The Darker Side of Being a Princess

June 9th, 2011 Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, Kelly, Non-Fiction, Pop Culture

Peggy Orenstein’s Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture is a must-read for parents. Orenstein looks at the long-term effect of different cultural influences on children, especially girls.

For example, in 2001 a Disney executive went to a Disney on Ice Show and noticed that little girls were wearing homemade princess costumes. As a good businessman, he saw a market . . . and the Disney Princess line was born. In 2009 sales of the line exceeded four billion dollars.

Is there anything wrong with girls pretending to be princesses? Not inherently. But if girls are only shunted towards certain toys—specifically “girls” toys—and as toys become less creative and don’t encourage imagination and free play, what’s the long-term impact? Princesses might seem like idealistic and safe role models for children, but is it healthy to focus so much on being pretty? And is so much advertising directed towards children and so many branded products healthy? Are we training our daughters to be the evil stepsister in stories like Cinderella?

Orenstein discusses the concept—and risk—of focusing too much on being pretty in her book. As children’s older and their ‘princesses’ (e.g. Miley Cyrus and other actresses/TV shows marketed to children) get older, girls are taught to act sexy without understanding the consequences, or actually feeling the emotions they’re portraying.

I feel like I’m giving short shrift to Orenstein’s well-written and witty argument and book. Each chapter focuses on different topic relating to the girly-girl culture, from childhood beauty pageants to the online world to toys. Each chapter brings up interesting questions and backs the questions up with research and anecdotes.

If you like books on social issues this is a great book for you. And I’d definitely recommend it to the parents of small children, especially girls.

Read by: Kelly

Title: Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture
Author: Peggy Orenstein
Source: Public Library
Read: June 2011

 

 

 

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