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Cinderella Ate My Daughter

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I just started reading Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein, and it is really resonating with me. I'm starting this thread as a place that to discuss the ideas in this book (whether or not you have read the book!). I have so many thoughts whirling around my head, and I'm only on Chapter 1!

 

For those who haven't read it, Cinderella Ate My Daughter is the journey of one mother to examine the rise of the girlie-girl culture.

 

Reading the first chapter, I was first struck by how similar my experience has been to the author. Before DD, I was known to say to family, "My DD will never......play dress-up princesses, like the color pink, choose Barbie's over trains". Then I became a mom, and realized kids have a mind of their own. smile.gif

 

Fast-forward 5 years, and I notice the creep of girlie-girl in our house. And now I can't decide how to handle it, or what to make of it. Disney Princesses stayed out of our home for a long time, and only arrived after she turned 4. She is not obsessed with them, so I tolerate the Princess dress-up clothes and Barbie-like Princess dolls, since they are mixed in with pirate costumes, doctor, ballerina, vet, etc. As a toddler, she loved trains, now it is babies and dolls. 

 

And Legos. But don't get me started on how the 'girl's' Lego set looks like a box of pink vomit. And Lego Friends...still not sure how I feel about those, which are DD's favorite. I get annoyed with Lego that the Friends line is so...so...one-dimensional, for lack of a better word.

 

I try my hardest to allow my daughter to be anything she wants to be. If that means dressing up as Cinderella, so be it. I don't want to demonize her choice in the name of choice. But at the same time I want to limit the influence of brand-driven consumerism.

 

I'm sometimes amazed at how I, a pink-averse, feminist non-girlie girl, ended up giving birth to a child who loves all things pink.I do love how girly she is (it's a novelty for me), but I wonder how much of it is peer-influenced? Or grandparent-influenced: they heap the pink stuff on her. Because more than anything, I want her interests and desires to shine through, not be dictated to her.

post #2 of 8

I was like you, kind of. I didn't want her to be socialized into thinking that certain colors are for girls. But I gave in to the color thing v. early. She was a new born and if we put green or yellow on her we'd have parents at the pediatirician's asking if it was a boy or girl. Then when she was around 8 months old she was wearing cream. Some big kids who had come there asked their mom whether the baby was a girl or a boy. After that I was like my girl needs to look like a girl. I gave away most blue clothes. Like you, I too love how girly she is. I guess there is minimal interference from my side. Some days blue is her favorite color other days it's purple. One time it was black. Recently, she asked a balloon guy to make her a sword. I guess I'll just let her evolve.

post #3 of 8

I'm not sure what I can blame it on. My daughter hasn't gone to preschool, and I homeschool her older brothers. We don't have any princess movies of our own. She has seen beauty and the beast, Tangled, and Brave. She's also seen lots of star wars. For her 3rd birthday, I made a "stinky" stuffy for her (Rota the Hutt , for those familiar with the Clone Wars universe).

 

What does she like? princess dress up. All things pink or purple. It's a marvel where she picked up this facination, but it's there. She is frillier that I have ever been, and I'd be keeping something from her if I tried to squash it.

post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Pajama View Post

I'm not sure what I can blame it on. My daughter hasn't gone to preschool, and I homeschool her older brothers. We don't have any princess movies of our own. She has seen beauty and the beast, Tangled, and Brave. She's also seen lots of star wars. For her 3rd birthday, I made a "stinky" stuffy for her (Rota the Hutt , for those familiar with the Clone Wars universe).

 

What does she like? princess dress up. All things pink or purple. It's a marvel where she picked up this facination, but it's there. She is frillier that I have ever been, and I'd be keeping something from her if I tried to squash it.

 

I just read an interesting section in the book, explaining how until age 5, kids don't fully realize that their own identities (and anatomies) are fixed. And as late as age 7, kids don't understand that a person's gender stays the same despite superficial differences (a man wearing a dress is still a man). That developmentally speaking, at age 4 is when girls feel the need to prove they are girls, and vice versa for boys. Which coincides with the exact age that the Disney Princesses markets itself to. Smart marketing. 

 

I do believe that there is a genetic component to the different ways that girls and boys play, and what kinds of toys they are interested in. Where I think the problem arises, is that this difference in play, rather than being viewed equally, leads to all the assumptions and gender stereotypes present in our culture. For example, my daughter loves to play with dolls. Yesterday, she took her doll 'grocery shopping'...and proceeded to utilize a whole variety of math skills--telling time, adding up the cost of her 'purchases', counting how many seconds it took to wash baby's hair--in the course of that imaginative play.

 

But our society's bias is that a girl playing with dolls is just that...a girl playing with a doll. Yet boys building with blocks are our country's next engineers (slightly unrelated, but DD likes to build with blocks, too). When she plays doctor with her dolls (my DH is a doctor), she incorporates a huge wealth of random science knowledge in her play, but again, a grandparent comes over, and it's "aww...she's so cute playing with that dolly". 

post #5 of 8

i have not read the book but i have heard of it and read reviews of it. 

 

to be very honest with you, now that my dd is 10, looking back i found i gave this whole thing way too much importance when i could have used my time for better things. 

 

i have learnt it didnt matter what she did. what matters is 'ME' and what i believe in and what i stand for. 

 

my dd is still super curious and she is not a stay at home kinda child. so she was watching and noting her surroundings. dd did the typical princess phase later on even though she had been exposed to earlier in daycare from a princess crazy friend. however even at 4 her favourite princess was princess Fiona. i've seen her go through phase pink. i enjoyed her doll phase because she only played with baby dolls for a little bit and 'nurtured' them.

 

now at 10 she is sooo not a girly girl at all. at 10 my dress loving, rarely pant wearing girl now only wears jeans. the other day her friends made her wear a dress - and i have to admit she looked strange in it as i have so gotten used to her in jeans. she is definitely a preteen. 

 

when gender play was huge in 3rd and 4th grade she wouldnt accept it. 

 

dd is v. in the preteen phase. she even has short hair and was thrilled with a second grader came up to her and asked her if she was a girl or boy. dd can pass of as a girl or as a young teenage boy. 

 

so these are phases. and this is another phase. i think phases are so important. to have that option to experiment. when dd got into spiderman she called herself super princess spidergirl. she loved spiderman from teh time she could crawl. from target beach towels. 

post #6 of 8

I second the suggestion not to fret it too much.  My DD has been getting progressively less girly-girl as she gets older - it peaked at about 5, and has been waning since then. She's 7 now.  She went through a phase of only wearing dresses, because "that's what girls wear" and wanting pink everything and liking the princessy stuff to now wearing jeans all the time and being almost scornful of girls who are still "girly".  Granted, I *have* tried to gently nudge that process along, and I'm still a little disturbed by the apparent student culture at her school seems to discourage boy/girl friendships - but I'm not nearly as secretly horrified by her predilections now as I was 2 years ago.

 

Some boys go through a pinky & frilly phase too, but it's usually more brief and happens earlier.  We had a neighbour who went through it at just the right time to enjoy many of DD's hand-me-down pink dresses winky.gif  It was great.  He looked lovely in them, too.

post #7 of 8

I only read the synopsis from NPR's website but it sounds like the author is saying that allowing girls to dress up in princess clothes makes them think being sexy is important and I think that is ridiculous.  I am sure some of this comes down to how you handle things and what your child watches on tv though.  I always pointed out stereotypes as inaccurate and screened the few shows I allowed my dd to watch to ensure they were appropriate so dressing up, singing songs from disney soundtracks (in addition to the many other children's cd's she chose at the library), and calling herself a princess really had no negative effect on her.  My dd is ten and has gone through many many phases since the princess phase (cat, volcano tamer, spiderman, harry potter, etc...) and none of them have changed the independent, determined child she is.  I think the messages children get at home are the most important ones and the message my dd got was that it is okay to be who you want to be and don't let anybody tell you differently. 

 

TAs a side note, I also kept the friendship legos out of the house until recently though but now that she has some of those I have to say I really like them a lot and would definitely mix the sets if I were to raise a child again because they have a full range of accessories that my dd loves to use to complete her lego villages. 

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post

I only read the synopsis from NPR's website but it sounds like the author is saying that allowing girls to dress up in princess clothes makes them think being sexy is important and I think that is ridiculous.  

 

Actually, that's not the message she's giving in the book at all! It's more an analysis of how the culture of girlhood has changed compared to previous generations. In reality, she is rather flip-floppy in the book, coming out with info and statistics on things that are bad (mostly the way girls are marketed too, and the kinds of toys and shows made for them), but she never really calls for a complete ban. That's what I liked about it, because I also think forbidding things completely is not the right thing to do. She also talks about how many toys are marketed for moms (the ones with the wallet) as much as they are for kids, which I found very interesting, and true to an extent. Take, for example, American Girl dolls. I had just as much fun visiting that store for the first time, probably more than DD did. She may one day have an AG historical doll, but a big part of that is the fact I was not allowed to have one as a child (too expensive), and I remember how desperately I wanted one (Felicity, to be exact). 

 

Her biggest complaint in the book is not that the Princess phase is bad. It is a critique of the mass marketing machine, and the lack of other play options for girls who don't want to play with pink toys. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by spughy View Post

I second the suggestion not to fret it too much.  

 

I'm not really worrying too much. smile.gif If it was a huge concern for me, I would have figured out my plan of action a while ago, lol. My lack of consistency stems more from my ideas about moderation. I don't mind DD having a barbie or two, and a few princess dresses, as long as it doesn't become an obsession for her. And it hasn't. She plays with puzzles, reads books, builds with Lego's, draws pictures, plays with her baby doll, plays outside, all more than she plays with princess things. Plus, I've always shunned most mainstream things, so part of my dislike in the Princess-thing comes from that. twins.gif  She is starting to label certain objects as "Boy's" (the tools in our garage, as one example) which really caught me off guard when it first happened!. But I just explain why it's for girls just as much as boys, and hope she comes around eventually!

 

My interest lies more in my anthropological background, I love reading and thinking about women's studies, cultural studies, etc. 

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