I’m not lying to her when I say her counterpoints are completely sound. It is her body, it is an unfair double standard. But I say no one wants to have other kids sign her yearbook: “Have a great summer, Sasquatch.”
+ + +
My 14-year-old daughter and I have the following argument every Sunday night:
Me: Did you do everything you need to do?
Her: What do you mean?
Me: You know what I mean. The list of things we talked about.
Her: (grumble mutter grumble mutter)
Me: It’s not a big deal. Just basic grooming stuff. We’ve talked about this.
Her: You know, it’s really weird that my father is making a big deal about whether or not I shave my legs and armpits.
Me: I agree. It is weird. Did you do it?
Her: Isn’t it my business whether I shave or not?
Me: Yes. That is, it will be completely and totally your own business and nobody else’s when you’re 18.
Her: So I don’t have any personal freedom until I’m 18? Why 18? What’s so magic about being 18?
Me: It’s the age when all young people transform into wizards. You get your special powers, you graduate from Hogwarts, and you get to start deciding whether you want to engage in personal grooming habits or not. Go shave, please.
Her: You know, here’s a thought. It’s my body. I should get to decide whether I want hair on it or not.
Me: You’re not wrong.
Her: Also? You don’t have to shave your legs, right? Isn’t it COMPLETELY sexist that society doesn’t make you shave your legs because you’re a man? I mean, you’re totally hairy.
Me: Again. You’re not wrong. It is a deeply sexist and unfair double standard. I agree completely.
Her: So then why –
Me: Because I said so and I’m the ultimate galactic overlord in this house until you graduate.
Every. Sunday. Night. Same debate.
Here’s the thing. I’m not lying to her when I say her counterpoints are completely sound. It is her body, it is an unfair double standard, and 18 is an arbitrary invisible line.
And, if I thought for one second that she wanted to go unshaven for political reasons, or to make a social statement, I’d say, “Hell yes, my noble daughter. By all means, take a stand!”
But the real reason she hates shaving is because … Sweet Girl be LAZY. That’s it. That’s all.
I’m mean because teens are meaner
I get it. I’m lazy, too. Shaving is a pain. I don’t like doing it myself. I’ve often considered throwing away my razor, letting my beard grow out, maybe cultivating a super-cool, lumberjack-chic, hipster beard that grows down to my Adam’s apple. Possibly accompanied by a nice handlebar ‘stache. All the kids are doing it. The only real reason I shave my face is because last time I did let my beard grew out, I looked in the mirror and saw Santa Claus staring back at me. So, no.
My only real reason for making her shave her legs and armpits weekly? It has nothing to do with social rules, teen hygiene or grooming etiquette. It’s that teenagers, as a rule, can be mean to each other.
The girl ones can be particularly mean. I just don’t want other kids to see her hairy calves and tease her. She’s a tough girl, she may say she doesn’t care if kids make fun of her, but I say no one wants to have other kids sign her yearbook: “Have a great summer, Sasquatch.”
That’s really my only concern.
Is it a fair one? Is it worth a weekly argument about leg shaving? I don’t know.
Out of all issues to care about, and all the battles worth fighting with my daughter, this barely makes the list. And yet I persist. I’ve even put the annoying grooming ritual on her chore list, the weekly completion of which is the key to receiving her allowance.
Friends of mine who have older kids tell me these fun little adolescent issues work themselves out on their own. Boys and girls both start to engage in basic teen hygiene and grooming as soon as they start checking out their peers at school and feel that little itch of self-consciousness. Next thing you know there’s shaving, fragrancing, eyebrow shaping, makeup, the works. Once they commit to personal appearance, they go all in. (I remember that. When I was 16, I got paranoid about how I smelled, and started worrying that basic deodorant wasn’t doing the trick. Like most guys my age, I started drenching myself in Drakkar Noir every day before going to school. Sorry, every kid who ever sat next to me in class that year.)
So I may just give up soon and let it go. Until then, I remain the Teen Hygiene and Grooming Enforcer.
I will say this, though, just between you and me: while I will continue to force her to shave her legs, I secretly agree with every complaint she has about it. I don’t like there are certain rules she’s being asked to follow simply because she’s a girl, and our culture has particular beliefs about what’s appropriate for those who carry a double X chromosome. Whether my daughter’s resistance to shaving is due to laziness or personal politics, she should get to do whatever she wants. Writing this article might be my way of deciding to get on board with Team Hairy Legs.
But don’t tell her I said that.
Photo: Straight Razor for Teen Hygiene via photopin (license)
we’ve gone back and forth with our 16 year old about this. She has some facial hair that we take her to get waxed every once in a while. Very hard to bring up the fact that she might be due again
Neither of my girls shave 15 & 18. It is their choice. They say they are “Organic” No one teases them and if anything their peers ask about it and then life goes on. Give kids credit.
Dude. Your reasoning is lame and about you, not her. Stop forcing her to shave – you’re being silly over nothing. She obviously knows better than you: she doesn’t CARE about the opinions of others, and she’s right.
Kaci Taylor says
Okay… as a college student who recently passed this “mystical line” that accompanies turning eighteen, I have a major issue with this idea. I haven’t shaved once in my life, and though I do enjoy the social stand I take with the statement, I have no real reason not to, like your daughter. This is not a hygiene issue. If you don’t realize her peers are going to find ways to criticize her no matter what… the issue is in your thinking. Never once, even throughout college, has anyone (and I do mean anyone) confronted me or made fun of me for not shaving. Curious kids? Yes. Because whether they’ve been forced into this social norm or it’s been subtly integrated into their lives, it’s all they know. If you personally don’t agree with any of the reasons your own daughter shouldn’t shave, the only thing in your way is your own concern that your daughter can’t stand up to a little criticism from kids just looking for something to criticize.
Don’t make her do it. Teach her instead how to fend off these mean teens. I understand you don’t want her to get teased, but kids these days are much more progressive than our generation. She sounds like she has her head on straight, and if she decides to shave at a later date then she’ll do it. Don’t prevent her from having those encounters that will make her who she is.
I disagree. Let her grow her hair out if she wants to, and let them call her Sasquatch if they will. If that bothers her, she’ll change her behaviour. If it doesn’t bother her, then it clearly doesn’t matter.
Enforcing something as stupid and arbitrary and leg-shaving is not teaching her the kind of independence and bodily autonomy she needs as she approaches adulthood.
Leave her alone. It’s her business whether it not she is embarrassed. If anything you should be commending her on fighting “The System”! Get with the times sir. Stand up and fight for your rights and beliefs but do not force others to feel the way you do.
Ralph Jordan says
Being that you are man and not woman you might not know everything about a woman’s personal problems and she might not feel comfortable talking to you about.
Jensen, Denmark says
Let your daughter make her choice on this matter. You should not impose on her the tendency to remove body hair. The tight frames the teenagers put to themselves are scary. You should be proud of a daughter who dares to be natural and dare to follow her own ways.
I don’t have daughters and after reading this thread I am grateful for it.
You are what is wrong with society. Who cares who makes fun of her especially if she isn’t being made fun of or doesn’t care herself? You are a man and should have NO say what a female does with her NATURAL body! You not liking her hair sounds like a personal problem that YOU need to deal with. 😡
Anna Roxburn says
The problem is you making her do something to avoid being made fun of that is not necessary medically or for hygiene. You, as a father, are the man she will hold every other man she ever meets up to as a standard. You are teaching her it’s acceptable for men to dictate how a woman should look— hairless. The other problem is kids who bully kids are the problem- not the kid being bullied.
You are setting your daughter up for replicating this relationship with men when she gets older, a domineering male who dictates what she has to do.
Stay out of her grooming habits and leave her alone. This is creepy. This crosses boundaries.
“Here’s the thing. I’m not lying to her when I say her counterpoints are completely sound. It is her body, it is an unfair double standard, and 18 is an arbitrary invisible line.”
“But the real reason she hates shaving is because … Sweet Girl be LAZY. That’s it. That’s all.”
Your parental processing is defective. You recognize the sexist principles your daughter has the intellectual fortitude to stand up against, then you reduce it her intellect and feelings to… laziness.
Instead of encouraging her to reject blind conformity and inspire self-worth, you diminish her person over some leg hair.
You can do a better job, Dad.
Wow, I hope you’ll pay for her therapy bills when she’s older. I’m 30 and I had conservative parents but this level of invasiveness is wrong.
My almost 13-year-old daughter was in tears this morning because today was a shorts-worthy day. When I asked why so upset…she told me her father (we are not together) asked her “what are you doing about your hairy legs?” She had already come to me a year ago with curiosity over other girls at school shaving and I helped and showed her how. When she didn’t come back about it…I let it go. Not once us a friend or peer made her feel ashamed of her perfectly normal, maturing legs…it was her father. He also, a couple years back, made her ashamed for wanting to wear a sports bra after a teenage boy saw her bare chest when her shirt went up at gymnastics. He refused to buy them for her or let her wear the ones I bought her that she came to his house in. He insisted she wear a full undershirt. What is wrong with these dads? You don’t want her wearing a “provocative” sports bra, yet you want to force the sexuality of leg shaving on her!?! I sent him a message expressing the sadness she endured over his careless statement…and all he could say was “Thank you for your insight.” This is his form of sarcasm. I cannot BELEIVE daddies could make their little girls feel even more vulnerable and actually think that’s ok…
Kids don’t give a shit of others shave or not you’re not protecting her you’re controlling her.
Shaving is everyone’s own choice. I am a 14 year old girl and genetically very hairy. 2 be honest life would be easier if I shaved but I want to make a difference. And really why is it such a big deal. You either shave or you do not. Easy peasy.
This article disgusts me. You are basically body shaming your own daughter.
You are so wrong sir, if she’s clean then that is good enough. Women’s bodies are over policed and controlled. This is not your battle or your body and it’s super unhealthy if you want her to have power and confidence in her future relationships.
Frustrated Dad says
The comment section = cancer
Females not shaving their pits and legs are disgusting.
Having the same issue with my daughter. I’m not going to force her to do it but looking at her makes me want to sick up.
Glad to be old says
Sometimes people need to hear the truth. This affirmation bs that everything we do is ‘ok’ only leads to loneliness.
How mad will the girl be if you don’t say something? Should we just let them figure everything out on their own? “ Don’t want to brush your teeth? Ok. You be you. “
How stupid is that.