I’ll never forget sitting in 4th grade math class when the most popular girl in school walked in with shiny, slick, hairless legs. She wouldn’t shut up about how her mom taught her how to shave the night before. She was an adult now. She was better than all of us. I was just a peasant– a little, hairy peasant.
It’s a defining moment in a 10-year-old’s life. Of course, I thought I was old enough and mature enough to shave my legs so why was this little brat in my math class allowed to do it and I wasn’t? My mom had a million excuses about why I shouldn’t start shaving yet. To be honest, 10 year olds seem like infants to me now so I totally owe my mom a break on this one, but at the time, convincing my mom to let me shave was the most important thing in my life. If you have a young daughter, remember that. If all the girls in school are doing it, she’s going to feel left out if she’s not doing it too. It may seem like she was just kicking the inside of your uterus, but she’s a big girl now, and by the time she’s 10-12, shaving is entirely appropriate.
When you feel the time is appropriate, try bringing it up to her. It shows that you’re open and understanding of what’s going on in her life and what’s important to her. This doesn’t mean that she should start shaving right away, but it’s always good to open the conversation. Start by asking if her friends have started shaving or if she notices or is bothered by her body hair.
If she happens to bring up shaving to you first, don’t freak out. She’s not asking where babies come from; there will be much harder conversations you will have to have with her. This one should be easy. When she starts saying things like, “My legs are so hairy,” or “Jessica’s mom lets her shave,” take those as not-so-subtle hints that she wants to start.
When you both agree that she is ready, invest in a good razor for her. Don’t just hand her the used one from your shower. Buy her a razor with four to five blades for the closet shave. Giving her a used or dull razor, or one with only one or two blades can cause skin irritation, like razor burn, and ingrown hairs. It is also good to buy a razor with conditioning strips to provide extra protection for her skin. Make sure she is using shaving cream and applying it generously. Of course, you’ll want to tell her to be gentle. She is scraping a razor over her skin after all. Tell her to softly glide the razor over her skin without applying too much pressure. I’ll never forget the time I just stole my mom’s razor before I was “allowed” to shave and ended up with giant gaping hole in my shin, standing in a puddle of blood. That may be slightly graphic, but the point is, I had no guidance. The more open you are with your daughter, the more comfortable she’ll feel coming to you for help.
And on a personal note, make sure your daughter understands that everyone is different and can start shaving at different times. Don’t let her be the little brat in math class bragging to all the hairy peasants. When they’re ready, their time will come.