Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Cinderella Ate My Daughter
I came across an excerpt from the soon released book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture.The author, Peggy Orenstein, discusses how she vowed not gender roles on her young toddler daughter, Daisy. Daisy played with trains in preschool but then as she got older and more socialized with other children princess and pink abounded. Below are some paragraphs I found rather interesting .
But honestly: since when did every little girl become a princess? It wasn’t like this when I was a kid, and I was born back when feminism was still a mere twinkle in our mothers’ eyes. We did not dress head to toe in pink. We did not have our own miniature high heels. What’s more, I live in Berkeley, California: if princesses had infiltrated our little retro-hippie hamlet, imagine what was going on in places where women actually shaved their legs? As my little girl made her daily beeline for the dress-up corner of her preschool classroom, I fretted over what playing Little Mermaid, a character who actually gives up her voice to get a man, was teaching her.
On the other hand, I thought, maybe I should see princess mania as a sign of progress, an indication that girls could celebrate their predilection for pink without compromising strength or ambition; that at long last they could “have it all”: be feminist and feminine, pretty and powerful; earn independence and male approval. Then again, maybe I should just lighten up and not read so much into it — to mangle Freud, maybe sometimes a princess is just a princess.
It was confusing: images of girls’ successes abounded — they were flooding the playing field, excelling in school, outnumbering boys in college. At the same time, the push to make their appearance the epicenter of their identities did not seem to have abated one whit. If anything, it had intensified, extending younger (and, as the unnaturally smooth brows of midlife women attest, stretching far later). I had read stacks of books devoted to girls’ adolescence, but where was I to turn to understand the new culture of little girls, from toddler to “tween,” to help decipher the potential impact — if any — of the images and ideas they were absorbing about who they should be, what they should buy, what made them girls? Did playing Cinderella shield them from early sexualization or prime them for it? Was walking around town dressed as Jasmine harmless fun, or did it instill an unhealthy fixation on appearance? Was there a direct line from Prince Charming to “Twilight” ’s Edward Cullen to distorted expectations of intimate relationships?
It is tempting, as a parent, to give the new pink-and-pretty a pass. There is already so much to be vigilant about, and the limits of our tolerance, along with our energy, slip a little with each child we have. So if a spa birthday party would make your six-year-old happy (and get her to leave you alone), really, what is the big deal? After all, girls will be girls, right? I agree, they will — and that is exactly why we need to pay more, rather than less, attention to what is happening in their world.
I found this excerpt rather fascinating for many reasons.
First of all I was a tomboy growing up, still am. I played sports and baled hay with the guys when I was a teenager but I wore makeup and did my hair. I never have liked the color pink and don't remember ever playing princesses but now I do like to wear dresses when the wind isn't blowing! I had a Barbie doll growing up but was jealous of my sister's Barbie because her doll took rides in the back of her toy semi. As for my appearance, I sometimes go out in public without makeup but I make sure I've changed out of my pajamas and look presentable. Even though I don't consider myself a 'girlie girl', not really in the 'feminist' movement, but I do think of myself as fairly feminine .
Before reading this excerpt I never realized there was any sort "princess culture" out there. I live in a small town remember? We don't get out much.
The way Orenstein presents it, feminism brought about a choice for girls. They could be tomboys or beauty queens, stay at home or working mommies, or not mommies at all. But the 'girls will be girls' philosophy has pushed the idea that every girl has to be a princess into all realms of a young girl's life and they are growing up losing a choice the feminist movement provided.
Tell me parents. Is there a princess culture aimed at young girls? Those of you with daughters, do you see it as detrimental or a harmless phase they go through? Do you feel your daughters are bombarded with pink and left without a choice whether they should embody that role of princess? I have a almost 2 year old...what do I need to know?