May Book Salute: Cinderella Ate My Daughter

1 May

In case you missed it, April 22nd marked the beginning of the first annual National Princess Week. Inviting children across the country to “celebrate the sparkle and wonder of every princess,” the long and the short of it is that Disney and Target partnered up (with Julie Andrews as a spokesperson) to get folks to buy a bunch of stuff for girls. Regardless of how you feel about the princess craze (and I pass no judgment here), I think we can all pretty much agree that these beloved characters are hardly lacking the attention and admiration that would warrant a week dedicated to their appreciation. But alas, as the Oncler once said to the Lorax, “business is business and business must grow!”

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So in the wake of Princess Week, it seems fitting to devote this month’s book salute to Peggy Orenstein’s Cinderella Ate My Daughter. I love this book, not only because she dedicates a good chunk of Chapter 4 to the work we’ve been doing on The Sanford Harmony Program and the importance of mixed-gender play, but because it also happens to be a really good read. Well researched, and with a good dose of humor, Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture, explores the explosion of the “princess culture” that has occurred in recent years and its implications on raising healthy daughters (and sons).

The history regarding the origins of the Disney Princesses and the escalation of princess-themed merchandise and publicity make for intriguing reading, yet the focus of this book isn’t solely on Disney. Orenstein also takes a close look at American Girls, child beauty pageants, young singer/actress-role-models-turn-cautionary-tales (such as Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus), social networking and more. As Orenstein examines these cultural phenomenons from various angles, she strikes a careful balance of reserving judgment while still expressing her concern for young girls’ self-esteem and the sexualization of children.

Incredibly thought-provoking and informative, this book really gets to the heart of how complex gender based cultural messages can be and how complicated it is to find solutions to raising healthy, happy kids.

Have you read Cinderella Ate My Daughter? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


4 Responses to “May Book Salute: Cinderella Ate My Daughter”

  1. morecompassion May 2, 2012 at 8:49 am #

    When i have a kid, I will definitely read this book. My question is about the tone. I have a friend who is pregant with a daughter. She’s pretty open minded but still already gearing up for the frilly onslaught. I thought about getting her this book (she’s a big reader anyways) but wasn’t sure how that would come across. Any thoughts?

    • Hillary Manaster May 2, 2012 at 9:54 am #

      I personally really enjoyed the tone and style of this book. I thought the author did a really nice job of presenting multiple viewpoints on some of the hot topics (i.e. child pageants). While Orenstein’s viewpoints were clear throughout, I didn’t feel as if she was passing judgment on other parents who may see things differently. It was a very thought-provoking social/cultural commentary and a truly informative read filled with a lot of interesting pieces of research and history. I definitely recommend it to anyone interested in engaging in a dialogue on how to raise healthy, confident, strong and happy daughters (or sons) in our current cultural climate and super media saturated world. Hope that helps 🙂

      Sent from my iPhone

      • rebeccakuder May 2, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

        I agree that the tone of the book is fairly balanced, though it’s clear that Orenstein has strong feelings about the issues (as I think she should). One thing I thought was really great was how well-researched the book seems to be.

        That said, I am a warrior in the fight against commercialism and anti-strong-girl-woman vibe of DISNEY PRINCESS, so I am not unbiased to judge Orenstein’s book. I do have friends who are more open to PRINCESS but luckily for me, they seem to understand my feelings and respect them, so the children all get along well. I blogged about the book here:

      • Hillary Manaster May 2, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

        I enjoyed how well researched this book was too. It had a great flow to it as well. Thanks for sharing your post – I really enjoyed it! 🙂

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