Just like a moth to the streetlight, the cover of the book I was reading caught my daughter’s attention, and she was immediately lured in. The overwhelming pinkness, the wand in the little girl’s hand, and the actual glitter shimmering away on the cover instigated a high-pitched squeal of “Awwww! Your book is SOOOOO pretty!”
Oh, the irony.
In case you haven’t heard, Peggy Orenstein’s book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter is the new “it” parenting book, sparking stories and conversations from NPR to my local playground. Orenstein delves into the myriad of factors that have helped to create the current “girlie-girl culture” in which we parents find ourselves raising our daughters. Media and marketing moves that influence what our children are exposed to are explored, and Orenstein not only acts as a journalist who helps to unveil the facts, but also as a mother who is trying to find an comfortable (or least uncomfortable) path to navigate through this culture with her own daughter.
As I read this book- I should say devoured– I found that I couldn’t put my highlighter and pencil down, because my mind was exploding with reactions that needed to be recorded. (As a result, my copy has an entire volume of my own words in the margins. A bonus I figure, for anyone to whom I loan it.) In addition to being thought-provoking, Orenstein’s writing is professional but personal, factual yet comfortable to read. By the end of the book I felt like she was someone I’d love to chat with in the elementary school parking lot at pickup time. Orenstein doesn’t present herself as a having all the answers, but she does a fabulous job posing the questions that are worthy of our own individual considerations.
Of all the specific passages from the book that make incredible “sound bites” worth noting, this one is undoubtedly my favorite:
It would be disingenuous to claim that Disney Princess diapers or Ty Girlz or Hannah Montana or Twilight or the latest Shakira video or a Facebook account is inherently harmful. Each is, however, a cog in the round-the-clock, all-pervasive media machine aimed at our daughters– and at us– from womb to tomb; one that, again and again, presents femininity as performance, sexuality as performance, identity as performance, and each of those traits as available for a price. It tells girls that how you look is more important than how you feel. More than that, it tells them that how you look is how you feel, as well as who you are. Meanwhile, the notion that we parents are sold, that our children are “growing up faster” than previous generations, that they are more mature and sophisticated in their tastes, more savvy in their consumption, and that there is nothing we can (or need) do about it is– what is the technical term again?– oh yes: a load of crap.
Seriously, how can you resist someone who penned that brilliance?
Cinderella Ate My Daughter is a must read book for any parent of a daughter, and is the latest entry on our 5 Star Reads list. Orenstein articulately voices the universal hopes parents have for their little girls, and she presents the wide variety of factors that challenge our girls’ healthy development. Regardless of whether or not you already have a solid pro or con position on the “princessy world” our girls are growing up in, this is a book worth reading.
Dawn’s own four year old daughter is probably wearing all pink at this very moment, inspiring her very non-girlie-girl mother to shake her head in wonder. Parenting, books and lots of other randomness make up her blog, my thoughts exactly.