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Mothering › Child Articles › Would You Let Your 9 Year Old Shave Her Legs

Would You Let Your 9-Year-Old Shave Her Legs?


By Suzanne Leigh



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.


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.


Comments (6)

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Prepubescent children also have hair on their arms and legs. I remember when I was 3 years old I noticed this and said, "Mommy, I'm growing fur!" I don't know why the author seems to think that leg hair shows up the same time as pubic and underarm hair? My seven-year-old is sitting right here and her shins are covered with downy blonde hair, and have been for years.
I shaved my legs/underarms for about 5 years as a young teen. I hated it. I always had ingrown hairs. Then I didn't shave for 21 years. This year, in the interests of presenting a 'professional' appearance, I've begun using a beard trimmer to trim very short (but not shave completely smooth). It feels like a good compromise. I still wish I'd never shaved, though! My daughters will hear all this and make their own choices.
I think it should be left up to the individual girl. I don't think not shaving as a particularly "Brave" choice? Why? Some of us enjoy being smooth and clean shaven. If we never tried it, how would we know if we liked it?
I let my daughters decide on their own when and where they wanted to shave. Some started at 10 some at 12, but I wasn't allowed to shave when I was a young girl. My mother had issues with "Growing up too soon" but to me it was just one more issue for the Mean Girls to make fun of. So, when I had my own daughters I left it up to them when they started shaving.
FTR, our youngest dd has a mild form of Asperger's and didn't realize she was getting really furry or when she needed to bathe around 11. She was invited to a swim party, and not only some of the Mean Girls were going to be there, and I felt that it would be easier to control a strong tendency towards sweating she had in puberty to learn to shave. I showed her how, she was a bit scared, but she wanted to do it. Now, at 13 she needs absolutely no help with self care activities, and showers and shaves on her own. There were some touch and go moments for a while, though.
She's such a strong independent girl and our school has such a great anti-bullying program that we have run into few problems (a child with an astronomical IQ, Aspergers and Tourette Syndrome would have been living an impossible life where I grew up where people thought "kids should work out their own differences.") She feels better when she is clean shaven (I don't know about pubes, it's really none of my business) and I felt it was helpful in teaching her self care activities, something that kids with Aspergers often have a hard time "getting."
I feel there is nothing wrong with NOT putting yourself right in the path of being tormented. Some "fitting in" is actually good for some children who are so different than their peers in so many ways.
Your mileage may vary.
My oldest started shaving at around age 10, her choice. Not because she was embarrassed, but because she didn't like the feeling/look of the hair. She and her sister both have very dark hair. My youngest just turned 10 and expressed that she also wants to start shaving soon. 
I agree with letting my child choose when she wants to shave and where.  Are there any moms out there that have told their daughters about grooming their pubes?  I'm not trying to be a perf but this is a situation that I am currently faced with and don't know what to do.
Mothering › Child Articles › Would You Let Your 9 Year Old Shave Her Legs