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Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture Paperback – January 31, 2012
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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.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is the most dumbest **** I have ever read. She's the meaning of a contradiction and doesn't know how to parent her child obviously. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Lahney
First of all, this book is a quick, fun read and definitely worth reading regardless of its flaws. That said, there are many things keeping "Cinderella Ate My Daughter"... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Andrew
Every mother and daughter and woman should read this. Heck, everyone should read it because it's so enlightening.Published 6 months ago by Sam
I ordered this book for psych of women college course. The book is so entertaining and insightful! Good read!Published 7 months ago by Alexis
You're whining because your daughter wears pink, I wear pink, its my favorite color, and I am a card carrying feminist.
This is just made up angst. Read more
One of the best books on parenting I ever read. Every parent should become aware on how we are educating our daughters today.Published 9 months ago by Carla
Great book. All moms need to read it and think about it's implications for their daughters. I wish there were more books like this.Published 9 months ago by Mrs P @ In Our Pond