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slut shaming, sexting, misogyny, shaved, Mean girls, raising girls, hair, shaving, waxing, self-esteem

I Shaved my 7-Year-old

by Deborah Cruz

Last fall, I received a personal laser hair removal system because I’d already shaved myself silly for the past 30 years and waxing hurts my feelings. My 7-year-old saw it and asked what it was. I told her. Then, she mentioned the hair on her arms. She said if the laser hair removal treatment worked, she wanted me to use it on her. I took notice but didn’t want to make a “thing” of it. It felt like a little punch to my gut that this was a concern of my 2nd grader. It broke my heart a little.

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I’ve always believed that when my daughters came to me about hairy legs, out of control eyebrows or the inevitable extra lip hair (because God knows I am living proof of maintenance) that I would help them. It wouldn’t be an issue, until they came to me if it bothered them. As long as they love the skin they are in, that’s all that matters to me.

I remember being in middle school myself and having hairy legs and my dad forbidding me to shave my legs. I had to wear ugly tube socks to hide the Sasquatch I was evolving into. It was humiliating. Eventually, embarrassment and humiliation got the best of me, I butchered shaved my legs and nearly took my ankle off with it. I never wanted my girls to have to sneak and shave their legs, tweeze their eyebrows or, heaven forbid, wax their mustache. Mostly, I never wanted them to feel that awkward humiliation or be stumped when someone else pointed out what they already knew.

So, when my 7-year-old came to me for a second time last night and asked me if I could laser her tiny little arms, I looked her straight in the face and asked her, “Why do you want me to take the hair off of your arms?” And she answered, “Because it bothers me, Mommy.” I made the decision to stick by my guns and I agreed to shave her arms.

You see when she originally asked about it, I consulted my aesthetician and she recommended shaving her arms. When my daughter came to me, very seriously, after several months and still wanted the hair gone. I had to do what was best for her.

I took her to my bathroom. I explained that hair is natural and we all have it. Some of us have more than others but that if this were what SHE wanted, I would shave her arms. She was sure.

I washed her arms. Lathered them with shaving cream and almost surreally,

I shaved her tiny arms from her elbow to her wrist.

When we were done, she hugged me and said, “Oh, Mommy! They are so smooth. Now, I don’t have to wear my fleece every day in class to cover my arms!”

She was ecstatic. She ran downstairs to show her dad and her sister. And then I died a little bit inside, as I held back the tears because I realized that she hadn’t given me the entire story.

I followed her downstairs, pulled her aside and asked, “Baby, why do you wear your fleece every day in class?”

Then she said something I never wanted to hear, “ Well, *Sophie asked my why my arms were so hairy. Then she told me they were weird. Then she laughed.”

I can tell you that as a mom, I wanted to punch this other 7-year-old in the face because she has put it in my daughter’s head that her arms are weird because they have hair on them. That will never go away. She’s never going to forget that moment that someone laughed and called her “weird” because of her body. That infuriates me.

I know some of you reading this are thinking why on the earth would you shave your 7-year-old’s arms? I realize that it sounds vain and cosmetic and no I don’t want to encourage my girls to believe that they need to change to meet society’s expectations of beauty. This wasn’t about that. This was me helping my daughter feel better about herself because it bothered her just like I would take her to a dermatologist if she had acne or get her braces if her teeth were crooked.

I shaved my daughter because that’s what she needed to feel happy in her skin.

I’m thrilled my daughter feels more confident without the hair on her arms but I’m hoping, since I didn’t have the entire story, that I didn’t send the wrong message. I don’t want her to think she has to conform to other people’s concept of beauty because I think she’s perfect already.

What would you have done in this situation?

Would you have shaved your 7-year-old if you could see it truly bothered her?

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Tracy Gibb 2015/03/09 - 2:48 pm

I have the very fair skin of my English grandmother and the dark hairiness of my Greek grandmother so I know what it’s like to have hairy arms and legs which is soooo noticeable. I also shaved without shaving cream because I couldn’t stand it anymore and I will tell you that I would 100% do that for my daughter.

Deborah Cruz 2015/03/09 - 10:08 pm

I understand completely. I am fair skinned Latina but definitely hairy and I would never just shave my daughter but I’ve always known that when it became an issue for them…and they asked me to do something about it, I would do something about it. So I did.

Antonymous 2017/03/05 - 10:53 am

Hi, I can really understand you do it to help, do you also shave your arms as well?
, I know you did it to prevent mean comment and shaming related to body hair. It’s true that it’s just hair and shaving doesn’t hurt and one simply keeps doing it regularly just enough to prevent slightly uglier and darker hair from growing back, not a big problem, although a line has to be drawn over something less controllable and much more compromising to change. Let’s say they’d want her to conform in dressing. She might be asking you that too.
Another commenter that she haven’t even asked her said that while her daughter saw her shaving her legs and arms, she asked her if she would like have hers to shaved too. She did it for the same reason, of course not if she didn’t want, so it’s quite difficult to do it, especially in this case communicating at the same time that her nothing is wrong with her body hair, but that shaving is just not a big deal.
Back on dressing and other conformisting grooming or image – behavior pressure, what if in high school say she’s dressing demodè or let’s say prudish, with no explicit prudish intention in her dressing, but just to their massified standard? Note that I’m far from conservative saying that. I’d be the first to say it’s just clothing or that it’s just hair and that you’d help her if that’s what she actually wants but can we really talk about wanting something when it comes from such a pressure about something she probably would have rather give little damn on her own?

Mari 2015/03/10 - 8:47 pm

I’m hairy as well and remember going behind my mother’s back in elementary school to shave my legs when a boy made a comment. I remember always saying I would give my daughter options and choices. Seven seems sort of young yet for something that is not a one time thing but as her mom you have the right and you must choose what route you feel is best. If she was happy with results that is awesome but also as parents we have responsibility to teach our kids that cosmetic fixes are ok but what is really important is how great we feel from the inside out. Thanks for sharing, hope your little one grows up to be really comfortable in her own skin, even if a little hairy, lol I know I made peace with hairy in my arms a long time ago.

Deborah Cruz 2015/03/10 - 9:24 pm

I never made peace with my hairy legs. I shave them daily. Even at 10 months pregnant, it was just something that I had to do but it makes me feel better about myself, less self-conscious and I think that’s a good thing, right?

Kelly 2015/03/11 - 10:44 am

I don’t know what I would do in that situation. Giving someone else’s words so much power is what gives me pause. People will say things-but somehow we have to teach our kids to not take their words at face value. But what comes through loud and clear is your love and unconditional acceptance of her. I hope that’s what impacts her more than anything.

Ann 2016/09/04 - 9:45 pm

My daughter is 7, almost 8, and has very, very long thick dark hair on them. I have shaved them for her twice in the last couple months. She didn’t ask, but I know how mean kids are. If she didn’t want them shaved I wouldn’t do it. I just casually asked her as she watched me shaving mine. She loved having smooth legs. People don’t understand but it works for us. I’m not ashamed, and I don’t think age matters.

Antonymous 2017/03/05 - 10:31 am

Oh, well I understand, you like to shave your legs and arms, so you asked her if she would like you to shave hers too, I know you did it to prevent mean comment and shaming related to body hair. It’s true that it’s just hair and shaving doesn’t hurt, suffice one keeps doing it regularly to prevent slightly uglier hair from growing back, not a big problem, although a line has to be drawn over something less controllable and much more compromising to change. Let’s say they’d want her to conform in dressing. She might be asking you that too.

Erika Segoviano 2018/01/05 - 9:38 pm

Thank you for writing this. I needed to know that another mom is feeling how I am… currently going through a similar situation with my 6 year old 🙁 breaks my heart. Your story helped me out. Thank you. Again.

Antonymous 2018/11/29 - 10:49 am

I dunno, Erika, the problem is not shaving per se which is not a big deal but who expects them to be hairless and why. It’s too soon to conform to arbitrary canons of femininity, which are so invasive and more burdensome than boy’s and go beyond just dressing or acting the part, which also shouldn’t be compulsory and prescriptive and both boys and girl should feel free to mix up behaviors and preferences as they see fit (on toys, passions, dressing (which is more taboo for boys ironically), and all of this, when one isn’t even growing breasts of having periods. Moreover it’s about taking off a sign of maturing of a child’s body, which sends the message, at this age that little girls in particular should act as if their body is less grown up than boy’s ones. Same for the idea that at the beach little girls have to cover up their torso with swimsuits and even a bikini top is considered exposing too much while not applying this to boys at an age where both of them have no breast at all! Saying it’s for the pervs adds as usual the burden to girls as if they don’t target boys as well. In this case we say its’ for bullies, but as usual the bullies are free.
I’m sure most of these parents are not part of the problem, but for a portion of them, they act as if they are the only one which are late to fit in, or their girls are the last ones, are we sure it’s not a feedback loop, a chain reaction, not to invoke a slippery slope, as I’m against that, but part of fitting in can involve becoming part of the new “fashion police” recruit bullying, maybe in more subtle ways, other girls which are later to the party of fitting in because they are not as precocious on body hair, say at middle school.
Are we gonna teach her to ally to the girls not shaving yet in middle school and learn from this experience, if they choose to shave, or remaining neutral, not building a net and feeding the loop?

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Ashley S 2020/09/10 - 9:12 am

I know this is a late comment on an old post. But I wanted to thank you for writing this. I’m Latina and my daughter will be 8 next week and she tried to shave her legs last night after sneaking my razor into her bathroom. When I asked her why she would want to remove the hair, she complained that she didn’t like the dark black hair on her legs and she didn’t want it anymore. It reminded me of my own mother when she would not let me shave until I was 16 and even then, she tried Nair (which we quickly learned that I was allergic to).

I’m still on the fence about letting my daughter remove the hair, but I’m glad that I am not the only parent that has had to face this.

Deborah Cruz 2020/09/15 - 12:41 am

Honestly, it wasn’t a big deal. As long as they are doing it for themselves ( meaning they aren’t doing it to please other kids) because who cares what other people think. I’m trying to raise strong girls who do things because they choose not because society says so. I’ll tell you, my daughter is now 13 and while she does still shave her arms every few months ( because it makes her feel better to do so) she is not preoccupied with what others think and honestly, is a very confident young woman. I remember being embarrassed by the hair on my legs and it was hard because my dad wouldn’t let me shave my legs until I was 16 too. I remember wearing knee socks for my gym class freshman year because I was so embarrassed. Good luck mama, you’re doing your best. Just do whatever works for you and your girl and don’t worry about what anyone else says.


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