I sat on the cold bathroom floor with a razor in my hand, demonstrating the art of getting around an ankle without drawing blood. I am not ready to be here. To have a daughter who is shaving. Who is growing up. Who needs my guidance into womanhood. I am not done being a mom to little girls. I have not fulfilled all of my desires to create crazy pigtails and to pick out her clothes with the unicorn on the front, sure that she will still love magical things. I am not done complaining about glitter on the floor or her inability to express her emotions in a grown up way. But, it is here. The reality that time does not stop no matter my ability to deal with it. So, for the last month I have been pondering a question that I think all tween daughter moms have: When Should I Let My Daughter Shave Her Legs?
She has been asking for a while. Sharing friend after friend who gets to shave. Showing me razors and fruity scented gels that will make your skin, oh so soft. I have put it off, telling her I am not her friend’s mom, that I don’t want her to start. Because, once you start you can’t stop. We all know that, don’t we ladies?
But because she has shown me her legs over and over and over and over… and over again, in an effort to show me how long, blonde hair is ‘so gross’, I decided to do the research.
My research always starts the same way.
Ask my mom friends.
So I did. I asked anyone I knew with a daughter between the ages of 10 and 18. ‘When did your daughter start to shave?’ ‘Do you think she should have waited?’ ‘How hard was it to teach her?’
I got back basic answers, yes. But I also got story after story of razor cuts, complete with ‘look at these scars!’ show and tell. It was enlightening and painful. Some of the scars were deep, y’all!!
But the one thing I got from all the moms, regardless of their opinion is why they let their daughter start to shave.
Raising confident daughters means that we raise them to know and to understand their bodies. We want them to know how to take care of it, to protect it and to make decisions that are best for them. So when their daughters started to share that they were getting hair in ‘weird’ places and that they felt uncomfortable wearing dresses or shorts because everyone can see their ‘hairy legs’, it was time.
One woman let her daughter start at 10 with en electric razor. She may not have gotten the smoothest shave but it helped her with her confidence. One waiting until she was in high school. She just felt 9th grade was a good age no matter the state of the leg hair.
My daughter just turned 13 and is going into 8th grade. It was when I saw her putting lotion on her legs in an attempt to ‘make the hair lay down so it’s not so visible, Mom!‘ that I gave in.
So, the day before her 13th birthday, before her party where boys were invited – including her crush – the day before I celebrated becoming a mom for the first time, I gave her one of her birthday presents. A razor and shaving cream.
We sat in the quiet bathroom, her on the side of the tub and me sitting on the cold tile floor, chatting and teaching and learning and bonding. Over shaving her legs.
I passed on my 35+ years of experience on how far up to go, how to tell you missed a spot and how to get around those knobby knees that can cause so much trouble.
It was surreal. It was heartbreaking. It was life affirming. It was scary.
It was…. amazing.
So, When Should I Let My Daughter Shave Her Legs? When she is ready. Her language and actions will tell you when. It really all depends on the rate of development and when she starts to share that it is hurting her self-esteem.
But be prepared, you won’t be ready. No matter what. To watch her grow up. To watch her develop. To watch her become more independent.
I’m sure not.