Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hairy arms

As I was helping Elegant dry off after her shower last night, I noticed that she now has hair on her arms. It's medium brown and long. I didn't say anything to her, but she's obviously clairvoyant, because she told me that that she's embarrassed by it. She said she doesn't like to roll her sleeves up in art class in school because she doesn't want anyone to see how much hair she has.

She's seven years old.

The rational part of me says that Elegant needs to learn to live with being hairy and to be comfortable with herself just as she is. We've spent her entire life telling her how fabulous she is and how she's smart, funny, strong, healthy, talented, beautiful, and so on. We affirm her fabulosity on a daily basis.

But, she's seven years old. She doesn't want to be hairy.

I know EXACTLY how she feels. Once when I was in middle school, I shaved the hair off my arms because I hated it so much. (Not a wise way to do it, I know.) I could go get a bottle of Nair this week and take care of El's hirsuteness in about 10 minutes.

But, she's seven years old. A bit young to start the cycle of hair removal. And, once we start with the arms, we'd have to maintain the hairlessness, plus what's to say she won't ask to get rid of the fur on her legs?

And what kind of message am I sending both of my girls? Sorry girls, hair on women just isn't acceptable in this society. You need to remove it in order to conform to society's expectations of beauty. Mmm, I don't think so.

What do y'all think?

18 comments:

Melissa said...

that's a tough one. On the one hand, you don't want your daughter to feel bad about herself and you want her to love herself exactly how she is (which, according to both your posts & photos, is perfect). On the other, if it makes her feel bad and you can make it go away...
Such a cruel, judgmental world.

Family Adventure said...

I am still kicking myself for ever shaving my thighs. What a mistake. I should have left well enough alone.

Unless your daughter is an extreme case, I agree she is too young to start removing the hair on her arms.

I have a friend - Indian by birth - whose daughter have very large, hairy eyebrows. Almost a unibrow. She struggled with this at school, but mom was adamant that she not do anything about it until she is older. It doesn't seem to be bothering her anymore, and now she's in grade 4. I'm sure as she gets older, she'll start having her eyebrows shaped, but for now, she seems content.

But I felt the same thing about her as I do about poor Elegant: You shouldn't have to worry about these things at 7!

Heidi

Josie said...

Growing up is such a pain.
You want to teach your girls to accept themselves as they are (which you are doing a fabulous job of by the way) but you don't want her to be uncomfortable or embarrassed.
Is she being teased about it or is it just her own perception?
I would think its to soon for hair removal because as we all know, once you start, you can't stop.
At the same time...

smalltownmom said...

I had hairy arms as a kid. I remember being teased about it at age 12-13... But I knew a girl who shaved her arms and they were always stubbly. So I didn't try it. Funny thing, now in my 40s my arms are hairless.

You are a good mom, you'll do the right thing for her, whatever it is.

Lisa@Take90West said...

Poor Elegant, she is too young to be struggling with these things already.
But, I totally understand. I shaved my arms once in junior high because I was so self conscious about them.

The Guider said...

What a toughie. I can see why you want to and I can see why you are hesitating. I guess I would say if she is not actually being teased about it, then don't start the cycle (and get her a long sleeved art shirt she can pull on at school, my daughter has one of my husband's old shirts).

Peggy Sez.. said...

I believe this is reason #55 why we homeschool.Kids can be cruel and having to be around the teasers on a daily basis can hurt. (been there.. had that done to me)

The Hotfessional said...

Absolutely - what a pain to have to think about at 7. But in the summer I bet it bleaches out in the sun, and in the winter, there's long sleeves, except in art class, right?

I always felt that way about my nose. But now that I can afford to get it changed? meh. It's me.

Lela said...

I would let her make the decision. It helps to keep the communication lines open (that we all know will slam closed soon enough as it is). But tell her what she is in for in the future if she does that. And who knows, maybe if you remove it, it will grow back in lighter?

blackbird said...

I'd tell her that women deal with hair (bushy brows, legs, armpits) removal when we turn 13. See if she'll let it go. No one else has mentioned it to her? Remind her that everyone has things they are self conscious about and that she's normal.

Flutterby said...

Is removing arm hair a *Thing* now? Or was it always and I just didn't know it? Shaving UNDER arms and legs, yeah but... arms??

Professor J said...

Wow. That's tough. I'm not a mom, but I know what it is like to be different. Hugs to both of you.

countrymouse said...

Poor little Elegant! I feel for her--and for you. I agree with you about mixed messages and her young age.

Lonnie said...

Okay, I may not be a typical guy but here's my perspective anyway...

I personally think the whole shaving thing has gotten way out of hand with most women. It seems like there's a movement to make all women look like pre-pubescent girls. Sure, I can understand women shaving their legs or armpits, or triming things up a bit here or there... but when you have to seriously discuss whether a seven year old needs to remove her arm hair then it's just gone too far.

Women are beautiful. (I don't personally need to qualify that with lots of conditions). I also won't think a woman is less beautiful because she has a little more hair here or there, or if she decides not to shave her legs. Sure, if you could reasonably be confused with another primate without shaving then I'd probably encourage it; otherwise it's really not a requirement in my book.

Yeah, no one likes to be different, especially when you are a kid. Of course one of those paradoxes in life is that the coolest people I ever knew were those who were way too confident to consider changing themselves to "fit in". Easier said than done, I know, but true nonetheless.

Linda and her Surroundings said...

My niece (now 27) was very hairy as a child. For a while, as she got older, she had her arms waxed because she hated them so much. The hair growth eventually thinned enough that she stopped doing that.

She was nicknamed "mouse" at school because she was hairy (blonde hair at least). It was not always easy for her. Kids can be cruel.

nadiya said...

she is seven.
shaving a seven year old seemed a tad bit extreme. it is a judgmental world. tell her that and explain it shouldn't be so.
DON'T shave. wait for a teenage screaming fight in 8 years or so. then she would have grounds for her own argument and if all is not well she can't really blame you

Happy Working Mom said...

Wow, that's tough! The girl in me that still remembers what it's like to be embarrassed around my friends says take care of it! Vanity will surround her soon, no matter how much we try to shelter our kids it's out there, and she'll want to shave her legs and wear make-up and all that other stuff. So I would take her telling you she doesn't like to roll her sleeves up as her way of asking for help with something that bothers her.

jenny said...

I was totally curious to see what people would say to this, my girlie has the same arm issue. She mentioned it once (she's also seven) last year and I just explained that everyone is different and we all have things that make us who we are. She took it at face value but I can't say that it'll last...

how about a shirt with 3/4 sleeves for art day? that way she doesn't have to push them up.