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10 December 2023

Hair waxing for 8-year-olds? Shocking practice in salons

By Bindu Suresh Rai

“It was a child’s screams and guttural cries that first alerted me something strange was afoot at the salon I frequent in Karama,” said J Thakar, a mother of two. “What I saw simply disgusted me beyond imagination.”
Thakar’s shocking first-hand account of a practice that is now growing common across salons in Dubai has many concerned parents and authorities up in arms.
She recalled: “There was a wailing child, not more than eight or nine years, who was being held down by her mother, while the attendant was quickly attempting a bikini wax!
“I was shocked!” said Thakar, who is mother to an eight-year-old and a three-year-old girl. “Someone yelled at me to leave the room, but all I can recall are the poor girl’s screams and the bloody spots that covered her legs where she had been waxed.”
The concerned mother claimed she promptly informed the salon manager, who “very nonchalantly” said that it was common for young children to frequent for a leg wax; bikini was still (thankfully) uncommon amongst such young clientele.
Hair raising tale
Body hair removal amongst young adult females is almost a right of passage now as aesthetics, basic hygiene and peer pressure are brandished as the top reasoning for a frequent visit to the friendly neighbourhood salon.
Yet while up until a decade ago, waxing was limited to late teens and up, has seen a transformation with younger clientele now being roped in to wax [pardon the pun] lyrical about the necessity of body hair removal.
The shocking cases gained notoriety when New York City salon, Wanda’s European Skin Care Center, took to its web site a few years ago to advertise discount waxing for ‘virgin hair’ for children eight years and older.
“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!” the site proclaimed.
Julia K, who has been working three years at a salon in Barsha, prior to which she worked for five years in Satwa, spoke to Emirates 24|7 about some of the horrifying practices she was paid to indulge in.
“Initially, it was just a handful of women that would regularly come with their daughters, as young as nine or 10 years, asking us to wax their arms and legs,” recalled Julia. “But gradually requests went further to full bikini waxing.”
The Filipina national narrated an incident, when a young Arab national was dragged into the private room by her mother to get waxed.
“She was so young and small; she was crying the whole time her mother dragged her into the room,” said Julia. “When the child continued to beg and scream, the mother just beat her in front of us until she was pushed down on the table to get the job done.
“I was so scared; I tried to be as gentle as possible but for such a young girl, the waxing will naturally hurt more.”
Bhanu, who has been working at a salon in Deira for the past two years, said she was horrified at the lengths young children are being forced to go to for the sake of beauty.
“I understand mothers were competitive about their children, and even to an extent they force the young girls to get their eyebrows and upperlip threaded. But hot waxing on such sensitive skin… That is awful.”
She added: “I have seen blood on the skin of some these young kids. I refuse to work with children. I can’t knowingly be a part of a practice that hurts such innocents.”
However, Bhanu also grudgingly admitted that several times, it’s the young girls who request waxing themselves, despite the advice of an accompanying adult.
Peer pressure
Several parents who have indulged in the practice blame peer pressure at schools for this sudden fascination of waxing from a young age.
Kavita Krishnan, whose 10-year-old daughter studies in Emirates International School in Dubai, admitted that her child started waxing when she was nine.
“My daughter came home one day, crying because her friends made fun of her ‘hairy legs’ at school, calling her a bear and what not,” said Kavita. “When she threatened to stop eating, I finally succumbed and took her to the salon, thinking the pain would be enough to dissuade her.
“But the pressure of being teased or bullied at school won this battle.”
S K Nair, a mother of two pre teen daughters has a similar story, pointing a finger at other parents that have popularised the practice.
“I am not casting blame on anyone in particular, but it’s a simple case of cause and effect,” said the mother, who herself admitted that she only started waxing when she was 15 years.
However, J Thakar, who is a mother of an eight-year-old is adamant she won’t succumb to such practices.
“I am happy and prepared to talk to the parent of any child who raises a finger on my child’s lack of aesthetics, as some like to call it, at age eight,” she said. “It has to stop somewhere right, well, it stops with me.”


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