Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Book Look: Cinderella Ate My Daughter
Peggy Orenstein is not a hater. She simply ventured into trying to find out what was up with the sudden onset of fairy wings, all things PINK, and the idea that a little girl must not only BE a princess, but stay a princess. The result is Cinderella Ate My Daughter. What she found out is astounding in terms of the commercialization of childhood. I had read once that a girl will make a baby of a piece of wood or a stuffed husk, that mothering is a natural feminine instinct. The first American baby dolls were pushed when it seemed the birthrate was declining. What better way to remind women that their natural job is to be a mother than to train her as a child to care for a doll. Along came Shirley Temple. Along came Snow White, and all the other Disney princesses, which are now a $400 billion dollar industry. Orenstein argues that the "girlie girl" culture is seen by moms as "safe" and "fun," when in reality it tends to stereotype female "beauty" characteristics and sexualize the pre-teen. Girls like to play dress up. They dress up as ballerinas, fairies, and princesses. When I was a child, we dressed up in our moms' old formal dresses, high heels, and the luckiest of us received Annie Oakley outfits! It is the stagnation in the phase of princess that concerns Orenstein (and me) to a great extent. Whether you live in a Barbie-free house or are inundated with PINK and GLITTER, it is an interesting dissertation to read. Girls can be smart, kind, and also pretty. Their whole world should not be one big fairy tale.