Should mum help 6-year-old daughter remove leg and back hair?

Photo: Mumsnet/TellerTuesday4EVA
Photo: Mumsnet/TellerTuesday4EVA 

Social pressures around female body hair can be difficult enough for women to navigate, but what about when it's affecting a 6-year-old girl?

A conflicted mum has taken to the Mumsnet forums with her dilemma - and whether she should assist her daughter to remove leg and lower back hair that's causing the child to become self-conscious and upset.

With only empathy and concern for her daughter, she asks for advice from fellow Mumsnetters, explaining the situation.

"DD has just turned 6. She has and always has had very hairy legs & a hairy lower back. I presumed it was baby down & would go away in time but it hasn't & it's gone darker as she's gotten older. I'll attach some pics below. I have PCOS (personally never suffered with the hair problem) so I'm pretty sure it's linked to hormones."

She then details her child's recent awareness of the noticeable hair and her wish to remove it.

"In the summer she became aware of it & that the other girls at school didn't have the same. She asked me if there was a way to get rid of the hair, we talked about it & everyone's bodies being different & that coupled with the sun lightening the hair pacified her for a while. 

Since she's gone back to school she's mentioned it again quite a few times. I have to point out here that nobody else has mentioned it, classmates etc, it's DD herself that has the issue she isn't being picked on or anything because of it. Now the weathers getting colder she's into tights & trousers for uniform so that's pacified her again."

However, now the warmer weather is approaching again, her daughter doesn't want to go to swimming lessons because the water makes her hair look more obvious and "worse".

She adds, "There's no way I would use hair removal cream on her skin & certainly wouldn't let her attempt anything herself but part of me thinks if she's adamant she wants it removing I should help her to do so.


AIBU [Am I being unreasonable]? No bitchy comments please, I do realise she's very young but just want to do my best to help her."

The responses are overwhelmingly supportive, with women telling their own stories of early hair growth and the effect it had on their confidence. And while the obvious answer would be for society to evolve into acceptance, this mum is dealing with the here and now of her daughter's personal pain.

User greensnail responded with a suggestion to rule out any health issues before any hair removal.

"I wonder if it would be worth a trip to the doctors to see if there is anything that can be done. I had similar as a young child, very hairy legs from age 5 ish and I went through puberty early from the age of 8. I was never taken to the doctor about this but it was not easy for me to cope with at that age."

Most said that they would help their child to remove the hair rather than have her find ways to do it herself.

"For whatever reason your DD is self conscious about this. It must be so hard when she is so young but I would be tempted to let her and help her remove it. Probably with an electric razor. It is her body and we aren't talking about permanent changes to her body. I was always self conscious of my body hair as a child and my mums refusal to let me get rid of it had me missing lunches at school so I could pay for a razor!" wrote lunar1.

Pringlecat agreed with both options.

"Another vote for take her to the doctors. Most girls her age don't have hairy legs and you have PCOS, so worth checking out if there's anything going on medically that you need to keep an eye on," she writes.

"Generally though, I would help her remove the hair. It's really embarrassing being the first hairy girl, and just because her peers haven't noticed yet, doesn't mean they won't. She's not comfortable with the hair on her legs, and given most women choose to remove theirs, she's not expressing a controversial opinion that is likely to change when she gets older.

It's a dilemma not every parent will face, but dealing with it from a position of empathy rather than point-blank refusing options, will result in a dialogue that ultimately empowers the child to make decisions about her own body. It's a good lesson to learn early, despite the social expectation that female body hair should be removed."