So the other day I was with a friend and she told me her ten-year-old wants to shave her legs. I think maybe she could have heard the sound of my heart breaking through my ribcage. Wait, WHAT?!!! And I know what you’re probably thinking. What’s the big deal? Girls shave their legs all the time. Yup, they do, but I’ll tell you why I had a visceral reaction.
Because I was a hairy girl too. And I know what it feels like. It sucks.
It sucks when you’re wearing shorts but feel like you’re wearing hairy legwarmers for everyone to see.
It sucks when you’re wearing short sleeves and you feel like everyone is staring at your gorilla arms.
It sucks when your eyebrows look less like Ernie’s and more like Bert’s.
It sucks to sit there and stare at your friend’s legs and wish your legs were as bald as a baby’s butt.
But here’s what bothered me the most about it. My friend’s daughter did not come up with that idea on her own. Not at ten. Someone made her feel like her hairy legs were a problem. Maybe another girl told her she should shave. Maybe she overheard a bunch of older girls talking about shaving. Maybe she saw something on TikTok or a TV commercial about unwanted unsightly ungroomed hair. There are a million places she may have gotten this idea in her head, so this is what I told my friend to do.
“Tell her she looks gorgeous.”
If your daughter says she’s too hairy, tell her she looks gorgeous.
If your daughter comes to you with a pimple on her nose, tell her she looks gorgeous.
If your daughter says she wishes her belly was smaller, tell her she looks gorgeous.
If your daughter says she hates her freckles, or wishes she were blonde, or wants to be shorter or taller or fatter or thinner, if she wishes she had straight hair or curly hair or more hair, if she wishes she had bigger muscles or bigger boobs or bigger eyes, if she wishes her face were more symmetrical, or hates that every time she looks in the mirror all she sees is a scar, there is only one thing to do. Tell her she looks gorgeous.
If she comes to you about absolutely anything about her appearance, the first words out of your mouth should be “You look gorgeous.”
And then if she still wants to shave her legs or put a little coverup on her pimple or pluck her unibrow, by all means, help her do it. But DON’T let the idea come from you. And the whole time you’re helping her do it, make sure to keep saying things like, “I don’t know why you need to do this because you already look so gorgeous.”
Why? Because her entire life, she is going to bombarded by people, by ads, by social media, by magazine spreads, by TV shows, and by a million other things telling her she needs to change her appearance in one way or another. Telling her she’s not perfect. Telling her she needs to try to be perfect.
But you will be the other voice. The voice that always reminds her she looks gorgeous. The voice that convinces her to hold her head up high, to like what she sees in the mirror, to feel comfortable in her skin, her shorts, her bathing suit, or whatever she’s wearing.
Tell her she looks gorgeous.
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