I finished Cinderella Ate My Daughter last night. I had already been fighting a battle to keep away the princess-y claptrap that seems to surround pre-school girls if possible. This has been an intuitive reaction on my part, with no real reason behind the emotion. My daughter seems to gravitate towards pink, tulle and flowers, which I do NOT push on her. The book was very alarming.
Before I begin my critique, here’s a pop quiz to take the pulse of how “girly” I am:
Which of the following are true?
A. I took ballet until I was 14.
B. In high school, I was a cheerleader.
C. On my wedding day, I walked down the aisle to the theme from “The Princess Bride”.
D. On my wedding day, I wore a tiara.
E. A and C.
F. All of the above.
G. None of the above.
I’ll let you know the answer at the bottom of the post.
Peggy Orenstein’s research comes to a few scary conclusions: today’s princess culture teaches young girls that being “the fairest of them all” is the most important trait, encourages young teens to be “hot” and “sexy” too early, and has led to the large increase in eating disorders of all stripes. Some pretty serious accusations. Apparently, most young girls naturally need to define themselves as female, and the Disney princess gear allows them the chance to do this, but the gear is really bad for them.
She doesn’t really provide any solutions or alternatives to counter this culture, other than “say no” to your daughter when she asks for the Sleeping Beauty Manicure/Pedicure Station. Which I already do. And also, to tell her she’s beautiful when she’s doing hard work or pursuing an athletic activity, not when she’s wearing a pretty dress or has her hair done.
I had mentioned that one thing I liked about the pioneer, stoic culture of the mid 1800s was that they valued in appearance stoutness and the ability of the physical body to do hard work. If you were thin, you were to be avoided as a spouse because you were probably sickly.
So I guess I should encourage my daughter to appreciate what her body can DO and not what it looks like.
Does anyone have any other ideas about girly girls? Because I’m afraid the answer to my quiz is F. I am a girly girl myself. I hated sports, and dance was the only activity I was good at. I planned my wedding when I was 5. My mom, a tap-dancer and high-school cheerleader herself, discouraged the ultra-feminine. Barbie was not allowed, and sports were encouraged. It didn’t work. Is my daughter destined to be a girly-girl? How do I help her avoid the traps associated with such things, if so?