Friday, November 04, 2011

Book Review: Cinderella Ate My Daughter


If ever a book was to embody what I try and profess everyday, it would be this book. Oh yes, it would.

In this hilarious yet en pointe opinion piece, Orenstein highlights what she sees as current issues facing girls, especially related to girl-targeted products and marketing. Mind you, she does not insinuate that princesses, liking pink, or wanting to be girly are bad or harmful. Rather, she argues that the way that these are often presented by marketers, and then adapted by parents and kids themselves can be harmful to body image and self-awareness. In fact, it's not just princesses; she also analyzes pop culture icons {like Miley Cyrus}, Facebook, American Girl dolls, and the pageant culture.

Most salient with me are the points she makes regarding gender roles and sexualization of young girls. Disney {who I still love, let's just get this straight} is notorious for this. Not in any sort of obvious or malicious way, but one only has to look at performers like Britney Spears to notice the cycle. Young girl is "made" by Disney, projects innocent yet sexy {and unaware of sexiness} image, pledges to virginity until marriage and then poses nude for a magazine {sometimes at the age of 15!}. This, of course sets Disney into a flurry of panic, whereby they quietly bring forth their new wholesome pop star who has been waiting in the wings. Orenstein argues that this commodifies sexuality in a few ways. One, the obvious expectation of unaware sultriness, and two they value perceived virginity and purity over all else. Girls are taught that their purity matters more than anything else. You can be successful, a pop star, a singer, but not a virgin? Or don't act like one? Tough luck, you're done.

But, over and above how much I agree with most of her points {surprised?}, I love how Orenstein discusses her own struggle with this. She has a daughter and struggles with the same questions all mothers, and those of us who work with youth struggle with. What's so wrong with being girly? Surely, pink isn't going to teach young girls to be airheads? Why can't we indulge them in princess stuff? None of these are terrible questions and are important to ask. I myself was permanently attached to a "Cinderella" dress as a toddler {or, until I was 7} and I'm extremely outspoken about gender and body image. It's important that authors who make these points are clear: it's not the glitter, or the Disney, or the pink, or anything. It's the package. It's the complete message, and the whole message isn't coming from you. It comes from school, the internet, friends, TV, and books {hello Twlight!}. I love that she articulates this, and is not just another pink-hating author.

This is a wonderful read for anyone who is interested in gender, and girl-targeted marketing. Its easy to read. I finished this in less than 24 hours. Part of that was because I didn't want to put it down, and the other part was that it's written for a general audience and is easy to digest. Even if you don't agree with all of the points Orenstein makes {and I didn't}, she presents a compelling argument and balances that with real-world experience and limitations. You won't be disappointed.


  1. These are all topics that I've never consider but I might ought to! Thanks for linking up!

  2. interesting! what a read :)

    happy weekend!

  3. Anonymous12:55 PM

    I rarely stray from fiction, but this just may make me! It sounds interesting...thanks!

  4. i really loved this book!
    and i love the 3 folks above might read this book because of your review!
    blake is reading it right now and hes really enjoying it too!

  5. oh my gosh, this looks like a good book. now I have to read it. I've done some book reviews on my blog too.. check em out.

  6. Anonymous9:55 AM

    Just stopping by to say Hello! and we love your blog! :) We would love to do a link swap!