Summer camps typically send out a recommended list of what to bring: life jacket, flip-flops, sleeping bag. But it's safe to assume they stop short of recommending that female campers come with their legs shaven and underarms waxed.
Still, an article in The New York Times suggests that more and more young girls are planning to visit aesthetic salons before heading into the wilderness.
J. Sisters, a popular Manhattan destination for hair removal, experiences an uptick in clients younger than 16 during May and June, according to manager Maggie Santo.
Precamp grooming is also apparently growing among adolescent boys who are visiting salons for facials as a pre-emptive strike against acne or to eliminate all signs of a unibrow.
In most cases, parents accompany their kids during the epilation process (which may also include laser hair removal). Some salons require signed parental consent for underage clients or will only agree to provide services once a child has reached a certain age (usually 14).
As the article points out, most young girls are booking waxing services to avoid drawing attention to the dark downy hair on their lower legs rather than requesting Brazilian bikini waxes as a sign of sexual precociousness.
But are kids themselves requesting waxing appointments – perhaps motivated by school friends who have begun shaving – or are parents encouraging the salon visits, concerned that their child may be teased far from home?
Reaction on Twitter included @dnr_pr's "So glad I'm too old for camp!" and @AmyKMW's "I feel sad for these kids."
The decision to begin shaving, by contrast, doesn't typically elicit much concern, whether because shaving is less expensive, less painful or more commonplace.
On the flip side, a girl who goes for a leg wax before a month or two at camp will not have to worry about regrowth or regular razor upkeep.
Natalie Gee, co-founder of Gee Beauty in Toronto and Bal Harbour, Fla., agrees that young girls have been coming in for precamp cleanups. "It's not pressure in a beauty pageant way; but they see things on their body that they don't like and they know they can do something about it."
Ms. Gee says she has had girls as young as 9 or 10 come in with their mothers, but mostly 12– or 13-year-olds who make up her youngest customers and request eyebrow or lower leg waxing. "We rarely see girls younger than 17 for bikini waxes," she says.
"Being 12 or 13 today is different from being 12 or 13 even five years ago," Ms. Gee continues. "There are all these influences, and girls want to look more feminine and I think that's okay … [Body hair] is the last thing a girl should be worrying about at camp."
What do you think about teens grooming for camp? How young is too young?