My 9-year-old daughter was examining her legs. “Why do I have this?” she said, pointing to the fine hair that was starting to sprout around her shins.
“Oh, that’s normal. All girls start to get that, especially as they get closer to their teens,” I said.
“Will it go away when I’m a grown up?”
“Actually no, the hair can get thicker as you get older. Adult women have hair on their legs and their underarms,” I explained, wondering whether mentioning the pubic area would be TMI at that particular moment.
Marissa looked confused. Earlier that day, I’d sneaked a peek at a celebrity website and had glanced at paparazzi pictures of the Kardashian “girls” in their bikinis, poolside. Contrary to what I had just explained to Marissa, the women’s limbs were as smooth as a newborn’s.
No wonder my daughter was confused.
While scanning the Huffington Post recently, I came across a shocking picture: Was that a man wearing a miniskirt? In fact it was perhaps the bravest picture a woman could ask her boyfriend to take. Spanish journalist Paloma Goni posed in all her hirsute glory for an article in which she wrestled with a debate that many of us have had with ourselves: After three months of not shaving, she says that she is tempted to continue “enjoying my dark jungles,” but fears the stares and criticism she attracts as a “hairy woman” in a society in which “little by little bikini waxing is becoming a matter of course.”
“Teenage girls, when they start to grow hair, need to know that they can choose, that they decide if they want to shave or not. That both options are valid,” she writes.
I so agree with Goni, and I’m wondering if this generation of girls, my younger daughter’s age, will have the courage to say no to the razor blade.
For now, Marissa seems to accept the downy hair that has started to appear on her lower legs. I’m curious to see if this acceptance lasts. I won’t be standing in her way if she tells me that she wants to shave, but I’ll be quietly applauding her if she doesn’t.
About Suzanne Leigh
Suzanne Leigh is a freelance health writer, a Huffington Post blogger and a childhood cancer advocate. More importantly, she is the mother of two gorgeous girls. She blogs about her family at The Mourning After Natasha.