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Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein
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Sep 25, 11

bookshelves: 52-in-2011
Read in September, 2011

Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein (pp. 256)

Women’s issue writer, Peggy Orenstein tackles the pink and frilly culture that permeates the modern lives of our young girls. Her style seeks to understand the ways of princess-obsession, Disney divas, brats, midriffs, and all things glitter for herself as she raises her own young daughter. Can the pink be escaped? What messages are being taught in the princess culture? Are girls being too sexualized too early? What can you do to protect your children? Can you keep it out of your house?

I was expecting a feminist writer to write a one-sided all-pink-equal- bad-parenting type of essay, but Orenstein’s take is actually quite couched and very open-minded. She talks to experts in psychology, history, sociology and marketing in a multitude of arenas to bring some explanation to where the culture came from, how different generations perceive the current culture, and where messages hit their audience and where they don’t.

The sections on the development of Disney Princess brand (only 10 years old) is incredibly interesting for any parent who grew up with the Wide World of Disney every Sunday night. The marketing of pink as a required profit point in toy retail is salient and valuable for anyone thinking twice about buying a gift. The Miley Cyrus-affect and lack of real girl superheroes also come a bit of a surprise. Haven’t we come further in empowering our girls? Are there new definitions of empowerment?

The book raises a lot of great discussion topics and never gets overly judgmental. Her lasting thought Is that strong parenting and continual communication with your girls will prevent the pink and frill from turning your daughter in a vapid pole dancer. Ultimately, the girly girl culture can be taken as pure pretend play or a full-on objectication of beauty as the only value our girls have to offer. Orenstein believes there’s something in the middle, but only girls who are raised with self-confidence and thought will be able to make those distinctions later in life.

A valuable and interesting read. At a pure academic level, it’s a nice lens to look at the feminist movement. For parents of young girls, especially moms, it’s definitely worth the read no matter your personal point of view on pink and princesses.
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