On the occasion of Michelle Obama’s 48th birthday, ESSENCE magazine’s editor-in-chief Constance C.R. White wrote a letter to our First Lady. Read it here, then write your own letter to Mrs. O in the comment section — we’ll feature the best ones on ESSENCE.com, and forward all letters written to the First Lady. UPDATE: Read some of our favorite reader tributes!

To The First Lady of the United States of America:

It must have been a joyful day on January 17, 1964 when you arrived in the world as Michelle LaVaughn Robinson. Marion and Fraser Robinson III, your parents, your big brother Craig, your relatives, and neighbors on Chicago’s South Side were the first to see that beauty and to experience your grace, wisdom, and spirit that would make you stand out in every endeavor you chose.

On this, your 48th birthday, we want to express just how much your warmth, wisdom, spirit, and beauty mean to Black women here and around the world. As our first African-American First Lady, you have gracefully made the role your own, while still being an amazing wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and volunteer.

We know that what you do isn’t always easy. But the work you do on behalf of military families and our children is so necessary for our community and our nation. Thank you!

Michelle, in this critical year, we want you to take a bow. As we celebrate your birthday, please do what you have encouraged women all over the world to do, and what you have urged Black women to do in the pages of ESSENCE… take time for you.

You have at last given the world a full view of who we know Black women are: Optimistic, intelligent, complex, loved, loving, sexy, brilliant, spiritual, stylish, and funny. The world is ours!

Happy Birthday, Michelle Obama!

Peace and Love,