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Hair Removal and Self-Conscious Tweens

Hair Removal & Self-Conscious Tweens

By Amalah

Hi Amy!

Long-time (long, long) reader. Happy anniversary!

I have one daughter who is wonderful, gorgeous, and so smart. She just turned 10 and is going through all the pre-period hormones and learning and feelings right now. One thing that has bothered her for a while is hair on her face (eyebrows and upper lip mostly). I always tell her “we’re mammals, we have hair and you’re clearly gorgeous!!” But sometimes I think “damn, it would be a 15 minute wax/threading appointment and I could take away this one bit of self conscious anxiety for her.” I’m not sure how to handle it! Do I take care of the hair and make her feel better? Or do I keep reminding her she’s human and normal and so so beautiful?

Thank you!!

It’s so, so tough to strike a balance between the way you WISH the world could be for your kids, and accepting the reality of the world they actually  have to live in.

An example: My son recently picked out a new pair of sneakers on Amazon, a turquoise and orange pair he thought looked “super awesome.” But once they arrived I realized they were clearly a girls’ style shoe, and I just hadn’t noticed the distinction in the listing. As much as I want to let my kids be who they want to be and fight the gender stereotyping garbage and wear whatever damn sneakers they like…I couldn’t knowingly send him to school wearing girls’ shoes. I knew he would get teased, there would be tears, he’d come home and never want to wear the sneakers ever again, etc. So I told him that whoops, sorry, turns out those sneakers didn’t come in your size after all, let’s pick out another pair. I was more careful in my search terms this time, and he picked out an unmistakably boyish red and blue pair instead. The girls’ shoes were quietly returned unopened.

So yeah, of COURSE we want our children to accept their bodies and skin and hair as-is (and OP provided a photo of her daughter for me and let me tell you, we’re talking about a truly gorgeous little girl here), but…well, we were all kids and tweens and teens once upon a time. How did that go for everyone?

Most of us do SOMETHING that makes us feel better about our appearance — we change our hair color, wear makeup, wax/shave/thread body hair, spend a little extra on bras that make our cleavage look amazing, etc. And that’s okay! It’s nice to take care of yourself and be happy and confident when you look in the mirror. So if your daughter’s facial hair is really bothering her — and it’s clear you’ve fought the good body-hair-acceptance fight and assured her she’s normal and beautiful and all that — I would probably go ahead and let her have some control over this aspect of her appearance.

(Note that as a mother of all boys, I had to go do some Googling to make sure I wasn’t suggesting something universally frowned on or somehow dangerous for a girl this young. I found instead that this is a REALLY common dilemma for parents of tween girls, and many of them eventually come to the same conclusion that a quick wax is a small price to pay in exchange for a big boost of self-confidence and/or warding off potential teasing or bullying.)

I would do a small patch test on your daughter’s skin first (maybe try one of those little at-home strip kits for the upper lip) so she’s prepared for the sensation and make sure her skin doesn’t react badly. For the full job, make sure you’re taking her somewhere very, very good and very, very experienced. A benefit to waxing (vs. shaving/plucking) is that the hair will re-grow in a softer, non-stubbly appearance, and she might notice less regrowth in general over time. (And as someone who overplucked her own brows TERRIBLY in high school and is paying for it to this day, please keep the tweezers supervised at all times!) If she has super-sensitive skin in general, threading might be the better option — I’d really just go with whatever you do for hair removal (if you do either, that is), so you’ll know you’re taking her to someone you trust.

Yeah. It sucks that this sort of stuff starts happening when they’re still so young — you just want the happy, confident bliss of childhood to last as long as possible! But I think you’re right: You CAN remove this small bit of self-conscious anxiety for her. And you don’t want the self-acceptance talk to backfire and make her feel like she’s wrong for feeling self-conscious about a little extra facial hair. She’s beautiful with or without it, so let her look in the mirror and feel beautiful.

Photo source: Depositphotos/bst2012

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Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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Penny
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Penny

Thank you for this! We had the same struggle with my daughter (about to turn 10). I fought this battle in my head for nearly a year and then realized if I didn’t make a big deal of it, it wouldn’t be. She has had a lot of skin issues in the past so we checked with her dermatologist first. He recommended facial nair at half strength (just mix with regular lotion) and it has worked well for us. It helped her to hear from someone else that it’s normal and not a big deal, and he mentioned his daughters… Read more »

Natazukii
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Natazukii

I was one of those hairy little 10 year olds. Not like a monkey or anything… but I went through puberty early, at 11, and the hair on my very white legs turned dark and my uni-brow was like, “Hi, everyone!” and that awkward time in life felt even more awkward. My mom wouldn’t let me start shaving my legs until I was 12… she was just fixated with that number in her mind, so I hated going to gym class where I had to wear shorts and felt like my legs drew a lot of attention. (Looking back, I… Read more »

Ros
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Ros

One thing that helps is making body hair removal seen as explicitly optional. RL example: my daughter had seen me with hairy legs and with shaved legs, and asked why, and the answer was “sometimes I like how they feel when they’re shaved and sometimes I like how they feel when they’re fuzzy. Kind of like how daddy sometimes shaves his face and sometimes doesn’t.” (Its about 50/50, honestly. The hair grows fast and I HATE stubble, which shows up in about 6 hours. Waxing literally keeps the hair off for 5 days.) That said, at your daughter’s age, it… Read more »

mj
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mj

A very hairy mom of a hairy 10 yo girl here. Dark facial hair has bugged my daughter for a couple years. I haven’t commented on hers but she noticed it and asked to do something about it. Not to mention the kids who teased her about it. We have talked openly about facial and body hair and how it’s a choice you make about your body. I chose to wax my eyebrows and have laser treatments on my lip. My daughter has even gone to appointments with me. We ultimately decided to alternate using a bleaching kit and a… Read more »