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Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture Paperback – January 31, 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 191 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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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From the Back Cover

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.

Sweet and sassy 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 the source of female empowerment. And commercialization has spread the message faster and farther, reaching girls at ever-younger ages. But how dangerous is pink and pretty, anyway? Being a princess is just make-believe; eventually they grow out of it . . . or do they?

In search of answers, Peggy Orenstein visited Disneyland, trolled American Girl Place, and met parents of beauty-pageant preschoolers tricked out like Vegas showgirls. The stakes turn out to be higher than she ever imagined. 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.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Reprint edition (January 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061711535
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061711534
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (191 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bradley Olin VINE VOICE on December 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover 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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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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Format: Hardcover 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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