I found this book on my mom’s shelf. I recall seeing this book when I was around six. I was so curious as to what the topic meant, that when I found it recently, I felt the burning desire to read it. When I first saw the cover and understood the title of Cinderella Ate My Daughter, my mother was getting her MA in Child Development. Though she hadn’t read the book, my mom went to a talk Orenstein gave regarding this book.
Cinderella Ate My Daughter is a non-fiction book that encompasses what growing up as a girl is (very generally,) like in the U.S., from birth to roughly the teenage years. This book doesn’t have a typical plot, but it feeds information like a fiction book feeds fantasy, it makes you want to read more and more. In this book, Orenstein travels to different places to prove points, but mostly to figure things out for herself. This book is also about Peggy Orenstein’s questions about raising her daughter, which she ends up answering during the whole of the book. Peggy Orenstein says, and I am loosely paraphrasing, that even after writing so many books on how to “raise a daughter,” she found herself panicking at the notion that she would have a daughter, because she was worried she couldn’t follow her own research and that she felt she had to be constantly and consistently making the right choices, as no parent is ever able to.
One of the events in this book is a toddler beauty pageant. Orenstein travels to a beauty pageant to try to understand why parents would decide to put their daughter/s in a pageant. One of the young girls she met had an older brother who had some sort of mental and/or physical disability. As you can imagine, this was hard on her family financially, and her being in a pageant helped her household stay strong (in a sense). The financial gain from pageantry is quite a bit (in most cases). Another reason why parents involve their children in a pageantry of because they believe that gives their child self-confidence. Pageantry actually is detrimental to a child’s confidence. Pageantry teaches kids to base their self-worth off their looks. A judge deciding who’s looks are the best, is that really okay? I’m not saying I don’t understand reasons why a parent would want their child to participate in a pageant. Pageantry doesn’t have to be bad. I’m just stating my opinions on the effects of pageantry. When a little girl loses a competition, how do you think she feels?
I have never participated in a beauty pageant and I doubt I ever will, due to my age. I do not wish to compete, because, at the tender age of 13, self-confidence is not something I have a ton of.
I would rate this book a 10/10, if not possibly more. I really like this book because I can understand and draw connections from my childhood to the growth of this country’s economy due to marketing aimed at young girls. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in society’s effect on young girls and/or marketing.
Marketing is an important topic in this book. Orenstein explains how American Girl Dolls connect to today’s consumerism. Danielle Todd said it best in her article You Are What You Buy: Postmodern Consumerism and the Construction of Self, “Consumption is intimately tied to the creation and production of a sense of self.” Do you see how this could tie into young girls owning $100 dolls?
This book has so many different topics in it, but one easy connection is the article I mentioned earlier, by Danielle Todd. They both talk about consumerisim and how “consumption leads to more consumption.” This book is similar to many books about the physcology of a young child. A book that I’ve skimmed, called The Whole-Brain Child by Dr. Dan Siegel is about the development of a child’s brain, full of ways to nurture your child and learn from your child.
A question I had while reading this was what is the effect that the Disney Princesses bestow upon girls at a very young age? Orenstein concluded that Disney tells girls that it’s exceedingly important to be beautiful, sexy, and/or pretty. This creates a fixation on looks. Am I the “fairest of them all”? As well as bringing up girls who mostly just care about their looks, Disney adds to young girls’ ideas of pleasing instead of pleasuring. When a girls look at these princesses, they are learning that when you please a man, (a boyfriend, a boy,) that is what is “truly good,” important, and that that should give a girl pleasure. This does not teach a girl to be intimate with herseld, rather, it teaches her to rely on others for that, Growing up, girls will have an increasingly harder time learning to be intimate with themselves, while instead they aim to please males. While reading, I realized that this doesn’t just have to do with the Disney Princesses, but it also has to do with the way most girls are brought up. We are brought up to not be sexual creatures. We are told that that is slutty. So how can girls learn to be intimate with theirselves, and to not just want to please males?
- 1. Why did you choose this book?
- 2. Explain the plot of the book, or if it is a non-fiction book, what topics are covered.
- 3. Describe one of the characters in the book. Would you want to meet this character? Why or why not?
- 4. What is your opinion of the book? Would you recommend it? Why or why not?
- 5. Explain how this book is similar to another book, film, story, or article that you have read or seen. What connections or comparisons can you make?
- 6. What do you think the main idea or theme of this story is? What is the author trying to tell you about life or our world with this book?
(Note: some questions altered due to the type of book [reasearch].)
Thanks for reading!Please check out some of my other posts to get good reading suggestions. Feel free to comment below!