Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cinderella Ate My Daughter.

No worries people, put the phone down- there is no need to call CPS. Olivia is just fine, as it Jackson and are two mentally handicapped cats. Matt... well he is currently huffing in dry wall dust I think so the jury is still out on that. It's time for a book review.

Cinderella Ate My Daughter- Peggy Orenstein

The acclaimed author of the groundbreaking bestseller Schoolgirls reveals the dark side of pink and pretty: the rise of the girlie-girl, she warns, is not that innocent.

Sweet and sassy or predatory and hardened, sexualized girlhood influences our daughters from infancy onward, telling them that how a girl looks matters more than who she is. Somewhere between the exhilarating rise of Girl Power in the 1990s and today, the pursuit of physical perfection has been recast as the source of female empowerment. And commercialization has spread the message faster and farther, reaching girls at ever-younger ages. But how dangerous is pink and pretty, anyway? Being a princess is just make-believe; eventually they grow out of it . . . or do they?

In search of answers, Peggy Orenstein visited Disneyland, trolled American Girl Place, and met parents of beauty-pageant preschoolers tricked out like Vegas showgirls. The stakes turn out to be higher than she ever imagined. From premature sexualization to the risk of depression to rising rates of narcissism, the potential negative impact of this new girlie-girl culture is undeniable—yet armed with awareness and recognition, parents can effectively counterbalance its influence in their daughters’ lives.

I have to be 100% percent honest as I start this review- I am not a granola mom. In fact, I am probably the exact opposite of what I consider to be a granola mom. I'm not a helicopter mom, I believe girls can be rough and tumble and boys can be.. less boy. I don't really care what my kids play with as long as it isn't the dreaded Bratz or Monster High dolls because honestly? Have some class. I let my kids dictate what they play through their own interests and I don't really push anything onto them. I'm not freaking out over Red Dye #40 or *gasp* high fructose corn syrup.

The horrors.

I wanted to read this book first off to maybe gain a bit of insight into the mind of a young girl in the current society. I guess I just assumed it was so much different than when I was growing up (I'm only turning 30 in March, so I'm not that old) because everyone laments on and on about how society is different and jesus- look at all of these sexed up and pregnant teenage girls cursing up a storm. Obviously, I don't want any of these things for my own daughter and I have enough brains to know I have to nip it early to prevent that.

So I read the book.

And wanted to throw it against the wall. I am pretty sure Matt feared for his personal safety on more than one occassion (as I usually read while he sleeps because his snoring is out of control). I think the thing that sent me over the edge was beating the dead Disney horse to death. If I have to hear one more time how absolutely horrible the Disney Princesses, (or in fact- any character) are... I may scream. Raise your hand if you at ANY point in your life wanted to be a princess.

OK- that's pretty much everyone.

Now raise your hand if by wanting to play dress up and pretend you were going to a royal ball you feel you have gained an unhealthy expectation that a man should be taking care of you for life because your vagina prevents you from doing so.

Um, anyone?

That's because that is stupid. I don't consider myself a feminist because like it was mentioned in the book- I believe feminists really missed the mark with the whole movement because part of being a woman means you have a certain level of feminity. We can't ignore that to compete with men and still claim to be true to ourselves. That pretty much goes against the grain of the "we are equal" mentality.

But nonetheless.

I let my daughter and hell, even my son, play dress up and princess all of the time. We own pretty much every Disney Princess figure and movie and by golly- I love it. If I didn't think I'd get laughed at outright at my wedding I absolutely would have played "Some Day My Prince Will Come". Just shut your mouth right now, punks. There is nothing wrong with that. I think every girl should want to feel like her partner treats her like a princess... but values her at the same time as someone worthy of respect.

Enter pageants. Oh, don't get me started. I don't care what anyone says about the positives or purpose of a pageant dressing your toddler daughter as a hooker, they are totally wrong and you are giving pedophiles material on a platter. There is something inherently wrong with a parent who thinks it's OK to dress a girl up, put that much makeup on her, put those horrifying fake teeth in, spray tan and hair spray her to death and then tell her that her inner beauty is what is most important.

Right. She's getting that message loud and clear, isn't she?

I personally felt like the book was not to my liking. I disagreed with a lot of things said in the book and I'm so over hearing people say we should let girls do the same things as boys.. but they bring out girl Legos and everyone screams that how DARE they make them pink! If pink Legos made my daughter pick them up and use her brain and analytical skills to build something, then gosh darnit, I'm getting her the pink Legos. At the same time, if my daughter hated Barbies and would rather play with Transformers, whatever. I'll get her the Transformers if it helps her with imaginitive play.

It's our jobs as parents to use some common sense and guide our children as best as we can. Do I think it's reckless parenting to get your daughter a Bratz doll? You bet. Why have the conversation about how it's OK for the doll to dress like a slut but your daughter can't if you don't have to? Olivia asked me once why she can't have those dolls and I flat out tell her because they aren't dressed like classy ladies and that's what you want to be. On the other hand, is it realistic to get her a Barbie who is oddly proportioned? Probably not- but at least Barbie has a wide variety of careers. And honestly? If you are leaving the self image lesson to be taught through her play with a doll versus discussions with you, haven't you kind of failed as a parent anyways?

So overall... I'm on the fence. I appreciate all of the work she put into this book because I'll tell you what- the American Girl Place scares the crap out of me and I probably couldn't handle dealing with pageant moms. I think it also made me evaluate the things that influence my daughter and makes me more mindful to discuss things I perhaps wouldn't have before.

I'd be interested for you to read the book and let's open up a dialogue. How ARE other moms parenting their daughters and how are you really making sure she feels valued and respected not from just you and those around her, but having those things for herself?

As always, check out what other bloggers are saying about the book HERE. Peggy also has a website, Facebook, and Twitter.


Life Love & High Heels said...

I was expecting adorable pics of Olivia wearing princess stuff and you FOOLED me with a book review? Ughhh.... ;)

Ruth said...

I don't consider myself a granola mom, but I also don't keep many processed foods in my house.
Kiddo had a ton of Bratz. I don't actually remember buying her any. They all came from her grandparents.
I don't think any toy or tv show/movie has an effect on self-esteem. Kids know they aren't real.
Pageant kids are another thing. That is just messed up.

trish said...

You are so right that it's our job as parents to use common sense when raising our kids! Too bad common sense isn't MY common sense. :)

Thanks for being on the tour.

Unknown said...

I actually heard her interview on NPR and have been thinking about it since.
I will be a granola mom. I ate too much peanut butter and fluff sandwiches and koolaid while I was a welfare kid to ever feed that crap to my kids. Doesn't mean I don't like it, just that I'm a fatty and I will do everything in my damn power to save my kids from what I've gone through. I want my kids to learn healthy habits first, and the crappy ones later. I think it's easier to go back to what you learned as a kid than it is to learn from scratch as an adult.
Anyways! I hate that everything for girls is pink and that Disney has taken over everything. I had friends who seriously said that they allowed their son to watch 'cars' over and over again (I know it's pixar) so that they would know what to get him for Christmas. Wtf! I have so many issues with this, I don't know where to start. I'm not anti TV, but I am anti using the TV as a babysitter and letting your child watch things over and over and over and over again. Didn't they see the hulu = alien ad?!
I agree with the idea that feminism doesn't mean losing one's femininity. I means that you know you're a woman and that you know that you are capable of anything that you are willing to work towards. It doesn't mean equality of the sexes in a physical way. We will never be the same as men, and frankly, I like my curves. I'm ok with the physical differences. I'm NOT okay with being treated like I'm stupid, or incapable of doing something because I'm a woman.
As far as pageants? I'm w/ my brother on this one--most are child abuse. The moms are freaking crazy. I love when you see the kids actually happy on stage but that isn't the right medium for that to happen. There are other ways for them to learn to preform that doesn't involve them having to act AND LOOK like prostitutes. It's just appalling. I hate the hyper sexualization of our youth but I'm not sure we can entirely point to disney and wanting to be a princess as the reason. I think that most little girls want to be 'girlie' because it's is all part of figuring themselves, and the sexuality out. It isn't necessarily a bad thing. However...it can become one when parents don't draw the line between girlie and 'sexy'
Disney...sigh, what can I say? I grew up with it and damnit, I did find my prince! He's might be downstairs in his underwear playing a video game but he's still my prince!