real life

Help! Is it normal that... my eight-year-old wants to shave her legs?

Do you let your child do something that feels wrong to you but helps them fit in?  Another difficult dilemma for the ivillage group therapy session…

When I was a child I was one of the first girls in my class who needed to shave my legs, but one of the last to be allowed to.

It was traumatic. So traumatic. Being of Italian descent, I always had more hair on my face, eyebrows and legs than others.

Now my daughter is asking if she can shave her legs. She’s eight.

I was 14 when I went through my own angst and suffering, begging my mother to buy me a bra even though I didn’t really need it and let me shave my legs, which I felt I desperately needed to do. I eventually cracked and did it behind her back.

I don’t want my daughter to feel so desperate that she tries to do it behind my back.

The sad fact is that she is definitely hairier than many of her friends. The hair on her legs in particular is very visible. But I’m more upset that she’s thinking about her looks so much at such a young age. She’s already wanting to alter her appearance, improve her looks. She knows that I shave my legs, so she knows it isn’t wrong.

I feel like if I let her shave I’ll be enabling her vanity at too young an age.

But still, I remember being teased for being hairy at school. I don’t want this for her. I want her to be a happy child, I want to be an understanding mum and I am truly conflicted about this dilemma.

Should this mum change her rules to make her daughter feel more ‘normal’? Or is an important lesson to learn that we’re all different?