Cinderella Ate My Daughter

It’s not just being the fairest of them all — it’s being the hottest of them all, the most Paris Hilton of them all, the most Kim Kardashian of them all



A couple weeks ago I posted about my shock at how “girly” my girl is despite my best efforts to promote gender neutrality. It does seem that Coraline is getting girlier by the day, from her continued insistence on wearing pink and purple to her deepening obsession with baby dolls. While I don’t find this behavior disturbing — some of it, like her nursing her dolls, is incredibly touching — I do worry how to let Coraline be a girl without letting her become a princess. Apparently this is not an unfounded fear; Peggy Orenstein, a “girl behavior” expert, just published a book called Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture. And while it’s nice to know my concern is not unique, it feels slightly disheartening to know just how complex this issue is.

According to a Newsweek article (comically entitled “Disney Princesses and the Battle for Your Daughter’s Soul”), Cinderella’s raison de'etre is summed up as this: “This princess mania, many argue, leaves girls all mixed up: while they excel in school and outpace their male peers in science and math, they also obsess about Prince Charming and who has the prettiest dress, learning — from a mix of mass marketing and media — not that girls are strong, smart, or creative, but that each is a little princess of her own, judged by the beauty of her face (and gown).” Orenstein then says, “It’s not that princesses can’t expand girls’ imaginations. But in today’s culture, princess starts to turn into something else. It’s not just being the fairest of them all, it’s being the hottest of them all, the most Paris Hilton of them all, the most Kim Kardashian of them all.”

And that right there ladies and gentlemen is every parent’s worse nightmare: their little girl, the vapid sex object. Yet another strong argument for non-commercial toys, limited screen time, cautious consumerism, and great intimacy with the word “no.”

Anyone read the book? Have any thoughts about the princess epidemic?


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About This Blog

Shannon Gallagher

Shannon Gallagher
Rhinebeck, NY


Dutchess County native Shannon Gallagher is a contributing editor for Hudson Valley Magazine. An erstwhile thrill-seeker, these days she courts disaster of a different variety wrangling a spirited toddler, honing her vegan baking skills, and chasing the ever-elusive work-family balance. She teaches Pilates and does fascial bodywork, and lives in Rhinebeck with Coraline, a cat named Otie, and Sushi the Fish (named, of course, by the toddler).

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