Dolly's Reviews > Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture

Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein
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's review
Feb 29, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 2012, germany, japan, native-american, nonfiction, parenting
Recommended for: Parents of daughters
Read from February 25 to March 01, 2012 , read count: 1

I think this is an important book for all parents to read, especially parents of little girls. It covers a variety of topics regarding America's view of girls as princesses and the girlie-girl culture that hasn't quite translated into true "girl power."

The way that we raise our girls seems to have changed so much - I grew up in the 70s and 80s and was encouraged to pursue higher education, a career, and having a family too. We were superwomen and we could have it all. Like the old Enjoli commercial from the late 70s/early 80s, I was told that I could "bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let you forget you're a man..." But to some extent, I think that has led to a good amount of stress and burnout as we enter our 40s, with careers, families, and all the trappings of household responsibilities, too.

So has this generation of women decided to change the way we bring up our girls - to accentuate the femininity to the point of being a powerless princess who needs a man to rescue her? I eschewed the frills of dresses, tutus and tiaras as a girl, so are we destined to mess up our daughters by going to the opposite extreme? I read somewhere that every generation finds a way to screw up parenting their children, just not in the same way that their parents screwed them up. Not sure how true it is, but certainly gets me thinking...

I have tried very hard to be a good role model for our daughters, and I have also tried to balance the amount of "princess" messages they get with more gender-neutral toys and strong female characters in the books we read. I place an emphasis on being active and eating healthy and not so much on looks and body shape. But it's very hard to limit their exposure to the wide variety of bad media examples out there, especially as they get older and get exposed to it by their friends and classmates. And the power of social media is so frightening to me - from interactive video games, to Facebook and who knows what else is coming in the future - how much semi-anonymous teasing and bullying will our girls experience? It's rather frightening.

Overall, I thought this was a well-researched and comprehensive look at the messages we are sending our girls and the media that manipulates them. It's a bit alarming, but armed with the facts of what is out there, hopefully we can guide our girls through the trickiest of the landmines and help them grow up to be secure, healthy, compassionate, and confident young women. I can only do my best.

interesting quotes:

"It would seem, then that parents should be working harder than ever to protect their daughters' childhoods, to prevent them from playing Sesame Street Walker." (p. 85)

"No wonder my kid is confused. So am I." (p. 88)

"Fairy tales have been called the porn of their day: bawdy, raucous, full of premarital shenanigans and double entendre. They were also rife with incest or the threat of it. The Grimms took that out too. The brothers' delicacy, however, did not extend to violence: on the contrary, they ratcheted up the bloody bits, believing they would scare children out of bad behavior." (pp. 102-103)

"Ultimately, it was not the Vanity Fair shoot or the stripper
stunt or the hooker heels that crossed the line: it was the fetishizing of Miley's wholesomeness, the inevitable trajectory from accidentally to accidentally-on-purpose to simply on-purpose sexy. Why isn't it until that final leap, when a girl actively acknowledges and participates in what is happening, that parents of young fans cry foul?"
(p. 130)

"So, for the record, here is what you are Officially Supposed To Do:
stress what your daughter's body can do over how it is decorated. Praise her for her accomplishments over her looks. Make sure Dad is on board - a father's loving regard and interest in a girl, as the first man in her life, is crucial. Involve her in team sports: a flotilla of research shows that participation lowers teen pregnancy rates, raises self-esteem, improves grades, probably cures the common cold. Volunteerism can give girls greater perspective and purpose, reducing body obsession. Media literacy can raise consciousness about marketers' manipulations."
(p. 137)

"In her indispensable book The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls, the historian Joan Jacobs Brumberg wrote that for girls growing up before World War I, becoming a better person meant being less self-involved: helping others, focusing on schoolwork, becoming better read, cultivating empathy. (p. 140)

"As for so many women, the pathology of self-loathing is permanently
ingrained in me. I can give in to it, I can modify it, I can react against it with practiced self-acceptance, but I cannot eradicate it. It frustrates me to consider what else I might have done with the years of mental energy I have wasted on this single, senseless issue.
(p. 141)

"...I had often wondered whether [Hilary] Clinton was a symbol of how far we'd come as women or how far we had to go. Was she proof to my girl that 'you can do anything' or of the hell that will rain down on your if you try?" (pp. 147-148)

"Suddenly I recalled the other part of the superhero story - that the gift of power elevates but also isolates. That's fine if you are a comic book character, not so much if you are a six-year-old girl." (pp. 150-151)

From Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers' Schemes by Sharon Lamb and Lyn Mikel Brown, The trouble is, Brown and Lamb say, being 'one of the boys' is as restrictive as the other option [being 'for the boys'], in part because it discourages friendship with other girls: a girl who is 'one of the boys' separates herself from her female peers, puts them down, is ashamed or scornful of anything associated with conventional femininity." (pp. 151-152)

"In the early days of the Web, people feared their daughters would be stalked by strangers online, but the far bigger threat has turned out to come from neighbors, friends, peers. " (p. 168)

"What mother has not, from time to time, felt the urge to protect her daughter by locking her in a tower? Who among us doesn't have a tiny bit of trouble letting our children go? If the hazel branch is the mother I aspire to be [from the Grimms' version of Cinderella], then Old Mother Gothel [from the Grimms' version of Rapunzel] is my cautionary tale: she reminds us that our role is not to keep the world at bay but to prepare our daughters so they can thrive within it." (p. 192)

new words: miscegenation
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