Tag Archives: Peggy Orenstein

Day 36: What To Do About the Girly Girls?

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?


Filed under Discovering joy, Family, Fear

Day 24: Books, Feminism and Princesses, Oh My

Edited to Add: Obviously I don’t blame men, but wonder about the societal norms and pressure put on young men to party, have fun and settle down much, much later (late twenties/early thirties). I asked my husband tonight why he wanted to wait so long before we had kids and he said, “Because I thought that was the way things were supposed be done.” I also asked if he regretted not starting earlier and he said yes.

Both my kids are sick, and I haven’t slept in about 48 hours which probably explains why I am willing to tackle such weighty topics. Blaaaame the sleep sleep sleep deprivation.

Peggy Orenstein wrote a fantastic memoir about her experience dealing with infertility called “Waiting for Daisy”. It was the only good read I found out there that spoke to me when I was enduring the crappy turbulence of IVF. (I did NOT enjoy “A Few Good Eggs” and Melissa Ford’s book “Navigating the Land of IF”  had not come out yet.)

She just published a new book called “Cinderella Ate My Daughter” that I am eager to read for a few reasons. I have an aversion to the whole Disney princess thing, mostly because I’m afraid the movies have one main underlying message to women: being beautiful is all that matters. Yet my daughter is drawn to all things girly and pink and she calls herself a princess. (I have never even uttered that word ALOUD since she has been born.) I have been trying to channel these urges into books like Madeline and even Fancy Nancy. Anything but Sleeping Beauty. I’d like to try to raise her to be a strong, assertive, responsible and kind woman, not a princess. Obviously feminism plays into these goals.

I consider myself a feminist. I worked many years in a demanding job, and I certainly believe in equal pay for equal work. Yet the truth is our best years of fertility are in our 20s. This is why Runny Yolk’s essay caught my eye: she blames feminism as she struggles with her own infertility. It’s a compelling read.

You know what? I blame MEN. Why are all guys such commitment-phobic, fancy-free, don’t-tie-me-down JERKS in their 20s? Or, ahem, the ones, you know, I met during that time. Even Darcy, my husband, that paragon of men, put off our own family-building for four years until he was ready.

I think a re-education of men is called for. Let’s stop targeting women with these scare-tastic campaigns about their eggs. The truth is mens’ sperm have more problems as they grow older, too. Who knows this? Not very many men.

What does this have to do with Peggy Orenstein’s book? (And boy, did this end up being a RANT!) Maybe the answer is to encourage my adorable little son to realize that his peak fertility years are in his 20s, and he shouldn’t be a jerk to women, and maybe even he should start searching for “the one” in his early twenties. Maybe he’ll tell his friends and then my daughter will meet a wonderful man in her twenties. I’m also going to try to teach him to value more than physical appearance when it comes to choosing his mate.

Imagining my son as a thoughtful, caring husband to a wonderful woman makes me happy. Am I making a nuanced situation too simplistic? Talk to me…


Filed under Discovering joy, ICLW, Infertility