Pressure from their parents and their peers pushes more and more under-12s into hair-removal spas
By Diana Zlomislic, Living Reporter
Rivcah Maclean had been working as an aesthetician at an Etobicoke spa for just a few years when she received her first unsettling request from a woman in her late 30s demanding a bikini wax – for her 9-year-old daughter.
“You could tell the girl didn’t want to do it,” Maclean said. “The mother wanted it because they were going to Europe for the summer.”
Since the child was barely developed and virtually hairless, applying hot wax to such sensitive skin would’ve been torture. After consulting her manager, Maclean convinced the mom to hold off.
Is “baby waxing” the next big thing?
Though not quite as popular as mani-pedi parties for toddlers, aestheticians around Toronto are scheduling more hair-removal appointments than ever for the under-12 set.
“The trend now for adults is for less body hair and that is being passed down to younger age groups,” says dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett of DLK on Avenue.
While Maclean, who now works at Novo Spa in Yorkville, has never performed a Brazilian on a tween, she does wax the arms, eyebrows, legs and armpits of about three girls in an average week.
“More mothers are pressuring the girls to look a certain way,” she says. And peer pressure doesn’t help.
When her daughter was 11 years old, Narges Ehsani, an aesthetician at Tips Nail Bar on the Danforth, waxed the girl’s eyebrows after she came home from school one day in tears. Classmates, Ehsani learned, had been calling her daughter a “hairy beast.” The pain that came from cleaning the unibrow was nothing compared to the harassment her daughter felt at school, she says.
It’s critical that parents try to temper unrealistic beauty ideals instead of supporting them, says Alyson Shafer, a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s leading parenting experts.
There’s a difference between a mother who’s talking with her daughter about options for hair removal and one who forces her child into aesthetic services because they want a miniature version of themselves.
“I don’t think parents should even be making decisions about their kids’ haircuts, let alone other body hair,” she says. “If a mother says `You can’t go to a pool party with that hair sticking out! … That’s awful!”
At Caress Laser & Aesthetics in Ajax, skin therapist Asal Bayati says most of her preteen clients come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. “The youngest would’ve been about 6,” says Bayati, who owns the clinic on Old Kingston Rd. “And that was just for the unibrow.”
Bayati says mothers often call her looking for alternatives to waxing. Since the hair is typically much too fine for a laser treatment, she’ll suggest trying a chemical depilatory like Nair, which recently introduced a fruity scented line for young girls called Nair Pretty.
“You just have to be very careful. Make sure the kids aren’t leaving it on for too long. It can burn.”