Book Review- Cinderella Ate My Daughter (by Peggy Orenstein)


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?

Questions Answered:

  • 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!


14 thoughts on “Book Review- Cinderella Ate My Daughter (by Peggy Orenstein)

  1. Dearest Bubs,
    I love how dedicated you are to all of your posts! You go above and beyond with your answers, and you even discuss topics that you aren’t required to discuss. You are the best,


    1. Dearest Tomicoocoo,

      You are so sweet❤️ As I always say to people when they notice I write a lot, we are all passionate about different things, that’s what makes us special. You are fantastic at writing and you go above and beyond the prompts as well.

      I love you!


  2. Heyyyy Nailab.
    First of all I will start off with the bad so you will be sad when you get to the good and then when you get to the good you will most likely feel happier that you’ve gotten over my criticism.
    ” my mom when to a talk Orenstein gave regarding this book”
    Typing errors like this are sure to confuse the reader, make sure you thoroughly read your blog post twice for grammar and spelling errors! (I know I’m being really hypocritical, but it’s constructive criticism, man.)

    Also maybe at the beginning you could’ve explained that the main character was the author, that Orenstein was the little girl so people aren’t confused later on in the review.

    “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”

    Maybe after you say the reason why some parents put their children in pageants, you could follow up with “however, pageantry is…” Like maybe in the future try to follow up with what you were saying and connect all the loose strings.
    Also here’s another example “A book that I’ve skimmed, called The Whole-Brain Child by Dr. Dan Siegel. This is about…”

    Also, maybe try to not mention the same word in the same sentence multiple times.

    Also, maybe you could define some big words for us so we know what they mean, like the word “consumerisim” (which is spelled consumerism btw.)

    “When a girls”

    Ok here’s the happiness.

    I really loved your blog post, you really put a lot of effort into it and it was really well written. I thought you put a lot of your opinion into this review and I really liked that. You really wrote a lot and, like Tomiko said, went above and beyond in this. Good jobbbbbbbbbb
    Sorry that I was so critical 😦
    – KateK

    Liked by 1 person

      1. By being in a pageant, she was able to make quite a bit of money so her brother could get the services he needed. She was also able to bring joy to her parents if they were feeling sad about her brother not being able to do something.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Also I don’t know if you mentioned this but I didn’t see it, but who would you meet in this book if you got the opportunity to meet someone?


  3. I loved how much you thought about this book and how you related to it. In response to your question “When a little girl loses a competition, how do you think she feels?” I feel it really depends on how old the are but at any age they still have the feeling in loss although some might know that it is just a pageant. But how do you feel about it? you didn’t say you just asked the reader


    1. Good observation! I think she would think that something was wrong with her. She may feel only loss like you were saying. I also agree that age does matter and that maybe at a younger age it doesn’t make much of a difference.


  4. Awesome post!
    I love all the connections you connected and referenced it to. Maybe you can integrate some of the questions into your post so that they come before the answers. Has any part of this book helped you understand more about yourself, your childhood, or the childhood of other girls?


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