Hair Removal for Pre-Teens

Well, it’s official. My daughter and all of her friends are in the double digits. Age ten will definitely bring with it some interesting changes in mood, personality, and body odor. All of these kids, boys and girls, smell like hot trash half the time and intense grooming rituals are on the horizon. One of those rites of passage for these tweens will undoubtedly be removing all that newly-sprouted hair.

I remember turning 13 and sneaking to shave my legs for the first time in my parents’ bathroom. Oh, and let’s not forget using part of my first paycheck to go to the mall and get my eyebrows waxed with my best friend. Ah, fond memories of my teen years. Most teenage girls can recall similar coming-of-age moments. But, now pre-teen girls are using hair removal procedures at increasingly higher rates than ever before.

This New York Times article was a real eye-opener. According to several spa and salon owners they interviewed, 8-12 year old girls are walking through their doors for eyebrow, upper lip, and underarm waxing. But, it doesn’t end there. Girls are also coming in for permanent laser hair removal services.

I’ll admit, I’m a little torn here. As a mom raising girls in this very superficial, hyper-judgmental culture, I try to encourage them to love themselves and their body as-is. I know that at some point, they’ll want to change up their look and maybe get rid of some body hair. But, I just assumed they’d have the same at-home shaving experience in their teens that I did. It just seems too grown-up and too vain to start allowing professional waxing and laser services, right?

But, I also remember one girl in elementary whose arms and face were so hairy that other kids would tease her. Eventually, she started wearing long sleeves year round. My best friend had a unibrow that was basically the bane of her existence until she got it waxed at 13. My other childhood friend had visible hair on her petite face. She was self-conscious and a little withdrawn about that facial fuzz. Getting laser hair removal as an adult finally put an end to her never-ending shaving.

The big question for me is whether enduring those obstacles and having to come to terms with your pre-teen, tween, teen appearance strengthens a girl’s self-confidence, or does it do irreparable damage to her self-esteem? If my young daughter feels insecure about her body hair, is it better to take her to get it professionally removed, or should I encourage her to ignore the haters? Is there a way to do both? I have a feeling that I won’t know until I’m confronted with the situation. What would you do if your 8-12 year old daughter asked for waxing or laser treatments?

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