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Are my legs hairy mum?

(15 Posts)
giesabosie Thu 15-Sep-11 14:17:45

OK - I'm delurking here. Thought it was time as several incidents this week have left me fuming and although this board has helped me start thinking about things from a more feminist viewpoint I'm still pretty incoherent when it come to arguing against things.

Over breakfast this morning my DD (aged 6) asked if I thought her legs were hairy. A bit more probing and it turns out comments at school have been made which is why she's recently taken to wearing tights instead of socks. It turns out that the classmate making the comments uses "a machine thing" to remove the hair on her legs!

How do I explain to my DD what's going on here in a way she can understand? I did try to explain that the beauty industry was a big con and worked on making you feel bad about bits of yourself so you bought stuff you didn't really need but not sure if this is the best approach. It's much more sinister isn't it? I only do my legs when I'm going on a date and trying to be sexually attractive. Can't quite believe people would allow their DDs to be indocrinated into doing this so early.

Any suggestions on better arguments. Unfortunately she caught me before coffee and nothing really came out right.

grumpykat Thu 15-Sep-11 14:19:27

No advice, just GAH! What? At six? Who on earth allows their daughter to be thinking about such things at six?

mumwithdice Thu 15-Sep-11 14:29:56

Six? As another MN-er would say, what the actual fuck?

I've given up shaving my legs for many reasons, but the new compelling one I found today is that it clearly makes it easier for my 9 month old to pull herself up on my legs. Also, DH actually prefers my legs like that. So it saves me time and money to spend on more interesting things.

theothersparticus Thu 15-Sep-11 15:39:06

Oh gods, that's really disturbing. I thought it was bad when my hairy legs were pointed out at 12 but 6 is terribly early for that. It's so awful that girls are being made to feel bad about themselves earlier and earlier.

I think you're doing the right thing explaining it's all a big con, it's better to tell the truth and hope it sinks in, make her feel good about her body and she may go off the idea.

giesabosie Thu 15-Sep-11 16:21:29

Mumwithdice - ouch!

That was the bit that got me - 6 years old. I guess it's the same thing as padded bras for small children and Lelli Kellie shoes sold with makeup. I just hadn't appreciated how powerless I am to stop this kind of nonsense creeping in to her life.

It's so unfair because I have a DS as well and he and his friends are not worrying about personal grooming (just who can ride their bikes with no hands).

mumwithdice Thu 15-Sep-11 16:31:49

giesa- oh no, I didn't mean it like that. She doesn't pull. I just meant the texture seems to make it easier-she doesn't slide down my legs and it doesn't tickle nearly as much.

StewieGriffinsMom Thu 15-Sep-11 17:46:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ChristinedePizan Thu 15-Sep-11 18:19:20

I have no idea either. How horrible though smile

Can you talk to one of her friends' mums? How do they deal with this?

meditrina Thu 15-Sep-11 18:37:16

Oh no - this is dreadful when your DD is only 6.

My DD (7) has asked about hairy legs. I've told her that legs are meant to be hairy (and will get hairier in puberty), and that some people choose to remove the hair. This might be because they think it looks better that way (just as people might choose to shave their heads), or because it helps in a sporting activity where you need your body really smooth like top ranking swimmers (who could instead opt for a bodysuit), or her mad cyclist uncle who does remove hair from limbs

Now not everyone will have a handy depilated male around, but what I was trying to do was show her that it is a deliberate choice which can be exercised by grown ups of both sexes.

The norms of female "beauty", I'm trying to leave until later. My other aim is to get her to think about what she wants to do and why. This will be long haul!

None of that really addresses the other point in OP, which is what to do about a girl picking on DD and making her self-conscious. At this age, I think the only option is to talk to the teacher who, if not already aware of this dynamic, does need to be told.

UsingMainlySpoons Thu 15-Sep-11 18:39:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ChunkyPickle Thu 15-Sep-11 18:55:49

UsingMainlySpoons - you are telling your daughter this as a white lie yes? Because hair really, really doesn't know that it's been shaved so how can it know to grow darker.

Lower leg hair is just thicker and darker naturally, on both men and women.

I despair otherwise that people have been shaving so long that they don't know what a natural hair growth pattern is sad

Grumpla Thu 15-Sep-11 19:00:53

SIX?!?!?

Jeez sad

That's so sad. I would maybe just tell her that she has beautiful soft downy legs like a peach, that she is gorgeous just the way she is, that some big grownup men and women choose to shave their legs but plenty don't, then try and leave it at that? It seems absolutely ridiculous to me that a six year old would be shaving or epilating. I HOPE that perhaps her friend has just watched her mum do it maybe?

Bourbonchops Thu 15-Sep-11 19:49:26

Usingmainlyspoons not all girls do have fine barely noticeable hair.
My dd is mixed race and the hair on her legs is very thick black noticeable hair.
While at the age of 7 she has only made the odd comment about her leg hair, if it was to bother her enough I would allow her to remove the hair, maybe via hair removal cream.
While I totally agree nobody should feel pressured to remove body hair, I wont be forcing her to leave it alone if it upsets her enough.

KRICRI Thu 15-Sep-11 21:48:31

Meditrina's suggestion seems the best so far.

I just feel so incredibly sad that a girl this young would be worrying about this sort of thing (or another child would be saying things that make them feel self-conscious or bad about it.)

One of the most popular girls in the class above me had a very dark complexion and quite thick, dark hair on her legs. She wouldn't have started shaving until into her teens, but I don't think anyone passed a comment about it. This was in America where leg shaving became "standard" long before it did in the UK. I actually remember that leg shaving was a sort of "rite of passage" into adulthood, probably around 13 or 14. No one could tell if you'd started your periods, but in summer at least, they could see if you were shaving (I think that was the logic!)

I mean hair, whether fine, dark, fair, thick, course or soft is normal on a child's legs. It's bad enough that adult women feel pressure to confirm to an ideal standard of feminine "beauty" that involves shaven legs (and about everything else it seems.) It's actually quite upsetting that such a very young child could also be experiencing this.

giesabosie Fri 16-Sep-11 13:05:22

Thanks for all the suggestions.

Meditrina - I'm going to try your suggestion. One of the reasons I got flustered about it all was because she asked if I had hairy legs and at the moment I don't so it was difficult to dismiss removing hair as a load of nonsense.

Grumpla - yes, I was kind of hoping that perhaps the child in question had just been copying her mum and it was a one off. It makes me realise that I have to be very careful about how I talk about my own body and what I think of it as everything is noticed and absorbed.

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