugs!!!!! I didn’t know you are my fellow Naija sistah!!!! uh oh!!!! how u dey?!

  • A

    I def understand what you are saying. Im African and when reading the article i didn’t see any problem in what was said. My father always commented on my weight even though i have never weighed more than 135. My mother will say things like i don’t want an ugly daughter cause of one pimple. I don’t have self-esteem issues. And my cousins and siblings who grew up in similar environments don’t either. My friends who are west indian have gone through the same thing. And we are all fine. Its just a cultural difference. Constructive criticism is def something you hear a lot of.

  • sunshyne84


  • Lee in London

    I am in actually awe of this article and not in a good way. Rihanna cannot help the way her father is nor can she control Chris Brown. Likening Chris Brown to a ‘new age Ike Turner’ is a going a bit overboard. Chris hasn’t been violent to his current girlfriend (as far as we, the public, know of) and he doesn’t have an extensive history of domestic violence. Chris was punished for his actions and now it is time for him to move on. How many articles are there on this site encouraging women to look past our troubled pasts and mistakes and move forward with our lives and here you are actively throwing up Chris’ mistakes in his face time and time again! If Rihanna has forgiven him, why do you have such a problem with it? She was the victim, not you, and she has decided to move on.
    As for her father, he has to learn on his own accord, it’s not really for Rihanna to do anything. This article was not necessary. Stop with the Chris Brown backlash and encourage these two young people to positively move on with their lives. Sheesh.

  • Spencer

    It is amazing how it always the mans fault and the women are always victims. Who knows what really went on in that relationship. How do we know she wasn’t the one who instigated the situation. This is nothing but a male bashing rant.!

  • Kay

    Clearly, this writer was not raised by West Indian parents. They are very blunt in their speech. They don’t mean harm but they do believe in brutal honesty. That’s just the way they talk and joke. Her father’s comments are blown out of proportion. When my mom thinks I am gaining weight she says I’m becoming fat. Now I am known as meg in my family and can always stand to gain some weight so it is definitely a good comment. I think that this article should be retracted because the context is not understood.

    In regards to Chris Brown, that’s her father’s way of saying that he accepts Chris Brown’s apology.

  • mable hastings

    Real honesty is loving, not a weapon. Justifying hurting someone as “brutal honesty” is an attempt to put lipstsick on a pig. Cultures evolve. If what you say is true about your culture, then it needs some work.

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