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Question

3rd November 2008 (01:05)
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Quick and slightly silly question for my flist - this is research for a fic I'm writing.

At what age would it be considered normal for an (American) woman to start shaving her legs, assuming she does so? Is it something the parents of a teenager would ever discourage on the grounds that "you're too young to do that" ? (Or even "It's too expensive" or "It's too dangerous, you might cut yourself.")

The person in question here is Dawn, and I'm trying to work out Buffy's reaction. Though feel free to speculate in the comments on other Buffyverse characters' attitudes to personal hair removal. :-)

Comments

Posted by: spuffyduds (spuffyduds)
Posted at: 3rd November 2008 01:27 (UTC)

I would say 11-12-13, that range? The hair becomes more noticeable with puberty. And it's not uncommon for parents to react negatively, as it's kind of an "I want people to notice me in a dating way" marker.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd November 2008 01:51 (UTC)

So Buffy will have a few snide comments to make about Dawn doing it, but by Season 7 she'll have had to get used to the idea?

Thanks!

Posted by: fix me, motherfucker! i'm standing right here. (immortality)
Posted at: 3rd November 2008 01:46 (UTC)
[buffy] willow | the dark inside of me

I remember starting when I was in sixth grade (so that would be, uh, 12 for me). I knew some girls who had started doing it in fifth grade. I know my parents never discouraged me from doing it and I don't know anyone who had parents react negatively, but I'm sure there are those who do. (I can see Buffy freaking out a bit though about Dawn doing it. :D)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd November 2008 01:50 (UTC)

I'm pretty sure Buffy would freak out at anything Dawn did that suggests she's growing up... She doesn't let her wear high heels, she doesn't even let her drink coffee. But if you and spuffyduds are both saying its a "right after puberty" thing, I imagine that by the time Dawn's 16 in Season 7 even Buffy will have got over her freak-out.

So she'll feel no shame at stealing Dawn's razors for herself. :-)

Thanks!

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd November 2008 01:56 (UTC)

Oh, another question especially for you. :-).

Tara. Shave or not shave? (Because she's your basic earth-mother Wiccan natural goddess type) And Willow too, after she converted to Wicca?

That question's not for the fic, just curiosity. :-)

Posted by: fix me, motherfucker! i'm standing right here. (immortality)
Posted at: 3rd November 2008 01:58 (UTC)
[buffy] satsu | a keen and bloody sword

I would go with shave. It just feels nicer in general when you shave your legs (speaking from experience) and I can't think of any reason why they wouldn't. They'd probably be very lax about it, but, yeah.

*has clearly put much thought into this*

Posted by: none of the above (frogfarm)
Posted at: 3rd November 2008 03:06 (UTC)
faith S4 puppy

IMO: Willow does despite her mom's subtle attempts to encourage her to go against the dominator patriarchy paradigm. Tara didn't until Willow, and only for special occasions.

Posted by: Owen (owenthurman)
Posted at: 3rd November 2008 03:27 (UTC)

Shaving for special occasions leads to prickly interregnums that are nobody's friend.

Shave or not shave. There is no try.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd November 2008 09:44 (UTC)
tara

Shaving for special occasions leads to prickly interregnums that are nobody's friend

Actually, there's probably an idea for a ficlet there in which Willow and Tara make this discovery for the first time, if I go with frogfarm's assessment. :-)

Posted by: azdak (azdak)
Posted at: 3rd November 2008 06:11 (UTC)

It all depends how hairy the legs are. I've never had to shave my legs because it wouldn't make any noticeable difference(the downside is my eyebrows are practically invisible as well, but hey, you can't win 'em all). Willow, being a red-head, is most unlikely to need to shave her legs, and Tara is fair enough that she might not need to either. It's the dark-and-hairy Mediterranean types that don't have any choice in the matter, at least amongst white women.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd November 2008 09:49 (UTC)

Interesting. I've got S7 Buffy needing to steal a razor from someone, and it looks like a case is emerging that Willow used to shave her legs in the early seasons as an act of anti-parental rebellion and/or conformity, but in early S7 might have given up bothering. So Buffy has to raid Dawn's stuff after all.

Thanks!

Posted by: azdak (azdak)
Posted at: 3rd November 2008 10:26 (UTC)

Buffy raiding Dawn's stuff also seems to have more potential for interesting conflict than just asking Willow if she can borrow her razor.

Posted by: The Mezzanine (deird1)
Posted at: 3rd November 2008 02:09 (UTC)

Well, I'm not American, but I started shaving my legs at 14. And I was about the last girl in my year level to start...

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd November 2008 09:52 (UTC)

So if Buffy tried to forbid Dawn from doing it by age 16, Dawn would look at her as if she were completely mad and ignore her, eh? :-)

Thanks!

Posted by: The Anti-OTP (snowpuppies)
Posted at: 3rd November 2008 02:21 (UTC)

I started when I was...12 or 13, I think, and it was probably a good year after my school mates did. I think it usually happens when you switch from elementary school to junior high or middle school (whichever your district has), which is usually 5th or 6th grade.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd November 2008 09:53 (UTC)

Or in Dawn's case, when you switch from being a green ball of energy to a teenager. :-)

Thanks!

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 3rd November 2008 02:35 (UTC)

Generally, end of elementary school, beginning of junior high (or middle school). So 11-13. I don't know about other people's parents, but my mom gave me shaving tips to keep me from slashing my legs up. Odds are, by the time Dawn appeared in S5, she'd already been shaving her legs for a couple years.

Also, it's probably likely Buffy gave her advice on how to do it. My older sister did even though we had an antagonistic relationship at that point. It's a girl thing.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd November 2008 09:57 (UTC)

it's probably likely Buffy gave her advice on how to do it

I can work with that. I'm leaning towards Buffy having bought her an electric razor because the idea of her baby sister using actual razor blades freaks out her over-protective side, though. :-)

Thanks!

Posted by: eowyn_315 (eowyn_315)
Posted at: 3rd November 2008 02:51 (UTC)
Hairpuller

It sounds like you've got all the answers you need, but here's my personal experience - I started shaving in middle school (11 or 12? I don't exactly remember). The reason I started is because that was the age we started having to change for gym class, and so it was embarrassing to be seen in your gym shorts with hairy legs. It would be particularly noticeable on Dawn since she has dark hair.

I had to ask my mom about shaving - I'm not sure if she thought I was too young or if it just didn't occur to her to suggest it. But she didn't have any kind of negative reaction when I brought it up, and showed me how to do it the first time. I was more afraid of cutting myself than she was, so I started with an electric razor and eventually graduated to a disposable razor.

I can't imagine Buffy still having a reaction to Dawn shaving her legs by the time she's 14. She might make a joke about it (like telling her not to shave her legs before a first date), but I think she's well past the age of freaking out.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd November 2008 10:00 (UTC)

I was more afraid of cutting myself than she was, so I started with an electric razor and eventually graduated to a disposable razor.

I'm thinking Buffy's over-protectiveness might lead to her insisting Dawn uses an electric razor? (Or, buying her one as a present and being pointedly upset if she doesn't use it.)

Thanks!

Posted by: eowyn_315 (eowyn_315)
Posted at: 3rd November 2008 14:12 (UTC)

Well, from experience, electric razors aren't nearly as good as a regular blade. The shave isn't as close, which means you have to do it more often, and it takes longer. I think Buffy would be more likely to teach Dawn the proper way to do it without cutting herself, and by 14, she really should know how to use a disposable.

The only time I could see Buffy being paranoid about Dawn cutting herself is at the end of season 5 when they find out what Dawn's blood does - but there wasn't really time for leg-shaving then. I think season 6 and onward, she would've seemed ridiculous if she tried to keep Dawn from doing what every other normal teenage girl does.

Posted by: Owen (owenthurman)
Posted at: 3rd November 2008 03:20 (UTC)

When I started dating in my mid teens, most of the young women my age had already made a habit of it for years. I had to keep an eye out for those that never started (my personal preference).

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd November 2008 10:02 (UTC)

I don't remember leg-shaving being all that widespread here when I was a teenager, although I gather it's a lot more prevalent in America (and, perhaps, here too in more recent times). Hence asking the question.

Thanks!

Posted by: curiouswombat (curiouswombat)
Posted at: 3rd November 2008 08:56 (UTC)
D-d does glam

Question already well answered - and interesting!

My daughter is, of course, not American, but she is one year younger than Dawn would be, so a reasonable match. I think she was about 14 - but her body hair is fair. She started because when the light caught her legs she was looking a bit like a teddy bear...

Because Buffy was not 'parent' at this time in Dawn's life she was probably quite helpful - as much to make sure Dawn didn't pinch her razors. I was the parent and I was helpful!

As for the Tara thing - I know more than one person who only shaves their legs in the summer when they are more likely to show. In nursing circles in the late 70s unshaven legs=serious Christian!

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd November 2008 10:07 (UTC)

In nursing circles in the late 70s unshaven legs=serious Christian

Interesting! I could see Tara's family being the types to teach her that interfering with the body God/nature gave you is unnatural and a sign of being a shameless harlot, or something like that, and she might have internalised it. And Willow's mother, as frogfarm suggested above, telling her not to give in to the patriarchal beauty myth that oppresses women...

Thanks. :-)

Posted by: Murielle (murielle)
Posted at: 4th November 2008 00:08 (UTC)

The first time I got hold of a razor, with intent, I was about eleven or twelve. My mom had a hairy canary. She seriously lost the bird. I was too young, it would make my hair grow in darker and thicker (right-but never had to shave much more than once a month or so, anyway) and I'd cut myself and bleed to death, or some such nonsense. My mom, bless her, had serious problems with my maturation. I guess being a widow she figured it was a slippery slope: one day shaving my legs, the next knocked up and strung out on cheap wine. LOL!

I was such a goody-goody. She had no worries. ;-)

Posted by: lara beckinsale (larabeckinsale)
Posted at: 4th November 2008 02:49 (UTC)
sarah1

I started at the age of 12, 13 maybe, I didn't really needed to do it because the hair was not that very noticeable but I wanted to do it anyway, I felt very selfconcious about it, my mom didn't object either so... But by the age of 14 I really did needed to do it.

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