The Tween Preen: Hair Removal
I am now the proud owner of a tweenager and a threenager. I’m not 100% sure what the difference is; they both fuss over clothes and food, one is stroppy, the other hormonally moody and both have their own individual hygiene issues. And I’m not sure I care, I’m trying to see out a menopause over here!
Talking with friends recently about tweens and their hygiene issues the inevitable question arose, what about tweens and hair removal?
Recently the tween has suggested to me that she would like to start shaving her legs. I have played the compassionate mother assuring her that her legs aren’t that hairy and she’s lucky because the hair that is there is fair. I think I’ve managed to stall her for the time being.
I remember my first foray into hair removal very clearly. I was 12 and had put up with hairy legs for the first year of high school. Being a brunette, mine were genuinely hairy and the fairness of my childhood has been replaced by a layer of dark mohair. Although calling it mohair is probably too kind, it was coarse and wouldn’t lie flat, and in my 12 year old mind I felt that I resembled a Woolly Mammoth from the thighs down. I shut myself in the bathroom and set about my mission ‘Operation Furry.’ It was a bonus having a sister 7 years older than me as I knew she had the required implement, a bright white and orange Bic razor. Yes, back in 1983 there was none of your pastel coloured exotically named lady razors. And if there were my sister certainly wasn’t buying them.
I sat on the edge of the bath and pulled up my uniform skirt. Using the shower attachment (fastened to the taps, not a proper fixture of course). I lathered up my hairy legs and began the furry offensive. Turns out that shaving your legs is not as easy as it might appear. I came away relatively unscathed with only about 32 cuts where I’d skimmed the razor over bone or pressed too hard on my shins. Despite the bath now resembling a scene from Stephen King’s ‘Carrie’ I felt quite accomplished and dare I say it, like a teenager.
Later that evening Mum noticed the numerous spots of loo roll attached to my now smooth legs and asked me what I’d done. ‘Shaved my legs!’ Said I wearing my new found smoothness like a badge of tween honour. Her face fell and I could see she was upset ‘Oh no why have you done that?’ she asked. I was a bit shocked to be honest as I thought her reaction was quite extreme. I was thinking that perhaps she had misheard and thought I said ‘Oh I’ve just taken up smoking and hard drugs.’ She sighed rather exasperatedly and assured me that ‘The hair on your legs was really fair and no-one could see it because you weren’t that hairy’ and ‘once you start shaving your legs you’ll have to do it all the time because the hairs grow back thicker.’ I still don’t know to this day whether she was saying this to frighten me, but I resigned myself to it. Thirty-three years later I’m still shaving them just in case they do grow back thicker.
I’m wondering if this is the way forward with the tween although I suspect not. I’m thinking that when the time comes for ‘Operation Furry: The Next Generation’ I will embrace this petite rite of passage. Perhaps we’ll even make a pilgrimage to our local supermarket in search of appropriate implements. We will be dazzled by the array of multi coloured pastel lady razors and we will ponder our choices of Venus, Passion and so on. None of your Easyjet coloured Sweeney Todd razors for my girl. No siree! Purchases made, we will skip happily out of the supermarket having bonded over such an intimate feminine issue. I will help her to lather up her fair legs with delicately perfumed lady shaving gel and I will shave her legs myself using my 33 years of experience, a mother passing on those precious traditions to her daughter. I can almost hear the tinkle of our laughter and the sound of a meaningful soundtrack to record this moment in posterity.
Sadly the reality will be that she will stroll nonchalantly into the kitchen one evening with legs like jam roly polies and enough loo roll to make an Andrex Puppy weep. I will put two and two together and realise that she has been up in the bathroom and used her dad’s razor to rid herself of fur. What do you think this is? The Gilmore Girls?!
The fact is parenting books don’t really tell us how and when to deal with these issues. Although I probably wouldn’t have read them anyway! When should young girls start shaving? And is it acceptable to say no to this particular part of the tween preen?
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