When Did We Start Worrying About Hair?


The Gloss has talked a lot about hair lately. Hair length, nipple hair, body hair, kiddie hairstyles. We like hair. We like discussing hair. We’re happy, hairy gals. Or maybe some of us aren’t…

But when did we all start worrying about hair and it’s obviously numerous complications? (See above).

The summer before middle school, my mother bought me razors. She sat me down in the bathtub and taught me how to shave my legs. I’m sure that I asked her to do this, though I don’t know why I was worried. Every hair on my body is so blonde and fine that you can’t see it without intense scrutiny. For me, it was just about doing what all my friends were doing. So we all shaved our legs to get ready for swimsuit season and days spent playing at the pool. This was my first experience with shaving at all, and besides a few nicks here and there, I think it went ok.

Kim Kardashian’s body hair issues have been well documented. In fact, I’ve heard a lot more about her hair than I ever needed to know. So, just in case you haven’t heard all the great personal details out there, Kim started getting bikini waxes at the age of 12. That’s about 7th grade, or a little after I started shaving my legs. She was in middle school, so I’m sure she was attending pool parties with both sexes, trying to look cool in a bikini that wasn’t properly filled out and praying that the whole thing wouldn’t fall off when she jumped in the water. Middle schoolers are a hundred kinds of self-conscious, so I can understand the desire to be well-groomed during those tricky tween years.

However, not everyone seems to be so understanding about beauty regimens beginning at the tender age of twelve. In fact, most publications seem to be shocked that Kardashian would admit to such an early salon life. (The fact that anyone is shocked about a Kardashian overshare is a completely different topic.) I think the problem here is that people only think of bikini waxes as a way to prepare for sexy sex time. Probably because it’s the only reason we get waxes as adults. Unfortunately, for a girl with a lot of body hair, the bikini area could be an issue all summer long. As someone who grew up with a pool in her backyard, and therefore constant summer company, I was in a bathing suit 6 days out of 7. Even as a natural blond, I was a little paranoid about grooming. This, combined with extra fair skin, led to some unfortunate razor burn and a couple of sarongs, for insurance purposes.

While it’s possible that the Kardashian’s were preparing for more than a game of Sharks and Minnows, we have no way of knowing that. And neither did their mother, who obviously took them and paid for these appointments. All she knew was that her hairy little girls felt uncomfortable in swimsuits. It was a pretty logical solution to let them get waxes, especially if they had similar sensitivity issues.

Listen, I’m not behind children’s cosmetic surgery or tween Botox or generally making our daughters feel like their body is the only part of them that’s worth anything. I think we need to encourage and inspire our young girls’ minds. We need to teach them that they can be anything they want to be. But we also need to be realistic about the pressures young girls face from their peers. And if a girl is terrified of being mocked for her adult body hair and therefore refuses to ever wear a swimsuit in public, a bikini wax may not be the end of the world. A bikini wax does not always mean a Brazilian with vajazzling. Sometimes, it can be as simple as bikini line upkeep. And if it will make a girl feel more comfortable, I don’t think we need to get in such an uproar.

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    • Allison

      I get so mad when people call moms who let their 10-13 years olds get waxes/shave/tweeze bad parents. If they’re forcing the kid, sure, but god, when I was ten a boy in my class told me I looked ugly because I had a unibrow and a mustache. I came home sobbing. You better believe my mom got me a wax.

      I had a friend who was 13 and not allowed to shave her legs since her parents thought it was sending a bad message. She never, ever wore anything that showed her legs. I thought they were the worst people in the world.

      Every time I think about this I am eternally grateful to never ever have to relive my preteen years.

    • KatG

      I think that if a girl is old enough to be self-conscious of something like a bikini line or hairy legs, than she is old enough to get that taken care of. I don’t want to hear any crap about loving our bodies the way they are. If my daughter feels self-conscious and it is making her less inclined to have fun in a pool, change for gym class in a locker room, or wear shorts, then I’ll be happy to help her to fix this. What would be WRONG would be to point out to a child that she “needs to start waxing” if it wasn’t her idea and it doesn’t bother her.

    • Nicole

      I remember being 11 and my mother telling me that I had to shave my armpits because they were too hairy. Then, at 12, she made me get my lip waxed. However, this is nothing compared to the body image issues my whole family contributed to.

      Ah, parents, society and their contributions to severe BDD.

    • Carolyn

      I agree with Allison and KatG. If a girl is old enough to want to remove hair that is obviously making her uncomfortable then why would parents (or anyone for that matter) have a problem with it? People are just uncomfortable with their kids growing up. It happens. And puberty (i.e. body hair) is happening earlier and earlier these days so for parents to cling to an idea about “the appropriate age to start removing body hair” doesn”t make sense to me.