My mom adventures in Fort Collins

Library Book Hoarder: Cinderella Ate My Daughter
March 11, 2012, 11:55 pm
Filed under: Library book hoarder | Tags: ,

As the title would imply, we’ve got ourselves a non-fiction account of how fiction is taking over our girls’ girlhoods. Marketing Disney princesses, the “pink-i-fying” of everything from legos to NFL jerseys, mani-pedis for the pre-school set, spray tans and veneers for toddler beauty pagents, and on and on.

From google

Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the new Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein is a New York Times bestseller. I have not read any of the author’s previous work, but I want to now that I’ve read this. In this book she’s very honest. You get the impression that though she’s got degrees, tons of research and experience to back her up, she is just the mom of a little girl who is trying to figure out how to be intentional in her parenting choices, and trying to teach her daughter how to find a balance between femininity and feminism.

I was impressed with the pure breadth of the subject matter. From Disney princesses to Barbie and Bratz dolls, American Girls to Riot Grrls, from internet and social networking to tween-queen Hannah Montana (or, at least she used to be our tween queen. Poor Miley…), from Wonder Woman to Twilight, I felt like the author really knew her stuff.

In addition to being honest and comprehensive, the author is also fair in this book. In one chapter, she takes a look at the Toddlers & Tiaras crowd, and comes down firmly on the side of “I don’t know.” As she points out, it’s easy to say you would never tart up your pre-schooler and teach her how to sparkle for the judges. But these families are so much more than that. But as we all know, it’s a slippery slope. For her own family, the author decides she disapproves of Bratz dolls but will give in to Polly Pocket dolls. I love that she is just as conflicted about this current trend toward girlie-girlification as the rest of us. Her anecdote about buying her daughter, Daisy, a Barbie doll in the Target (after repeatedly saying no) is an absolute testament to the kind of writer that she is. Tell it like it is, Ms. Orenstein. Preach it. I’m as confused as you are and I’ve never taken a women’s studies class in my life.

I learned a lot from this book. For one, gender differences are normal, natural, and inevitable. She talks about a study in which even female monkeys prefer to play with dolls and kitchenware. To deny your daughter the right to feminize her playthings is silly. However, I also learned (or rather, felt vindicated) with the fact that it’s completely appropriate to question the commodification of darn near everything. Interestingly, she makes the point that people like Selena Gomez (and before her Miley Cyrus, and before that Britney Spears, and on and on) are selling people on their virginity. The whole “I’m-just-a-girl-and-if-people-want-to-make-me-into-something-far-less-innocent-and-far-more-objectifiable-then-that’s-their-problem” schtick gets old, does it not? And then, when they willingly try to take things to the next level (as an aging teen celeb is apt to do), it’s met with a quandary: “WAAAAITTT a second! My daughter really loves you! How do I tell her that now it’s okay for you to have sex?” No wonder none of these tween-queens have transitioned very well. Good luck, Selena!

I left the book wanting more. There is so much to learn as a parent. Technology is my biggest fear. As the author points out, we’re well attuned to predators who go trolling for the naïve schoolgirl. What we’re not necessarily looking for is the cyber bullying that goes on amongst girls. (And yes, it’s mainly girls who use the social networking sites, and mainly boys who are the “gamers.”) The author was just scratching the surface on social networking. Maybe she’s working on the follow up?

Verdict: Thought provoking read that was both well-written and engaging (I’d say it was “fun,” but I don’t know how girlie-girl I’d sound if I called it that.) I love the author’s sharp wit.


5 Comments so far
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I have recommended this book to my friends with and parents of my female students. It is such a good book! I have two boys – so I wish I could find a boy one as wise as this one.

Comment by jeandayfriday

It IS a good book, probably good for all parents, too. But, yeah, I don’t know any “boy” books. Thanks for commenting!

Comment by jaymers

I did a post about this book too, and I agree, it was very thought provoking. I always recommend it with some reluctance because it really stuck with me in good and bad ways for a long time after I returned it to the library.

Comment by RFL

Oh, I’ll have to go back and look at your post! Thanks for commenting.

Comment by jaymers

[…] (And no, I definitely didn’t coin that phrase. Check out a previous post of mine here.) For me, though, there is a certain playfulness that I do not want to diminish. Afterall, it is […]

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