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Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture [Kindle Edition]

Peggy Orenstein
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (163 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The rise of the girlie-girl, warns Peggy Orenstein, is no innocent phenomenon. Following her acclaimed books Flux, Schoolgirls, and the provocative New York Times bestseller Waiting for Daisy, Orenstein’s Cinderella Ate My Daughter offers a radical, timely wake-up call for parents, revealing the dark side of a pretty and pink culture confronting girls at every turn as they grow into adults.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Product Description
The acclaimed author of the groundbreaking bestseller Schoolgirls reveals the dark side of pink and pretty: the rise of the girlie-girl, she warns, is not that innocent.

Pink and pretty or predatory and hardened, sexualized girlhood influences our daughters from infancy onward, telling them that how a girl looks matters more than who she is. Somewhere between the exhilarating rise of Girl Power in the 1990s and today, the pursuit of physical perfection has been recast as a source—the source—of female empowerment. And commercialization has spread the message faster and farther, reaching girls at ever-younger ages.

But, realistically, how many times can you say no when your daughter begs for a pint-size wedding gown or the latest Hannah Montana CD? And how dangerous is pink and pretty anyway—especially given girls' successes in the classroom and on the playing field? Being a princess is just make-believe, after all; eventually they grow out of it. Or do they? Does playing Cinderella shield girls from early sexualization—or prime them for it? Could today's little princess become tomorrow's sexting teen? And what if she does? Would that make her in charge of her sexuality—or an unwitting captive to it?

Those questions hit home with Peggy Orenstein, so she went sleuthing. She visited Disneyland and the international toy fair, trolled American Girl Place and Pottery Barn Kids, and met beauty pageant parents with preschoolers tricked out like Vegas showgirls. She dissected the science, created an online avatar, and parsed the original fairy tales. The stakes turn out to be higher than she—or we—ever imagined: nothing less than the health, development, and futures of our girls. From premature sexualization to the risk of depression to rising rates of narcissism, the potential negative impact of this new girlie-girl culture is undeniable—yet armed with awareness and recognition, parents can effectively counterbalance its influence in their daughters' lives.

Cinderella Ate My Daughter is a must-read for anyone who cares about girls, and for parents helping their daughters navigate the rocky road to adulthood.


An Exclusive Note from Peggy Orenstein

As a mom, I admit, I was initially tempted to give the new culture of pink and pretty a pass. There are already so many things to be vigilant about as a parent; my energy was stretched to its limit. So my daughter slept in a Cinderella gown for a few years. Girls will be girls, right?

They will—and that is exactly why we need to pay more, rather than less, attention to what’s happening in their world. According to the American Psychological Association, the emphasis on beauty and play-sexiness at ever-younger ages is increasing girls’ vulnerability to the pitfalls that most concern parents: eating disorders, negative body image, depression, risky sexual behavior. Yet here we are with nearly half of six-year-old girls regularly using lipstick or lip gloss. The percentage of eight- to twelve-year-old girls wearing eyeliner or mascara has doubled in the last TWO years (I ask you: shouldn’t the percentage of eight-year-olds wearing eyeliner be zero?). A researcher told me that when she asks teenage girls how a sexual experience felt to them they respond by telling her how they think they looked. Meanwhile, the marketing of pink, pretty, and “sassy” has become a gigantic business: the Disney Princesses alone are pulling in four BILLION dollars in revenue annually.

As I immersed myself in the research for this book, I began to trace a line from the innocence of Cinderella to the struggles Miley Cyrus has faced in trying to “age up,” which in turn was connected to how regular girls present themselves on Facebook (where identity itself becomes a performance, crafted in response to your audience of 322 BFFs). It seemed that even as new educational and professional opportunities unfurled before my daughter and her peers, so did the path that encouraged them to equate identity with image, self-expression with appearance, femininity with performance, pleasure with pleasing, and sexuality with sexualization.

So much is at stake, for mothers with girls of all ages: How do we define girlhood? What about femininity? Beauty? Sexuality? Our choices will tell our girls how we see them, who we want them to be, our values, expectations, hopes, and dreams. Do we want them to be judged by the content of their character or the color of their lip gloss?

I’m the first to admit that I do not have all the answers. Who could? But as a mother who also happens to be a journalist (or perhaps vice versa), I wanted to lay out the context—the marketing, science, history, culture—in which we make our choices, to provide information and insight that might help parents, educators, and all of us who care about girls guide them toward their true happily-ever-afters.


From Publishers Weekly

Orenstein, who has written about girls for nearly two decades (Schoolgirls), finds today's pink and princess-obsessed girl culture grating when it threatens to lure her own young daughter, Daisy. In her quest to determine whether princess mania is merely a passing phase or a more sinister marketing plot with long-term negative impact, Orenstein travels to Disneyland, American Girl Place, the American International Toy Fair; visits a children's beauty pageant; attends a Miley Cyrus concert; tools around the Internet; and interviews parents, historians, psychologists, marketers, and others. While she uncovers some disturbing news (such as the American Psychological Association's assertion that the "girlie-girl" culture's emphasis on beauty and play-sexiness can increase girls' susceptibility to depression, eating disorders, distorted body image, and risky sexual behavior), she also finds that locking one's daughter away in a tower like a modern-day Rapunzel may not be necessary. Orenstein concludes that parents who think through their values early on and set reasonable limits, encourage dialogue and skepticism, and are canny about the consumer culture can combat the 24/7 "media machine" aimed at girls and hold off the focus on beauty, materialism, and the color pink somewhat. With insight and biting humor, the author explores her own conflicting feelings as a mother as she protects her offspring and probes the roots and tendrils of the girlie-girl movement. (Jan.)
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Product Details


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
237 of 254 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What's next for our girls? December 15, 2010
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
First of all, I'm a new father. Of a girl. Naturally I find myself wondering how on earth I am going to raise a confident, considerate and well adjusted girl in these complicated times. I also noticed that sometimes people's eyebrows would raise as they saw me reading this book in public. Trust me. This book is a worthwhile read for mothers AND fathers.

What this book has proven to be is an alarming expose of the numerous pitfalls our culture has created for girls. Orenstein humorously and cuttingly tackles issues such as the marketing schemes of the "disney princess brand", "pink explosion" of products marketed toward girls, the pattern of teen-icon role-models who go from "wholesome" to "whoresome" as they mature (even the seemingly incorruptible Miley Cyrus succumbed to it as she got older). AKA don't pose for Vanity Fair. The book is well researched and makes a compelling case for all parents to be concerned about the future of their daughters.

Orenstein's agenda is liberally slanted with an anti-consumer agenda, and you can tell because there's some obvious HRC/Palin comparisons in the book, but what would you expect from a lady living in Berekely, California? A Santa Cruz resident, myself, I didn't find these insertions bothersome, but to the politically conservative I advice a grain of salt.

At times the narrative seemed to get overly alarmist, raising red flags about things which I personally wouldn't worry very much. I understand why, but parts of the discussion seemed to over-stress the dangers to our nascent daughters. I just don't buy it. Meanwhile, the book offers a great amount of commentary/critique about these challenges, but provides very little of substance in terms of how to address these issues on the parental end.
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398 of 451 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Half-baked but worth a read December 3, 2010
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Is it just me or are nonfiction books of this type getting shorter and ending in an increasingly abrupt manner? I was startled when I hit the end of this most recent offering from Ms. Orenstein; with a good pinch of pages left I thought I had just reached the end of a chapter, only to see the rest of the bulk consisted merely of acknowledgements, notes, and so forth.

This sudden drop off only adds to my list of frustrations with this interesting, well-intentioned, yet flawed book. As the mother of three young daughters, I was at once intrigued and skeptical when I picked up the book, which claims to tell us poor befuddled mothers what to make of the supposedly new culture of "girlie girl." The author immediately strikes a very bloggy, up-to-the-minute tone, which can be fun to read but also frustratingly limited. It is odd to pick up an actual physical book and see snarky snappiness and reference after reference to things I have seen online, but have never encountered in real life. Is there truly no world outside the internet now?

It also has the downfall so common to these social critique tomes, in that the author employs what I like to call the "me and my playgroup" method of research. Rather than delving into true social scientific research even in a casual way, rather than expanding her explorations into unfamiliar neighborhoods or more solidly limiting the terms of the inquiry to well-heeled coastal progressive communities, the author lazily lopes around the park on the corner and runs back to report what she has seen there. A lot of assumptions fill in the gap. For instance, she says that since the "princess thing" is so big "even" where she lives (liberal Berkeley) it "must" be even worse elsewhere. Well no, not necessarily.
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91 of 108 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and Interesting, Never Preachy January 24, 2011
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Cinderella Ate My Daughter / 978-0-061-71152-7

For people interested in gender politics and how they play out in advertising aimed at young girls in America, this book is an absolute delight to read. Author Orenstein examines everything from Disney Princess merchandise, American Girls dolls, the "Twilight" phenomena, Miley Cyrus (and all the "innocent-but-sexy" singers and actresses that have come before her, and will come after her yet), pageant culture, and Facebook - all through the dual lens of her own experiences as a mother and her own research as a journalist.

"Cinderella Ate My Daughter" is wonderfully written - both informative and interesting. The author has a wonderful sense of when to intersperse daily anecdotes from her own life into the meticulous studies she references and the experts she quotes. This is anything but a "fluff" book - there's so much information compiled here and it's presented in an imminently easy-to-digest format. Looking back on this book, dozens of fascinating facts leap to my mind - such as the evidence that dolls were in low vogue among girls in the late 1800's, until President Roosevelt warned the country against declining Anglo-Saxon birth rates and suddenly the race was on to prepare (certain kinds of) girls to be 'good American mothers'. Then there's the chapter about mixed-gender play and how to understand the difference between boys and girls playing WITH each other and them playing NEAR each other (and how to encourage the latter to blossom into the former). Especially impressive in this book is how the author always tries to give the opposition a fair say, even while making it clear where she falls on the spectrum - everything comes across as highly informative and extremely fair-spoken.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A little bit difficult for me to read because I ...
A little bit difficult for me to read because I don't have the same cultural background (I am not American). But insightful and interesting book.
Published 1 month ago by Hana Mrackova
4.0 out of 5 stars Must read for parents with a young daughter!
It's a great book to insite on the marketing ploys of corporate America these days towards are young daughters... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Sarah Grey
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
i had to read this for our book group. it was ok
Published 3 months ago by Alice H. Johnson
3.0 out of 5 stars Very, very straight
It's a good starting analysis, however, it's very centered around cishet children. Queer children need representation too.
Published 4 months ago by R.Binns
3.0 out of 5 stars It was okay.
I was assigned this book in a college course on Girl Studies. While it is good introductory material, I found the book to be redundant. Read more
Published 4 months ago by CatLady22
4.0 out of 5 stars Nicely written expect for a few nitpicks here and there.
A great book about the new generation of little girls being bombarded by all the overly idealized images of a perfect young girl/woman generated by the massive spawn of doe-eyed... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Banshee
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book for women and mothers
At first I thought I would disagree with everything that Orenstein wrote because I am not anti princess or Barbie. However, once I began reading I couldn't stop. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Melanie
5.0 out of 5 stars informative, entertaining, well written and thorough
I loved this book! I highly recommend it to any parent. She lays out great information and has research and sources to back herself up. Read more
Published 6 months ago by angela
4.0 out of 5 stars Must read for parents of daughters
As a princess hater, having a daughter is definitely a challenge with all the intense marketing to kids. Read more
Published 6 months ago by A. Bauer
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much opinion
I have two daughters who are very into princesses and very girly. I thought this book would be a very interesting read, even if I didn't agree with the author. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Angela Borchert
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More About the Author

Peggy Orenstein is the author of the New York Times bestseller Waiting for Daisy: A Tale of Two Continents, Three Religions, Five Infertility Doctors, an Oscar, an Atomic Bomb, a Romantic Night, and One Woman's Quest to Become a Mother and Schoolgirls: Young Women, Self-Esteem, and the Confidence Gap. A contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine, she has been published in, among others, USA Today; Vogue; Parenting; O, The Oprah Magazine; Salon; and The New Yorker. Orenstein lives in Northern California with her husband and their daughter, Daisy.

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