Just the other day I picked up a new book up at the library — “Cinderella Ate My Daughter” by Peggy Orenstein. I can’t even remember how I heard of this book, but I requested it from the library and just picked it up this past weekend. I’ve read the first 15 pages and am hooked.
I’m very loosely paraphrasing, so if I misrepresent something please don’t
scream that I’m a moron be upset with me. But the book is basically Peggy’s research and hands on experiences with how our daughters are being exposed to the message that beauty, sexuality and overall looks is the means to getting where you want in life.
To quote from the book jacket “…sexualized girlhood influences our daughters, from infancy onward, telling them that how a girl looks matters more than who she is” and “…the pursuit of physical perfection has been recast as a source — the source — of female empowerment.”
Given that I have three girls, I thought this book might be topic I’d want to hear more about. *Ahem.*
In the few pages I’ve read Peggy discusses the Disney Princess explosion that happened in the 1990s that continues today. I admit, I am soooo not the Disney Princess-type mom. I don’t mind if the girls want to play princess dress up. They have Disney Princess coloring books and dress up clothes and games, and my oldest has watched Snow White, The Little Mermaid and Aladdin (although we had to practically force her to watch since she doesn’t like the “bad guys” and runs and hides every time the antagonist in the movie is on-screen. Sheesh.)
I like being a girl, and I care about my looks and like to dress nice and wear makeup and jewelry, but I don’t try to push “girly” stuff on my kids. I’m not going to encourage it but I’m not going to discourage it either. I’ve been trying to keep fairly neutral and I try to keep an assortment of gender-neutral toys and games and movies around. I do admit I do try to avoid buying everything in pink. I prefer purple, green, red, yellow, and even try to throw in some blue. I just don’t think that because I have all girls I need to have everything in pink. (Although I’m sure Chad would disagree and say everything in our house already is pink.)
And so far none of my girls (and by none I mean the older two) seems to have bought into being a girly girl. Yet. Carlie prefers watching Mickey Mouse or Little Einsteins over a princess movie. Although she does love Strawberry Shortcake. And she wanted makeup and jewelry for her birthday this past year. And both older girls love to wear dresses but are just as comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt.
As a mom of three girls I am very worried about the over-sexualization of young girls in society today. I try not to pay too much attention to pre-teen and teen stuff yet (I figure why give myself an ulcer now), but what I do see concerns me. The way these young kids on TV dress, act, and talk, it’s like they’re 21 year olds in 13-year-old bodies. I see how stars and celebrities who are idolized by young girls dress in nothing but a bra-style top and short shorts when they perform.
I don’t know my thoughts yet on if (or how much) commercialism influences the thoughts of our young girls. I’m not saying I think the princess girly-girl stuff does cause early sexualization of girls, I’m not saying it doesn’t. I don’t know how I feel yet.
I just know I want my girls to love themselves, be confident and happy with who they are. Am I living in a dream world? Probably. But I’m going to try damn hard to make sure they do.
I’ll keep you posted on the book. In the meantime, I’m going to go find sales of antacids so I can start stocking up now.
P.S. Did I completely botch this post? I felt like I had a really hard time articulating my thoughts. I have so many trains of thought running through my head on this topic and I wanted to just graze each one and not dig too deep just yet. So if you had a hard time following me, I apologize. After I read the book, or maybe during it, I’ll post more thoughts and dig a bit deeper.