BOOK REVIEW: "Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture"

A few weeks ago Lauren told me about a book she heard about on NPR called "Cinderella Ate My Daughter". She said that she really wanted to read it and how great it sounded, so being the amazing boyfriend I am, I went to a Borders and shelled out $25.99 for it. Little did I know she'd read it in two days and then beg me to read it because, according to her it was important to read for someone with a daughter - what could I say? So here I was reading a big pink book on the subway. Not only is it pink, but it's covered in glitter and features a princess on the cover - I assure you I looked very manly reading this. Once I began reading it I felt the irony of my embarrassment.

I've never reviewed a book before so bear with me here. The first few chapters really grabbed me and I was very impressed by the thoughts, ideas and concepts that Orenstein brought up. The premise of the book is to show that the 'pretty pink princess' phase isn't as safe and cute as parents and children are made to think. The book starts off well enough and she pulls you in with her witty comments, my favorite of which was "Sesame Street Walker" referring to the portrayal of the (few and far between) female characters on Sesame Street. She does not stop at Seasame Street, she goes on to trash disney, dora, barbie and britney. The book raises a lot of interesting ideas about what these things really stand for, for example disney princesses are fine and dandy but when we look past surface we see at what they represent; weak women waiting for a wealthy man to rescue her, The Little Mermaid's Ariel even gives up her voice for a man.

One of the aspects I loved about the book was how personal it was. Each chapter tackles a new 'phase' in a young girls life through not only statistics and interviews but through intimate stories about her own battles between herself and her daughter Daisy. Hearing the stories, quotes and situations she went through personally really helps the reader connect and feel the 'fear' of these phases. Orenstein is a leader in children's studies and it was a breath of fresh air to hear her admit to struggling with these things just like us regular parents.

Although the book brings up a lot of interesting questions, it provides little to no answers. I understand it's not a how-to or self-help book but I expected to feel more prepared how to protect my daughter from this culture not more confused than ever. Perhaps there just isn't an "answer". Even Orenstein's daughter Daisy who was brought up by one of the biggest crusaders against all things pink went through a Disney Princess phase, so perhaps it really is just unavoidable. Maybe the 'great big marketing machine that is Disney' (and Matel, and Nickelodeon, and MTV and and and...) is just too big and we just can't fight it - but we can sure as hell try!  Although the book doesn't say "do this to stop that..." it does bring up a lot of very interesting thoughts you may not have considered before, it is important to be aware that these influences do exist and I suggest this book to any father of a young daughter.

EDIT --- Peggy Orenstein contacted us! She noticed my complaint of 'lack of answers' and let us know that although they may not be in the book she does provide 'idead to combat' here: - Check it out guys, lot's of neat links and ideas!