I don't shower every morning - what mother of a baby does? (oh, you do - bugger) - but on the days when I do and when the baby is not in the mood to wait for me with her toys in her cot or nap while I do it, she sits in a highchair in our bathroom chewing a rubber duck and watching me. And because we are both happiest when there is a steady stream of chatter, I explain to her what I am doing, what shower gel is, why suds need rinsing, the difference between shampoo and conditioner and that kind of thing. And on the (increasingly rare) occasions when I shave under my arms or defuzz my legs or deal with the bikini line, I try to remember to tell her that these things I am doing are what some mummies do, but they aren't necessary and she should never feel that she has to remove body hair, but that it's okay if she wants to as long as she doesn't feel pressured into doing so, and to come to me for advice before she does it so that she doesn't cut her teenage legs to shreds with a cheap bic razor, and that if underarm hair is good enough for Julia Roberts it should be good enough for everyone else etc etc.
Boy do I tie myself up in feminist knots. Luckily for me children rarely take notice of who their parents were before they existed, so she will probably never take in that I wrote a book on feminism or that The Times, one heady day in 2009, listed me as a feminist icon alongside Nigella Lawson and Michelle Obama (hahahahaha!) and will come to her own conclusions about hair removal, no doubt influenced by whatever the fashions for it are at the time. But while I hope that she makes up her own mind about most things in life, I hold on to the belief that these 'discussions' will help lead her to consider herself a feminist, and that my ramblings in the shower will have some influence, and go in at some level. However on the days she goes downstairs to sit in the same highchair and watch her dad shave I bet she's not subjected to such monologues and I bet he's not tortured by getting the conversation right. But that's because men's beards are not a feminist issue - something I must remember to talk to her about next time we're in the bathroom.