Author: Peggy Orenstein
Series or standalone: Standalone
Publisher & Date of Publication: Harper, 2011
Source: Library Audiobook
Summary: “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.” (Goodreads)
Review: I expected a lot from this book. I wanted it to be a great feminist read that I could one day look back on and utilize when raising a daughter(s). Instead, Cinderella Ate My Daughter, was lacking. First, I should probably preface this by saying that I am, more than likely, not the intended audience for this book. I am not a mother trying to raise a daughter in our current media landscape and I am a child of the 2000s, the decade she picks apart the most. I fondly remember Lizzie McGuire and That’s So Raven, two shows she dissects in the book, and I grew up unabashedly listening to Britney Spears and the Spice Girls, other sources of Orenstein’s critiques. Additionally, I am History/Gender Studies double major, so none of this information was revolutionary for me.
In this book, Orenstein covers a wide array of topics from body image and the sexualization of children through beauty pageants to the gender scripts girls are handed at birth. The information she provides on these topics is important, albeit a bit shallow. This book is only 245 pages, so there was plenty of room to expand. The book also lacked intersectionality. Race was touched upon briefly toward the end when Orenstein discussed watching The Princess and the Frog. Additionally, socioeconomic class was not really touched upon as much as it could have been. Instead, the book mostly focuses on white/upper-middle class experiences, like her friend spending hundreds of dollars at the American Girl store on doll furniture for her daughter. That, to me, was almost more shocking than the baby beauty pageants.
Overall, this book would be good for someone who is inexperienced with feminist literature or has a burgeoning interest in gender studies. Personally, it left me longing for a reread of Bad Feminist.
Rating: 3 stars