Hair Waxing for Tweens: How Young Is Too Young?
Girls can be in such a hurry grow up fast -- they want to wear makeup, carry purses and get waxed. Wait ... waxed?
Yep, teen and tweendom comes with more and more of the trappings of womanhood these days, and salon owners say they now see girls as young as 8 coming in to get unwanted body hair removed.
The youngest waxers tend to want to get rid of the dark fuzz on their upper lips or shape up unibrows, and are often the children of clients, Diane Fisher, owner of Eclips Kids Salon in Ashburn, Va., tells ParentDish.
"Where we live, there's a lot of Middle Easterners," she says. "Lots of the girls have dark hair for their age. They're self-conscious."
Wanda Stawczyk, owner of Wanda's European Skin Care Center in New York, says girls who start waxing young, even before they have dark hair, will always have lighter, thinner hair.
"It's a very big result," she tells ParentDish. "The hair is diminished almost 100 percent."
She advocates for it even more strongly on her website.
"I call it the 'Virgin' -- waxing for children 8 years old and up who have never shaved before," the website reads. "Virgin hair can be waxed so successfully that growth can be permanently stopped in just 2 to 6 sessions. Save your child a lifetime of waxing ... and put the money in the bank for her college education instead!"
Stawczyk says the number of young girls she sees has increased by about 50 percent in the past year.
Many of her littlest clients start coming to her when they are 8 or 9 years old and get a range of services from lip waxes to lower leg waxes, Stawczyk says.
"Everything but bikini," she tells ParentDish. "We don't want to introduce them to that kind of service yet."
Regular bikini waxing starts at 14 or 15 for her clients, Stawczyk says.
And the ouch factor?
"The children, they don't feel the pain," Stawczyk insists. "They have weaker hair. All of them, when they come the first time, they're afraid, but it doesn't hurt them. I would say it hurts less than a Band-Aid."
Helps With Their Self Esteem
But is all this OK, or is it harmful for girls to get waxed at such a tender age? For the most part, there isn't a problem, says Rebekah Williams, assistant professor of clinical pediatrics and adolescent medicine at Indiana University.
"For some young women, it actually helps with their self esteem," she says of girls who are embarrassed about visible dark growth.
But Williams does issue one caveat.
"It's fine to wax any body hair," she tells ParentDish. "It's the pubic hair that's most concerning to me."
Waxing pubic hair if a girl is too young can make it difficult for doctors to tell if a girl is maturing as she should, Williams says.
"We use development of a certain type of hair and distribution of hair as a marker of normal puberty," she says.
Doctors look primarily at breast and hair development to determine if puberty is progressing at a healthy rate. Facial hair and underarm hair are a part of that, but pubic hair is a key indicator -- and not only the presence of it, but its location, as well. One indication of the final stage of puberty is the pubic hair hitting the leg, Williams says. If that hair is waxed too soon, doctors lose an important marker.
After puberty, though -- which can come very early for some girls -- Williams has no issues with waxing of any sort.
"After puberty is complete and we know that it's progressed normally, there's nothing concerning about bikini waxing," she tells ParentDish.
Others, however, think the message waxing sends girls is an unhealthy one.
"Girls are learning the worst possible lessons about body image and body hair," Dr. Diane Levin, professor of education at Wheelock College in Boston and co-author of the book "So Sexy So Soon" tells MSNBC. "Keep your bodies like little girls' because that's what men like."
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.