At what age should kids be allowed to make their own choices regarding things like their body hair? That’s really the central question in the debate over a viral video in which a mom defends her choice to remove her 12-year-old daughter’s lip hair—at the little girl’s request.
The TikTok video was posted by Vidya Gopalan, a North Carolina mom, and has racked up more than 20 million views. Over the video, which shows Gopalan carefully shaving her daughter’s upper lip, she wrote, “To moms: if your teen/tween asks to remove facial hair … please do it!”
Related: Mom waxes her young daughter’s unibrow and sparks major debate in viral TikTok
In the caption, she added a bit more context: “I tried doing this myself secretly at her age since I wasn’t allowed to do this until [high school] and it didn’t end well.”
@queencitytrends I tried doing this myself secretly at her age since I wasn’t allowed to do this until HS and it didnt end well #momlife #momtok #browngirl #browntiktok #momsover30 #momanddaughter #momanddaughters ♬ Just A Girl – No Doubt
In the video, Gopalan’s daughter can be heard saying, “Thank you so much, I don’t like it. I don’t like the way it looks,” as her mom buzzes away her lip hair with an electric hair trimmer.
Related: 6 powerful benefits of giving your child a choice
The comments were largely in support of Gopalan, as they should be. At 12, her daughter is old enough to have autonomy over her own body—if she doesn’t want to have hair on her upper lip, she is well within her rights to ask to have it removed. There isn’t some magical age that’s “old enough” to decide to shave or wax. She knows the hair is there and that she doesn’t want it to be. And the thing about hair is that it grows back, so if she ever changes her mind about that decision, she can just let it grow again.
“If hair removal makes her feel better, it’s a small thing to do,” Gopalan told Today. “Middle school is hard as is.”