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Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers' Schemes Hardcover – August 8, 2006

3.5 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. That girls are overwhelmed by images of princesses, demure femininity and pink, pink, pink is no surprise. What is shocking, as Lamb (The Secret Lives of Girls) and Brown (Meeting at the Crossroads) so astutely demonstrate, is the downright bombardment girls receive, coming from all forms of media. Lamb and Brown, both psychologists, came to harsh conclusions after they surveyed girls; sat through hours of Rugrats and Kim Possible television programming; scoured stores such as Hot Topic and Claire's; watched Hilary Duff movies; listened to Eminem and Beyoncé; visited MySpace.com; and read Caldecott books. The idea of "girl power was snapped up by the media," and "what it sells is an image of being empowered," argue the authors. Girls are offered two choices by the marketers: they are "either for the boys or one of the boys." Even rebellion is being packaged, "the resistance, that edginess and irreverence that once gave girls a pathway out of the magic kingdom." The book is incredibly readable and rises above others in the genre by giving parents concrete tools to help battle stereotypes. Lamb and Brown include lists of books and movies with positive role models and talking points to help your daughter recognize how she is being manipulated. The authors aren't trying to deny anyone princesses or pink; they just want girls to be knowledgeable enough to choose what will truly interest them. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Lamb and Brown have created high-profile careers studying and writing about adolescent girls, but in this candid overview of how culture influences girls, they say that they are writing "not as academics but as women, moms, and teachers living in a world of . . . preteen lingerie." In the following chapters, Lamb and Brown argue that American marketing patterns channel girls' desires into too-predictable and identity-damaging types, drawing examples from the clothing, TV and movies, popular music, books, and trendy activities marketed to teens. And they offer practical suggestions for discussing the issues with both middle-schoolers and older YAs. As in most overviews, some sections, such as the suggested readings for girls, may feel incomplete (particularly to librarians). Still, this is a welcome, provocative, thoroughly persuasive volume that will enlighten all readers concerned with the business of marketing and the health of teens. An excellent companion to Deborah Tolman's Dilemmas of Desire (2002), Ariel Levy's Female Chauvinist Pigs (2005), and the titles listed in the Read-alikes column "Girl Talk," in Booklist's July 2002 issue. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (August 8, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312352506
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312352509
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,403,024 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I am in the midst of studying pop culture for girls and reading a slew of books about girls, as my daughter will be heading to middle school in a year and I want to understand what her world is really like. As I've been raising her, I've also been a girl scout leader, school volunteer, children's religion teacher, etc. Over my daughter's first ten years of girlhood, I have been exasperated and angry at the endless images by media and pop culture and marketers that constantly tell girls that they are only acceptable, respectable, interesting, valued and admired if they are thin, they buy every slutty fashion trend, and they are able to attract the sexual desire of boys and men. I think girls are made into sex objects in our culture now more than ever.

The authors of this book jumped around a lot, contradicted themselves frequently, and made many factual errors in their presentation. I think it could have been a great book, but it fell short for these reasons. The book had enough errors to make me skeptical when I read information about books and pop culture and products with which I was not previously familiar.

For example, they slam American Girl. This company makes dolls and book characters that have real girl bodies, are not sexualized, overcome challenges, think for themselves, learn, grow, and are believable as strong, complex, smart, capable individuals. Yet the authors of this book whine about the fact that the company is also selling dolls and books to girls. Hello? Of course they sell stuff - that's why they are profitable. Have they read an American Girl series or two? Well I have read them all with my daughter over the past several years and my only disappointment has been that I did not have these books when I was a girl.
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Format: Hardcover
This is not just one of the best books on gender I've read, it's one of the best books PERIOD. Well-researched, well-considered, astounding statistics, sharp uncompromising analysis, current references, great suggestions...

The intro and first chapter alone (Pretty in Pink: What Girls Wear) were worth the price of the book. I recently had someone compliment me on my kids' "matching" pink winter boots. I told her it wasn't planned - I could only find boots for mini-lumberjacks or little ladies. (They have both styles, by the way, but they sure get more comments when they're all pinked out.) About half their wardrobes as babies were pink (gifts). Isn't that excessive? If half their clothes were black, people would notice and comment, but it's just business as usual with all that sweet pink stuff.

I was surprised to read the negative review. That reader interpreted things very differently than I did. Maybe something hit too close to home, but you know what they say about the unexamined life. I had a few uncomfortable twinges myself, and finished the book wishing that my parents and other adults had been more interested - or better equipped - in helping me navigate adolescence.

I recommend the book to 1) parents of girls, 2) parents of boys who want to understand their sons' peers, 3) teachers and coaches and 4) any woman looking for insight into her upbringing.
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Format: Paperback
This book needs to be taken with a larger than average dose of salt. The authors have fallen into that trap of making their case too strongly- instead of just letting the examples of lousy stereotypes of girls in the media speak for themselves, they heap on extra. Suddenly every single book, movie, TV show, song, and toy is dripping with gender stereotypes. They can't praise a single one without finding some flaw- everything has a "but." Mia Hamm's book, which teaches kids (and even girls) lessons in sportsmanship gets a parenthetical criticism for emphasizing soccer as if it were the only sport its okay for girls to play. (Hello! It's a book by MIA HAMM, the famous SOCCER player.) Even the American Girl dolls are described as "troublesome."

Other examples are presented in a very misleading way. For example: the Fearless series is about a character named Gaia who was "born without the fear gene" and is highly trained in basically every type of martial arts there is. She's tall and blonde and a skilled fighter- so as a hobby, she hangs out in seedy areas of New York City at night to lure thugs into attacking the apparently helpless female victim so she can turn around and beat the living daylights out of them. Talk about girl power. Despite the fact that this is basically the PREMISE of the series, the authors don't tell you about it- because it doesn't agree with their hypothesis that EVERYTHING in the media is out to get women. Instead, Gaia is mentioned because she doesn't like math- clearly the whole series is another example of harmful anti-female stereotypes!

I am personally a pretty adamant feminist and even I found myself rolling my eyes at a lot of the authors' claims.
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Format: Hardcover
Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers' Schemes should be required reading for all parents. I would go even further--it should be required reading for everyone, because the girls who are being bombarded by the media have brothers, uncles and aunts, cousins, grandparents and friends who probably are buying into the marketing schemes--and should also be educated.

Girls are targeted with $12 billion annually in order to encourage them to buy certain clothes, make-up, books, movies and magazines. As a result, they are encouraged to grow up too fast, embrace what's 'in,' focus on the external (which includes their appearance) and compete (negatively) with other girls.

The authors cover vast territory in educating us about the media's focus on girls: what girls wear, what girls watch on television and in movies, what girls listen to, what girls read and what girls do (play).

The authors go one step farther in their effort to educate and that is what makes this book special. They give suggestions that parents or adult care givers can use to engage a child in talking and thinking about the stereotypes they are bombarded with daily.

You'll never watch a movie, read a book, listen to music or shop again without thinking about how the marketplace impacts that special girl in your life.

Armchair Interviews says: Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers' Schemes is an eye-opener.
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