Now is that a great title, or is that a great title? In fact, it was a brief glimpse at the title of today’s book that fired my curiosity and ultimately led to my immersion in the topic, despite not having a daughter myself. Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontline of the New Girly Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein delves into the baffling, overwhelming and generally difficult-to-negotiate world of parenting young girls in the modern era. The book focuses around Orenstein’s own struggles and contradictory actions in balancing out a healthy, fun childhood experience for her daughter with her own philosophies and values around gender and identity.
For Orenstein, raising a daughter to be a strong, confident person with a diverse range of talents and interests and a healthy understanding of her own femininity and the numerous ways in which it can be expressed, was a simple and straightforward matter. Then, of course, she had a daughter. Let the befuddlement (and 5th birthday spa and facial parties) commence!
Read it if:
* you have noticed that Disney Princesses, when depicted together, never make eye contact, and you are curious as to why that might be
* you shook your head in bewilderment on realising that Dora (intrepid explorer and wielder of the purple backpack of adventure) was suddenly dressing in fairy and princess garb
* you’ve suddenly noticed a lot more four-year-olds of your acquaintance wearing lip gloss and eye shadow
* you can’t remember when entire aisles at the toy store became swathes of pink….even in the Lego section
* you are the parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, teacher or carer of a female under the age of 18
I found this to be an enlightening read despite not having female offspring to apply it to. Orenstein exposes some of the more insidious aspects of girl culture while acknowledging the difficulties parents (herself included) experience in finding a middle ground that allows kids to be shielded from incessant (and age-inappropriate) marketing drives, while still enjoying activities and toys that are important to their peers. It’s also a reasonably quick and light read with plenty of humour, and with thought-provoking material in every chapter it’s the sort of book that provides value even when being skimmed, or picked up and put down. Highly recommended.
Until next time,