When your 10-year-old screams from the bathroom that they need your help right now, you moan and grumble to yourself that you thought potty training was supposed to free you from these particular shackles. What you don’t do is assume that they’re about to ask you if they can shave off all their pubic hair.
Welcome to the new world order, where pediatricians are now seeing girls who’ve just hit puberty grooming their nether regions. The docs say younger girls are being pushed to go bare because of social media, peer pressure and even internet porn.
But before you start locking down all your kid’s gadgets, let me offer up a slightly less terrifying scenario, courtesy of my own bathroom.
A new survey shows that 62 percent of women prefer to completely remove their pubic hair, while 84 percent say they do at least some grooming. I fall into camp two, someone who has trimmed the bush for years. We have a relatively open-door bathroom policy in our house, and my 10-year-old has walked in on me ‘scaping the pubes a few times over the years.
So when I got that scream from across the house, “Mom, can I get rid of my pubic hair?” wasn’t totally off-the-wall.
Her hair had been filling in slowly for more than a year and had now reached a point where it was poking out all sides of her underwear. Her request was simple: “Can I shave this?” she asked, pointing at her naked (hair-covered) crotch.
Of course I launched into a litany of reasons that it’s perfectly normal, and she shouldn’t feel like she has to get rid of it, and no one should be seeing that part of her body right now but her and blah, blah, blah, insert droning mom voice here. That part wasn’t new to her; she has several puberty books on her shelves, and I’d explained what pubic hair is the first time she found me trimming.
Her response was pretty much, “Yeah, I know, so, uh, can we talk about shaving now?”
This was not going away. So I asked the obvious question: “Why do you want to shave it?”
“It feels weird,” was the answer, “and it gets stuck in my underwear.”
Hard to argue with that. It’s exactly why I trim — well, that and the fact that long curlies getting stuck in the adhesive on the underside of a light-day pad is pure hell. And while I don’t remember much about being her age, I do remember it being really freakin’ weird to have my body changing in a million ways that I couldn’t control.
So I said yes.
To my 10-year-old.
Shaving her pubes.
This was not to make her look like something out of a porno flick. This was not because of social media or her peers. This was because she’s a kid who is being made uncomfortable by something that doesn’t need to make her uncomfortable.
The first time, I did the shaving to teach her how it’s done. Heeding the warnings that kids tend to get infections from shaving because they’re not terribly good at it, I then picked up a grooming kit that was less than $25, with both an adjustable blade and a guard. She hasn’t gotten to the point where she’s asked to shave again — nor am I pushing her to do it again — but if she does, I’ll be teaching her how to use the kit.
Because growing up is hard. If I can make it just a little bit easier, I will.
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