Thursday, November 11, 2010

book nook: Cinderella Ate My Daughter

I confess...I was never a girlie-girl. Nor am I mother or a sociologist. So I may be a bit outside the primary demographic for Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches From the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture. But I am fascinated by the development of identity, especially in girls and women, so I was excited by the chance to read this book by Peggy Orenstein. To cover formalities: I was provided an advance copy of the book by the lovely folks at Harper (but they do NOT control what I say about it)...expect three other reviews in the near future (one very near since I'm 3/4 through another book).

Moving on...Orenstein has previously explored gender issues but watching her own daughter led her to focus on girlhood beginning at a younger age. It was fascinating to learn that the concept of "pink is for girls" is relatively new and that the idea of Disney Princesses as a stand-alone concept (apart from the movies themselves) is only a decade old. On a side note: the Princess concept is marketing-driven and apparently the "purists" at Disney objected and, as a result, the materials with all the gals have them all looking away from each other. Orenstein explores the pluses and minuses of princess-play and the mini-pop-star phase that follows on its heels (think Miley Cyrus and Hillary Duff) as well as children's pageants and the role of the internet-world on girlhood.

The book is intelligent and informative. Orenstein clearly has her views but she does attempt to solicit input from opposing camps. She makes clear that she isn't some paragon of perfection as she presents vignettes from dilemmas encountered in her own role as mother to a young girl. I'd give the book 4 (of 5) stars. I think it would be of particular interest to new moms (and maybe not just moms of girls, although that's the focus) but it needn't be limited to that audience. Anyone interested in the development of identity and the impact of our culture on girls (and thus on women...both of today and of tomorrow). It was a very fast read (my copy was ~180pp) but gives a lot to think about.


Irish Goober said...

I knew the "Princesses" were a new phenomenon, but didn't know that about Disney. I'm going to have to look more closely next time I'm at Toys R Us. I think I'll pick this up at the library. Thanks!

Righteous Runner said...

This sounds like a really interesting book and something my Communication Studies professor would love. Your review is excellent.