My daughter can shave her legs whenever she wants… 

Last year, the issue of body hair arose in my family. My daughter had started secondary school and other girls were discussing hairy legs and armpits.

It really made me question my own choices and I decided to stop shaving my body, just to see how it felt.  I have always removed the hair on my legs, bikini line and underarms but couldn’t really give a reason why. I suppose it was the pressures of society and it seemed the ‘norm’. It was what women did.

In a world of smooth, hairless women, I wanted to show my daughter that some women choose not to remove their body hair. That it wasn’t neccesary and to provide her with a hirsute role model.

I was amazed that people actually had an opinion on my body hair. I’ve had friends and family members recoil, my hairy pits have become a joke (that I laugh along with!)

armpit hair feminism

I worked away over the summer in a job that required a load in/out of materials they were easiest to lift over the head and I couldn’t believe the amount of stares and whispers my underarms garnered.

I’m glad I experimented and questioned my reasoning behind this weekly chore as I learnt that I don’t care! Sometimes I want a smooth and hairless body, other times I love my hairy legs and pits!  The result was that I lost the embarrassment factor, I no longer stress about going out with hair on my body and this is the message I pass onto my daughter.

She asked recently if she could shave. When this question arose the first time, it threw me into a spin. I started thinking about societal pressure, peer pressure, feminism and body image. My response was to stop shaving myself and to just ask her to question why she wanted to.

This time I feel much more relaxed about it all. I tell her the most important lesson in life.

 
YOUR BODY, YOUR CHOICE!

I tell her that her wonderful body is perfect just as it is, but that if she wants to modify it, then that will be perfect too.

I ask her to question herself as to whether it’s what SHE wants, or whether it’s because others think she should do it.

We talk about attractiveness. She’s almost 13 and cares about her appearance, I don’t want her to think that it something to be ashamed of but want her to know that it comes from within and that confidence is the most attractive attribute.

We discuss why she thinks boys don’t want to see hairy legs and how that isn’t her problem.

We talk about choice.

Her choice. Not mine.

Because I want her to learn that her body belongs to her alone and that she should never be pressured into doing anything she isn’t comfortable with. This lesson is about more than body hair, it’s about her future sexual experiences, it’s about her knowing that if she says ‘no’ then it means no and she doesn’t have to explain or be ashamed of it.

lessons for my daughter

I don’t want her to do what I think is right, I want her to have her own mind and make decisions based on good information, support and great self esteem.

My hairy pits may suggest to you that I enforce this ideal on my kids. I don’t. I just want them to have the confidence to do whatever the fuck pleases them!

And that is why my girl can shave or not shave. Wax or be natural. Say yes. Or say no.

As it happens, she currently doesn’t bother but when she makes HER decision, I’ll be behind her 100%
Sam x

5 replies
  1. Maddie Walsh
    Maddie Walsh says:

    Very good post, agree 100%, it’s all about personal choice. Best when young adults learn this lesson early and have the confidence/ resolve to make their own decisions, not b/c of peer pressure, shame or guilt. Nice pits BTW! 🙂

    Reply
  2. Donald
    Donald says:

    At this day and age I feel that we have more of a choice in the decision making of hair people now can decide more easily whether or not to have body hair . It’s more accepted for you to have or not to have hair and nothing is written in stone you may start by having it one way and then change your mind and do the opposite I believe for myself I like to experience both side of the coin And then make that personnel decision . I personately chose to shave probably because I have and over abundance of hair . You do what feels right for you .

    Reply
  3. Nit
    Nit says:

    I agree. The best thing we can give our children is the knowledge and the confidence to make their own decisions regardless of what anyone else thinks or does. My daughter is also nearly 13 and has no desire to remove any hair yet, even if her friends are doing it. I feel sure that if she ever decides to do that it will be her own choice.

    With regards to shaving pubic hair, I would point out that if there is any pressure put on her by a boy about removing it then perhaps he is not right for her. If they want her nether regions to resemble those of either a porn star or a six-year-old then they are the ones with a problem with body hair!

    I would like to recommend a book for both boys and girls – it is called ‘Sex and Lovers: A Practical Guide’ by Ann-Marlene Henning and Tina Bremmer-Olzewski. It is used in Germany to teach about relationships to children from about ten years old. It covers all sorts of things from body hair and self-confidence to full sex advice, and explains to girls about boys’ sexuality and vice versa. It’s strong message is that there are countless different ways of doing things, and that everybody is different in their preferences, and just make sure that you are well informed and have the knowledge and self-assurance behind your own choices. [PLEASE NOTE, the pictures, although tasteful, are explicit, so you would need to judge the time that each child may be ready for the book, or you could even just select parts to pass on or talk about.]
    To sum it up, I wish I’d had this book as a teenager, and my husband was quite upset when I gave it to my son (when he was 13) as he hadn’t finished reading it yet!!

    I’d better add that I have no vested interest here. I just think it’s a great way of helping our kids to grow up, especially if they ever feel too embarrassed to talk to us about certain things.

    Reply

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