My eldest daughter, in grade 3, came home from school the other day with this story. The girl who sits next to her looked at her and said, "Your legs are really hairy. You look like a man. Also, you don't brush your hair well enough."
Then my daughter asked me if she could shave her legs. My heart sank.
Grade 3? Already hairy leg-conscious?
I gave her a firm answer: no way.
"But YOU do, Mom!"
"Yes, but I'm older."
Full disclosure: I don't shave my legs for most of the winter. I let the hair grow freely. Except if I go swimming. But for most of the spring and summer, I have to allow time for leg shaving in my regimen. I'm really low maintenance (I could probably be accused of not brushing my hair enough), so sometimes this summer routine nearly does me in. I did NOT want my 8 year old daughter to start on this path. She needs a lot of encouragement just to have a shower. I can't imagine adding shaving.
Why do kids say such stupid things sometimes? Several months ago, a different friend told her that her new haircut looked like a boy's. "I'd never get my hair cut like THAT," she said. "You look like a boy. It looks weird."
The morning after the hairy leg incident, although it was still a balmy 25 degrees Celsius outside, said daughter wanted to wear full-leg leggings with a skirt overtop.
"Aren't you going to be hot?" I asked, knowing the reason for this wardrobe choice.
"I'll be fine," she said.
I dropped her off at school. She hopped out of the car and I rolled down my window.
"Don't let anyone tell you what you should or shouldn't do with your body. You're beautiful. You remember that. You're beautiful."
She shyly smiled, then turned and skipped toward the school.
These are the things I wish I could take away from her - others' expectations of the way she looks, what she becomes, what she wears, and so on. I want her to know her beauty - hairy legs and all.