Straight Talk Advice

Sep 13, 2006

Mother & daughter splitting hairs over shaving

Dear Straight Talk: I’m 12 and I just started seventh grade. I’m having a disagreement with my mom over the right age to begin shaving. I want to shave now and my mom wants me to wait until eighth grade. It’s been so bad between us we agreed to write you and will do whatever you say.—Julie, Auburn

Dear Julie: My first impulse was to say that if you are in full-blown puberty or simply have a lot of leg hair, by all means start shaving, but if you are the typical 12-year-old with fine, blonde hair on your legs, compromise by shaving your underarms but wait until eighth grade to shave your legs. That was until I heard from the teen staff. They’ve won me over. You get the green light.
Here are their letters:

From Laura, 20: I don’t see what the big deal is. Twelve isn’t all that young to begin shaving—in fact, most girls I know were about that age when they started. While I think it would be a little ridiculous for someone younger than that to shave, it’s still just shaving. It’s not like she wants to dye her hair blue or get her belly button pierced. What will she be hurting by shaving a year earlier than her mom wants her to.

From Farren, 18: My mom and I had this same discussion. In sixth grade I went over to a friend’s house and she told me she shaved and that I should, too. So I did. I told my mom and she said I should wait.

Honestly, I had to start shaving because I had a lot more hair than most girls. And yes, it does affect your popularity at school. Sometimes I wish I had started shaving later because they say the longer you wait the finer your hair is when you get older, but I’m pretty sure that’s a myth.

Looking back, I think the whole thing is ridiculous. Shaving is not that big of a deal. I think any girl in seventh grade who wants to shave should be able to. It’s not like she’s asking to smoke or have sex.

From Brittney, 18: My sister and I both started shaving at the beginning of sixth grade. I was 11 and I’m happy my mom let me because having a dark head of hair, I had dark leg hair as well. Her compromise was that I couldn’t shave above the knees.

I had a good friend whose dad wouldn’t let her shave her legs or armpits until she was in eighth grade. She was made fun of throughout middle school. It wasn’t anything horrible, but I know she felt self-conscious about it, especially since all her friends were shaving. From that point on, she had a seriously strained relationship with her father.

Your daughter is almost a teenager and shaving can be a great rite of passage for a young girl—which you can teach her as her mother. It’s not like she is asking to put highlights in her hair or wear makeup. You can still set all the same boundaries but help her feel more feminine at the same time.

Whether or not you let her shave her legs, please let her shave her armpits simply for good hygiene.

  1. By AMELIA, age , on 04/26/2008

    When i first consulted my mum about shaving i was in the beginning of year seven, she said that i shouldn’t i didn’t argue. instead i went ahead and did it anyway. she didn’t notice until about grade nine but by then i don’t think it bothered her that much. but i don’t reccomend this i think you should talk to your mum and negotiate something and both decide together what you think is fair.

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  2. By maria, age , on 05/07/2008

    hiya i am 12 tomorrow we r havin gold and blue day it is gonna be hot i want to wer my blue mini skirt BUT i have black hair and dark skin so my hair shows terribly i am so affraid wen i do pe (sports ) coz we have to wer shorts plz i am scared to ask my mum ( i shave my armpits already)

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