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When is it ok for girls to start shaving/hair removal?


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#26 Freddie'sMum

Posted 08 July 2019 - 08:30 AM

Lucia - that is so awful for your little girl.

I'm another one who did the dry shave disaster when I was about 12.  All the other girls in school had clean, shaven legs and I had lots of dark hair leg and I wanted to fit in.

I don't want that experience to be our DDs experience so along with a lot of books about puberty, and growing / changing bodies in our house, I am more than happy to give some options about hair removal to both DDs from now on.  DD#1 is 14 and hasn't spoken to me about it yet.  DD#2 is 11 (turning 12 this year).

#27 Octopodes

Posted 08 July 2019 - 08:41 AM

View PostCimbom, on 08 July 2019 - 08:28 AM, said:

I don’t get the attachment to body hair. I’d allow it as soon as they asked to
And I don't get the desire to remove it.

#28 Ellie bean

Posted 08 July 2019 - 08:45 AM

View PostOctopodes, on 08 July 2019 - 07:15 AM, said:

The same reason I wouldn't allow makeup until the child was old enough to buy their own or hair dying. It is what the act represents historically. I would hope that any daughter I theoretically had would have the confidence and awareness to recognise shaving/waxing/make up are not things historically done for the betterment of women, but to please men. I would hope they were able to stand up to peer pressure and be who they are instead of bending to conservatism and following ridiculous cultural norms.

That said, I understand a child is not their parent and just because I refuse to conform, doesn't mean a pretend daughter would follow suit. I wouldn't encourage it, but would accept it if the child felt the need to alter their body for society.

On the age thing, Both sides of our family are late developers, there's unlikely to be any hair to remove before 13-14.
I don’t expect a child to have the same confidence to flout convention that a grown woman has.

#29 BeachesBaby

Posted 08 July 2019 - 08:49 AM

Even though my mom was very, very conservative (still have never talked about sex, didn’t talk about periods, etc), she took me to have my very thick eyebrows and lip waxed when I was probably 11-12. She mentioned she plucked her own eyebrows as a kid and made them much too thin, so she’d prefer a professional start me out. I don’t think I even asked for it, but I was really glad, as I have very dark hair (Italian and Spanish heritage). That said, I started shaving with my older sister’s razor and can still feel the patches of skin I removed from not knowing how to do it properly!

If I have a daughter I’ll be like many others here who have offered support and guidance to their children when they’ve asked for it, or looked to be developing more hair. It’s so great to read so many of you are supportive of your daughters’ bodily autonomy!

#30 Kreme

Posted 08 July 2019 - 08:50 AM

View PostOctopodes, on 08 July 2019 - 08:41 AM, said:

And I don't get the desire to remove it.

So you are free to keep it. But if you actually had a teen daughter, which you don’t, you may find they want to remove it.

My mum was against removing body hair, so she kept all of hers and expected me to do the same. Resulting in years of teasing and having to work it out for myself, often not successfully.

It’s really easy to say what you would do with an imaginary daughter, and make yourself sound like the most principled feminist ever. But reality is much more nuanced.

#31 EmmDasher

Posted 08 July 2019 - 09:15 AM

When they want to within reason (ie I think I’d baulk if the were under 10). I’d expect them to have sufficient dexterity to manage the process on their own.

I never asked. When I was 10 I just started using my mums razor in the shower and shaved my own legs. It wasn’t a disaster and I didn’t cut myself up. No one even noticed until months later and by then the horse had bolted.

The “oh you have blonde hair, it’s barely noticeable, you don’t need to shave” is bullsh*t and infuriating. It is what my mum used to say to me (when she found out) and it used to make me feel unheard and dismissed. Thick/long blonde hair is  noticeable, especially in the sun. But it was noticeable to ME and I cared about it. Scaring kids with furphies about hair growing back darker, thicker or faster is equally weird.

Hair removal is transient and so easily grown back. I don’t think I’d ever invest the energy into holding an arbitrary age line.

#32 amdirel

Posted 08 July 2019 - 09:19 AM

I allowed my DD to start when she wanted to, but only as long as she understood that there is upkeep involved, cost, effort, and she understood the different options of removal. I did encourage her to wax rather than shave, which she agreed was a good idea. So she started this year at 13yo, after thinking about it for a year or so prior.

#33 Kreme

Posted 08 July 2019 - 09:34 AM

View PostEmmDasher, on 08 July 2019 - 09:15 AM, said:


Scaring kids with furphies about hair growing back darker, thicker or faster is equally weird.


This! My daughter has fine blonde hair on her legs. Did I think it warranted shaving? Probably not but I’m old and lazy. It bothered her, so she started shaving it. And guess what, it is still blonde and fine even after a year of shaving.

#34 ceeshell

Posted 08 July 2019 - 09:41 AM

Regarding the feminism stuff: my mother actively discouraging me from removing body hair didn’t feel like she was helping me to shake off the patriarchy. It felt like I was being controlled.

Teaching my daughters that they have a right to bodily integrity that others must respect is more important to me than shunning sexism by growing body hair.

That said, my children see me in all states of hairiness. Sometimes I shave my legs/underarms and sometimes I don’t. I rarely do anything much with my bikini line aside from a very occasional quick clean up (I have had laser on the ‘koala ears’ and hair that would show outside of a normal swimming costume). We are a naked household with one bathroom so they see me in all my glory quite a lot. I figure me normalising body hair and my very relaxed choices about whether I remove it or not is probably more effective at showing them that they are in control of it than me discouraging them from removing it at all.

Also: I am a very fair blonde person. My children are of Greek descent and have far more body hair than I ever will. Their legs have been very hairy since they were six. The hair on their knees is so dark and thick it looks like they have been kneeling in dirt. All of this is fine if they don’t care about it, but I also don’t think it’s up to me to tell them how to feel about it when I don’t have any experience in managing it.

#35 hills mum bec

Posted 08 July 2019 - 09:43 AM

I don't think you can set an age that would suit everyone.  All girls develop at different ages and if they feel self conscious about it then I don't see any issue with removing it.  My DD15 would have been about 12 when she started shaving her legs and underarms.  She started plucking her eyebrows when she was 13 and at 14 she was waxing her own lip.  She does have dark European genes so her hair is quite dark and thick.

#36 Octopodes

Posted 08 July 2019 - 09:49 AM

View PostEllie bean, on 08 July 2019 - 08:45 AM, said:

I don’t expect a child to have the same confidence to flout convention that a grown woman has.
I do. I would expect a child growing up in the 'anything goes' generation to stand up for themselves. Children today accept every sexual preference under the sun as the norm, they don't see skin colour or religion, they are the most accepting generation we have ever had. Why then are we still encouraging them to kowtow when it comes to physical appearance? You want gender equality? Then females need to stop living by the male standard expected of them and it starts at a young age. Shaving, make up, dressing a certain way, it is all pandering to the patriarchy. Teaching our daughters this is normal is setting us back yet another generation.

#37 Lucrezia Borgia

Posted 08 July 2019 - 09:55 AM

while acknowledging that shaving legs, shaving under arms is an artificial beauty standard imposed on women...and a double standard at that - as not too many teen boys care about hairy legs (yes yes i know about cyclists and swimmers - i wrote “not too many” to cover the exceptions) - by the same token, as others have pointed out...it’s a bit much to expect teenage girls to take on this fight with so much other stuff going on...the desire to “fit in” along with a general discomfort around the changes brought about by puberty - we’ve all been there. so - from an “autonomy” POV if a girl going through puberty wants to start shaving, then i of course would facilitate that.

i do wonder though if we inadvertently spark the desire in the first place...i mean, these choices don’t occur in a vacuum....that hair on your legs is undesirable but hair on your head is fine is not a unique position for a girl to take - that’s falling into line with cultural expectations. if a young girl says “i’ve now got hair on my legs and i am 100% fine with that” then that should be applauded...and i do wonder if sometimes subtle comments plant the seed of doubt - “are you worried about fitting in? you might feel much cleaner if you shave...”

#38 Octopodes

Posted 08 July 2019 - 10:02 AM

Teenagers are massing in the streets trying to get governments around the world to pay attention to climate change. They care about inequality and are insistent on change. I think your head is in the sand if you can't see they are already doing their bit to change things for the better. Explain to them why living up to the patriarchy is bad and most of them will probably jump onboard the feminism bandwagon willingly. Inaction is largely caused by lack of education.

#39 lozoodle

Posted 08 July 2019 - 10:11 AM

Honestly all this living up to the patriarchy stuff is just BS. If someone wants their legs hairy, let them be hairy. If they want them smooth, let them be smooth.

I refuse to attempt to control my child and think it much better to just provide her the information she needs to be able to make the informed decision for herself. Ultimately, if they want to do it, they'll do it regardless. I'd rather she feel supported in doing what she felt right for her own body.

I couldn't give a sh*t if men think I am a hairy beast or expect me to be smooth. When I shave my legs, I do it for me because I like the way it feels when smooth. But also other times when they're really hairy because I just can't be bothered at that time, I'm equally happy. The opinions of anyone, and the expectations of society, do not even come into the thought process.

Talk about overthinking what is just not a big deal. Its only hair. It'll grow.

#40 EmmDasher

Posted 08 July 2019 - 10:13 AM

Has anyone ever had this level of discussion about when or whether boys should shave their faces?

#41 amdirel

Posted 08 July 2019 - 10:16 AM

View PostEmmDasher, on 08 July 2019 - 10:13 AM, said:

Has anyone ever had this level of discussion about when or whether boys should shave their faces?

Yes.

#42 Cimbom

Posted 08 July 2019 - 10:17 AM

Hair grows back. Just because they decide to shave it off now it doesn’t mean they can’t make a different decision later on. And it’s her hair, not yours.

If I had a daughter I’d focus more of my energies on teaching her about the value of being independent and being able to look after herself in a material sense. Many modern feminists are too obsessed with pointless symbols that “send a message”.

#43 EmmDasher

Posted 08 July 2019 - 10:18 AM

Fair enough, I don’t have boys so it’s not a conversation I’ve heard.

#44 FloralArrangement

Posted 08 July 2019 - 10:20 AM

Octopodes

As the mother of 4 daughters from 24-10 years, the reality is very different. We don’t get a lot of hair early and it’s light. When dd’s have asked late 12 years and up I’ve had a look and said “try and hold off a bit longer because when you start it never seems to end”. It’s never been an issue for them. They started after that age sometime.

Except when dd3 was in year 4 and shaved her eyebrows off, brilliant memory via school photos.

#45 Lucrezia Borgia

Posted 08 July 2019 - 10:24 AM

yeh it’s a bodily autonomy issue thing - i mean if a 13, 14 year old girl wants to shave her legs (putting aside any cultural expectations that’s may have informed her “choice”) then, realistically, how are you going to stop it? even if you don’t have razors in the house, can’t she just go up to the local IGA and buy a packet of gillette’s? they aren’t restricted purchases (or are they....not sure)..but anyway..seems like a weird hill to die on, if she wants to do it, she’ll do it. i certainly don’t think we should encourage them to do it. and in fact, for what it’s worth - we should probably be encouraging them NOT to do it.

wrt boys and shaving faces - that seems to me to be more of a personal preference thing than the cultural expectations around women and hairy legs. we are currently in a very hirsute era as far as men’s beards go - even the full on ned kelly beards. judging from the high school near me, many male teens are not shaving their beards.....

#46 Octopodes

Posted 08 July 2019 - 10:26 AM

View PostEmmDasher, on 08 July 2019 - 10:13 AM, said:

Has anyone ever had this level of discussion about when or whether boys should shave their faces?
Yes. With my then 8yo son. He is now 12 and has no intention of ever shaving, just trimming for hygiene reasons.

It has nothing to do with control. It is about presenting historical facts and explaining the implications of their actions.

Oh, and the 'I don't control my child' is BS. Do you make them go to school? Eat certain foods? Refuse to allow them to wear certain clothing? Make them wash their bodies? Brush their teeth? Stop them getting in the car with a stranger? You control your child in a hundred different ways everyday.

#47 Lucrezia Borgia

Posted 08 July 2019 - 10:35 AM

yes we exert control over them - even in the teen years..but the degree to which we do it lessens over time, surely - particularly around issues concerning bodily autonomy - how they wear their hair, if they put makeup on, if they wear nail polish, how long they have their nails, what clothes they wear...


#48 WaitForMe

Posted 08 July 2019 - 10:39 AM

My general answer is when she wants to but...


View PostLucla, on 08 July 2019 - 08:12 AM, said:

My poor 6 year old has already started asking to. Her 'friends' keep making comments about her hairy arms and legs and she wants to shave it all. Ive been holding her off but I don't even know what to do, she is already so self conscious about it :( :annoyed:

This makes me so sad.

I don't know, I think I'd be talking to the school about that. It won't make the problem go away but hopefully it will decrease it a bit.

And I have no idea at what age the "when she wants to" kicks in... if they are too young to do it themselves are they too young? Is removing the hair at such a young age better or worse for her than leaving her in a situation in which she is teased?

#49 Mollycoddle

Posted 08 July 2019 - 10:45 AM

View PostOctopodes, on 08 July 2019 - 07:15 AM, said:

The same reason I wouldn't allow makeup until the child was old enough to buy their own or hair dying. It is what the act represents historically. I would hope that any daughter I theoretically had would have the confidence and awareness to recognise shaving/waxing/make up are not things historically done for the betterment of women, but to please men. I would hope they were able to stand up to peer pressure and be who they are instead of bending to conservatism and following ridiculous cultural norms.


It's not always to please men.  I agree with the sentiment that women often say they are doing something to please themselves (ie. long hair, wear makeup etc) because the norms are so entrenched that they can't recognise it.  But I think hair removal is the exception because it's about more than just asthetics, there's a sensory component to it as well.  I can't stand the feeling of hair on my skin in sensitive areas, especially under the armpits it feels unclean to me.  You will probably say I'm also subscribing to some form of social conditioning with the latter comment but meh, I also believe it about the hair on my head hence I remove most of that as well so I'm not just being selective about where I apply these feelings.

Back to the OP, whether or not my kid wants to remove their body hair isn't a battle I could be bothered to fight so I would let them as soon as they want to.  And I don't understand the waxing love, it takes literally 5 minutes every few days (or even a week if you have light growth like myself) to shave both legs with a good razor.

Edited by Mollycoddle, 08 July 2019 - 10:51 AM.


#50 Lou-bags

Posted 08 July 2019 - 10:46 AM

View PostOctopodes, on 08 July 2019 - 09:49 AM, said:

I do. I would expect a child growing up in the 'anything goes' generation to stand up for themselves. Children today accept every sexual preference under the sun as the norm, they don't see skin colour or religion, they are the most accepting generation we have ever had. Why then are we still encouraging them to kowtow when it comes to physical appearance? You want gender equality? Then females need to stop living by the male standard expected of them and it starts at a young age. Shaving, make up, dressing a certain way, it is all pandering to the patriarchy. Teaching our daughters this is normal is setting us back yet another generation.

It’s not only other teens they’ll be interacting with though. Acceptance by their peers is one thing, having to live their convictions, outwardly every day in the face of jerks and a**hole is another thing. And should be their choice.

Also ‘don’t see skin colour or religion’ is bullsh*t and actually only adds to oppression. Pretending you’re so woke you don’t ‘see’ something adds to the marginalization and oppression of minorities. People want to be seen and accepted, and their struggles and the systemic oppression they live acknowledged. Not ‘when I look at you, I don’t see a woman/wheel chair/head scarf/black person’, which is incredibly invalidating.

(No... I don’t speak for everyone, but I have been following many many inspirational people on social media etc and ‘I don’t see...’ is as far as I can tell pretty universally unpopular).




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