Because it feels like the end of the world as we know it.
According to The Frisky, from a story by TODAY show staff, a Philadelphia-area mother called local aesthetician Melanie Engle, asking her to wax her 8-year-old daughter’s bikini line. Engle says, “This wasn’t about the girl developing hair early — it was the mother’s obsession with wanting her daughter to be a supermodel.” Oy.
Diane Fisher, owner of Eclips Salon in the D.C. suburbs, says, “Some kids do have a lot of hair. A 10-year-old with a dark mustache is going to feel self-conscious, and is going to ask for waxing.” Okay, maybe. But I’m a hairy girl. I’ve got a moustache that until very recently I let fly in the wind like Frida Kahlo, but you know, I’m trying to date now, so I Nair that thing off. But I’m 33 years old! I can do that. When I was 13 I used to comb that same moustache in the mirror.
The Frisky notes that Wanda Stawczyk of Wanda’s European Skin Care in New York told the Post, “In 10 years, waxing children will be like taking them to the dentist or putting braces on their teeth.”
Oh. My. God.
I’ve got big, thick eyebrows. My mother always called them Brooke Shields eyebrows, saying, “Do you know how lucky you are to have such beautiful eyebrows?!” My mother has always lamented plucking her eyebrows so thin as a young woman that she now has to pencil them in. Before going anywhere, she says, “Oh! Let me put my eyebrows on!” So I can relate to the mother who wasn’t sure if she should pluck her daughter’s unibrow. And I have to admit, I’m pleased my daughter has light hair like her father, so she hopefully won’t have to go through the stash-waxing and the chin-hair plucking that I have. I love that my daughter is pretty – but I would love her no matter what. And furthermore, I would think she was pretty no matter what! I mean, for all I know, I could have the ugliest kid on the block, but to me, she’s the most beautiful little thing I’ve ever seen.
I do take my daughter to the salon to get her haircut by a professional – but I trim her bangs between cuts myself. Yes, I paint her fingernails and toenails from time to time – but I’ve never taken her for a professional pedicure. (First of all, who has the money? And secondly, I agree with KJ – it’s just gross.) I let her wear little girl lip-gloss and enjoy buying her cute clothes. But it’s her inner-beauty I’m really concerned with.
We have got to stop putting such a premium on physical beauty for little girls. Little girls are naturally beautiful, and by all means tell them that. But what we shouldn’t tell our daughters is that they need to learn how to be beautiful in all of the same insecurity-driven ways that adult women are. I mean, I hope my daughter doesn’t shave her legs until she’s in at least 7th grade, unlike me. I got duped into shaving my arms at age 10! A choice I’ve lived to regret… I did it once and have learned to deal with the forest I accidentally planted there while razing my skin. My mother, on the other hand, has been shaving her arms her whole life. But your arms and legs and face are all exposed to the world, while your bikini area, for the most part, isn’t.
I’m all for adult women who want to go Brazilian, but not at 8 years old. Because by removing what little hair there might be from that area, you are telling your daughter she should be conscious about her bikini line – that other people will be looking at her bikini line – and that is something all mothers (and fathers) should be trying to avoid, don’tchathink?
Dr. Doris Pastor, a clinical associate professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, notes that girls are reaching puberty at a younger age, saying, “It’s not uncommon for girls to get their period at 9 or 10 years old, and with that development comes increased hair growth. The waxing itself is not an issue; the bigger issue is whether they are encouraged to engage in risky behaviors.” But I think drawing any sort of attention to the bikini line – suggesting that it has to be trim – is encouraging young girls to engage in risky behavior. Because who are you keeping that area trim for? When I was 12, and wanted to buy lacy underwear, my mother said I couldn’t, asking me, “Who’s gonna see your underwear?” She had a point. The only people who were going to see my underwear were the other girls in the locker room. But in middle school, every girl I knew wore silky, satiny, lacy underwear. Why? Because companies started selling it to us, that’s why.
I was talking yesterday about dressing our daughters as dolls, projecting our desire to be fashionable onto them. Dress-up is fun. It’s about adding to yourself, not taking away. Most women pluck and shave and trim and do all of those things and as an adult, they can be esteem-building. Removing hair from an 8-year-old’s bikini line is without a doubt removing a piece of her natural self-esteem. There’s nothing wrong with looking nice, but let’s not rob our children of their innocence.
Photo: The Situationist