Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein

I picked up this book because I have a daughter.  My son also goes to school with daughters - some of whom are totally going through the princess phase. Some women think it's "just a phase" by Orenstein wholeheartedly disagrees and this book is her argument as to why it isn't just a phase and why it can hurt more than help. Orenstein does this by looking at things like the little girl beauty pagents to sexting and other online communiques by girls.  She also looks at the Disney Princesses and fairy tales and what that means to our daughters as well.

I think that this is an important book, albeit a flawed and limited one. it would work wonders, perhaps, for the white mother of privilege that has a white daughter at home but it wouldn't translate well to multiracial or children of color or to people that aren't so well off. Aside from a very brief discussion of Disney's recent The Princess and the Frog, there isn't any other discussion about race and gender and how they intersect (and we all know that they do - just think about how Asian or Black women may be more eroticized because they are seen as "exotic" or how the push to be more "white" impacts them). I also don't like how Orenstein tried to hide the Disney stuff from her daughter (who I think is Asian - she's adopted - which is interesting considering how limited the discussion about race and gender are).  I mean, why not just take it head on with your child? The one thing that I have learned from being a parent is that children are smarter than we give them credit for and they don't live in a void. They are constantly watching everything and everyone around them and it's the very rare instance where a toddler, pre-schooler or kindergartner, let a lone an elementary scool kid misses something. This stuff is ripe fodder for discussion!  Take the bull by the horns and deal with it!

An important book but take it with a grain of salt - I was so much more hopeful and was disappointed in the results.

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