Today, during a conversation with my ex, I found out that he encouraged my daughter to start shaving her underarms. He and his girlfriend sat her down, told her that they noticed the hair under her arms, and told her she should shave it off. She didn't bring it up to them, they went to her.
This bothers me. Should it not? She and I have discussed hair removal before, and she decided that when she was ready, she would come and talk to me or her dad, just so long as she talked to somebody rather than take a razor to herself without knowing how to safely and properly do so, AND she has incredibly sensitive skin, so she needs to be even more careful. She has recently had her first period, and has the hair growth that usually goes along with that. She's 11 years old and in middle school, so she's hyper sensitive about her body and these changes and everything in general, these days.
I told my ex I wanted to talk to her before she shaves, and he said that was fine, but that I needed to make sure I did so, because "it looks like she has a wookie in a headlock" and she has to be embarrassed by that. I said she had never mentioned having a problem with it before (and honestly, although I assumed she did, I haven't even noticed that she has underarm hair, so it can't be that bad), and he got exasperated with me and "It's embarrassing. And people are going to make fun of her. You know (Girlfriend's Son) is going to tease her for it." I wanted to point out that perhaps they should teach Girlfriend's Son to not tease, rather than forcing my daughter to shave to avoid his teasing, but that seemed far too much like engaging him and I really didn't want to do that.
He suggested that I should understand how she would feel because I am incredibly hairy myself (said the man with a thick coat of back hair). I told him that I will talk to her, and I will show her how to shave and what to use, but that I wasn't going to force her to shave if she didn't want to. He pointed out again how bad she must feel about it, because "when we talked to her about it, she was SO embarrassed." Of course she was!
I tell her that as long as she keeps herself clean, her hair and her body are hers, and she gets to decide what to do with them (I feel the need to disclaimer I mean in regards to shaving, hairstyles, clothes, etc.). We had a sort of similar issue when she wanted to get a pixie cut, and her dad said he didn't know if he was going to allow it. That flummoxed me. It's not like she wanted to shave an expletive into her head, she just wanted a pixie cut (which she did end up getting, and rocks in a spiky, funky way that she loves and makes her feel amazing). I just worry about the lessons she is learning. And I worry that I'm overreacting. I don't see her until early next week, so I think having to wait a couple of days until we can talk about it is bothering me, too (we can't really talk while she's there).
I shave my underarms, if I'm wearing a bathing suit or a tank top or similar, but that's usually the only time I do so. I'm rocking armpit scruff as I type, and I don't give a shit what anyone thinks about it. I'm perfectly fine if she wants to shave her underarms or whatever else, but I hate the idea of her being shamed into doing so because someone else finds it offensive/embarrassing/not normal/whatever. Ugh.