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Since my heritage includes a few of the more hairy ethnicities from Europe, my family is quite hairy and always has been, (you should see my hobbit feet in winter when I haven't shaved them for example - at least they aren't as bad as my father's but still. . . )

When I was young, I had hairy legs before my legs became truly hairy because of adolescence. Early in fourth grade, a then-girlfriend of mine "dumped me" because I had hairy legs and wasn't shaving yet.

My daughter has my genes and though she, thankfully, has a lighter hair color than I, she too already has quite a bit of hair on her legs. I don't plan on pointing it out or anything - I figure she'll let me know when she has noticed and wants to do something about it. However, I was wondering approximately when I am likely to recieve this information/request from her, as most of the kids I have dealt with were students and I didn't pay much attention to whether their legs were shaved or not, or they were way too young. Is there an average age young girls start this practice? It does seem to me, it is fairly likely a lot of girls begin before sixth grade - am I correct on that count?

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As an aside - I would not consider this a hygiene issue - and your child should be reminded of that fact. – OldCurmudgeon Dec 5 '13 at 0:23

3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

In my 11 year old daughter's class, none are even close to this stage. Of my wider group of friends, only one has a daughter that has started shaving her legs, but she had to start at about 8 - very early puberty for that one...has her mother's genes.

From the UK's National Health Service guidance,

Most girls will begin puberty at 8-14 years of age, with the average age being 11.

but hair growth beyond the genitals isn't expected until the Tanner Stage 5, which is usually just over 14 years old.

So your daughter is well ahead of the curve in this area - the key thing to do is to make sure she doesn't think it's weird or wrong, but just to accept that it is happening; that you had to deal with the same thing; and that it shouldn't be a major problem. She can decide whether she wants to do something about it.

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I started shaving in 6th grade when the girl who sat next to me in gym pointed out to me my legs were hairy. My leg hair wasn't dark--it was quite blond, actually, but it was mortifying that a classmate had to point this out to me. It quickly dawned on me that I was probably one of the last girls in my substantial 6th grade class to start shaving my legs. My mom also assumed, I suppose, that I would mention to her when I needed to shave my legs. I wish she'd paid more attention and encouraged me to shave sooner so I could have avoided the embarrassment. I asked my mom that night if I could shave my legs and she, of course, said yes.

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I'm just also worried about being the one to make her feel self-conscious about any of things. The hair is natural - she just happens to live in a time and a society where it is considered inappropriate for women to be "hairy." However, I will definitely keep your perspective in mind as well. – balanced mama Dec 4 '13 at 6:18

First my answer then my story.

Answer, girls start shaving when they feel the need to due to social pressure or a desire to do so AND when their parents feel it is appropriate. Just as you don't want to be made fun of as Meg pointed out, you also don't want to overly embrace vanity and place your self worth on looks. We dress and clean ourselves as a courtesy to others and as a cultural norm. Shaving is the same.

My story. My 10 year old daughter started puberty early and has had hairy legs for awhile. She has been asking to shave but hasn't been horrified or overwhelmed by the fact she has hairy legs. My wife didn't shave till high school and was against letting my daughter shave at a young age. I'm also pretty conservative and don't like the cultural focus on the obsessive beautification of women. However, I felt my daughter had a good grasp on why she wanted to shave her legs and so over the course of a few months we gently prodded my wife in the same direction. Finally we all agreed it was fine for my daughter to shave her legs. My wife talked to her about it, spoke about how it didn't affect her value as a person whether she shaved or not and now I have a daughter who shaves her legs.

So, I think generally it depends on each family, but most probably start between 8 and 13. My added value is to never forget that as a young girl don't let her get defined by her looks - in her own mind.

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