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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review: Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein

imagePublisher: Harper Paperbacks   
Pages:272 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction  
Buy this Book: Amazonclip_image001_thumb_thumb, Powell's, Indiebound clip_image0013_thumb_thumbclip_image0014_thumb_thumb

Summary from publisher:

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.

Pink and pretty 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 a source--"the" source--of female empowerment. And commercialization has spread the message faster and farther, reaching girls at ever-younger ages.

But, realistically, how many times can you say no when your daughter begs for a pint-size wedding gown or the latest Hannah Montana CD? And how dangerous is pink and pretty anyway--especially given girls' successes in the classroom and on the playing field? Being a princess is just make-believe, after all; eventually they grow out of it. Or do they? Does playing Cinderella shield girls from early sexualization--or prime them for it? Could today's little princess become tomorrow's sexting teen? And what if she does? Would that make her in charge of her sexuality--or an unwitting captive to it?

Those questions hit home with Peggy Orenstein, so she went sleuthing. She visited Disneyland and the international toy fair, trolled American Girl Place and Pottery Barn Kids, and met beauty pageant parents with preschoolers tricked out like Vegas showgirls. She dissected the science, created an online avatar, and parsed the original fairy tales. The stakes turn out to be higher than she--or we--ever imagined: nothing less than the health, development, and futures of our girls. 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.

"Cinderella Ate My Daughter" is a must-read for anyone who cares about girls, and for parents helping their daughters navigate the rocky road to adulthood.

My Review: 

I am delayed with this review not because I flaked or because I forgot but I loved this book so much that I read it twice more after I finished it the first time. Yes, that means I read it three times in succession. Before I go on, I must note that I have no children and have no intention of ever having any so I can only comment from my experience of being a girl, not being a mother, and having this type of brainwashing directed at me.

I guess I should start by saying that I have always been more interested in hockey games and wrestling than I have ever been in Disney movies (aside from Newsies—the best movie ever made) and the only fairy tales I know are the ones I read in my anthology of fairy tales (usually more grim and gruesome than their Disney counterparts). I was never ever seen as a kid playing house with the girls but in the mud or playing some sort of reckless sport with my crazy boy cousins (I used to use the heads of my baby dolls as makeshift hockey pucks in backyard games—fun). I can credit my parents for this. They never bought in to the Barbies are for girls and the G.I. Joes are for boys type of thing. If I asked for a “boy” toy for Christmas, that’s what I got. I have good parents. I was allowed to develop my interests without being bombarded by stereotypes and the this is for boys and this is for girls type of hooey.

Before I read this book I never realized how prevalent this bombardment of the pink, pretty girlie girl was in our culture. It never occurred to me to think of it as anything other than normal. It’s in evidence everyday. When a girl wants a sports jersey, she is immediately directed to the pink girl cut jersey. Heaven forbid, she wants to actually wear the colors of the team she cheers for. It’s almost as if the assumption is she doesn’t know anything about the sport but she is just going to the game to look pretty. Or when a little girl wants to buy Legos, she is immediately directed to the pink (and less fun and creative) version. I did love this book simply because it opened my eyes and made me look at the world differently.   I am actually quite surprised by how much this book spoke to me because I thought myself impervious to it all. I found the language to be engaging and the subject matter enlightening and interesting. This will definitely be a reread for me and I highly recommend this one.


*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review.   My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies   made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the  blog.


  1. I've been reading this one off and on for awhile now. It is a library copy so I've had to send it back unfinished a couple of times. It is definitely an interesting read...especially because I have a little girl who is in to everything pink. It drives me a bit batty :) Great review!

  2. Three times in a row?! This MUST be a fascinating read! As the mom of one son I don't have to deal with the same items but I do have to deal with the influence of the media and the pressure to "buy, buy, buy!" This might be a good read for me as well!

    Thanks for being on the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.



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