Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Q&A with Peggy Orenstein

January 28, 2011 at 1:46 pm , by

Cinderella Ate My DaughterLast week, I had the chance to chat with Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter (Harper), which went on sale Monday and is quickly becoming a must-read for mothers around the country. LHJ’s February issue contains an excerpt—about girls and body image—but the book is about so much more. In it, Orenstein takes on the extreme “girlie-girl” culture that pervades the lives of young girls today. I was eager to hear more from Orenstein. Could all the princesses, pink and pop stars inundating our daughters’ lives be hindering the development of their identities?

The title of your book suggests that you don’t think too highly of Cinderella. Just what is so bad about princesses?

What concerns me is that the emphasis on appearance and play-sexiness is getting younger and younger. In the last five years the percentage of elementary school girls who feel that their appearance is very important and more important than their schoolwork has gone up. Nearly 40 percent of 6-year-olds regularly wear lipstick and lip gloss and in the last two years the percentage of 8- to 12-year-olds wearing mascara and eyeliner has doubled. I find those to be troubling trends. We know that fixation on those things is unhealthy for girls. It puts them at risk for negative body image, eating disorders, depression and unhealthy choices in intimate relationships.

One of my favorite chapters in the book was about how every item sold to girls these days is pink and princess-y, and how marketing for these toys, games, makeup and more is aimed at ever-younger girls.

It’s true, and this princess culture is so huge that we’ve almost forgotten that it’s only ten years old. Fifteen years ago, there was the occasional movie but you didn’t have princesses on everything from hand sanitizer to diapers. When she was three, my daughter wanted paper cups with Cinderella on them only because they had Cinderella on them. Our daughters should be able to develop the broadest and healthiest possible definition of who they are, and pink and princess everything is not going to get us there.  Why do we need a Scrabble set “for girls” that says FASHION on the box? I don’t care if “fashion” is a seven-letter word.

Read more

Girly-girls and Princesses: Are We Really Born That Way?

June 17, 2010 at 4:30 pm , by

My three-year-old son and I recently stopped into a hardware store to buy some spackle. Scott carried the spackle and a plastic putty knife to the front of the store and put them on the counter by the register. “You’re helping Mommy,” the cashier gushed at him. “What a good boy!” Scott scowled and shot back, “I am NOT a boy. I’m a PRINCESS.”

I’m not sure who was more taken aback, the cashier or me. Scott’s pretty rough-and-tumble, for one thing, and there have literally been no princesses, no stories about princesses, no movies about princesses, not even any commercials about princesses in our house. But he does have a couple of good friends who are girls and apparently it didn’t take long for him to suss out that a princess, whatever that is, is the thing to be.

I’m always amazed when people speak confidently and sweepingly about the vast differences between boys and girls and how innate they are. How could any of us really know? Moms get excited about future mother-daughter mani-pedis the minute they get the amnio results, and 4-month fetuses are assumed to have a strong future interest in football, if they are boys. Nurture is so powerful and starts so early that it’s hard to tell what nature really intended. Read more

Finding Princesses: An Insider Disney Guide

May 13, 2010 at 5:52 pm , by

I’m lucky enough to have parents that have a house about an hour from Orlando so we get to visit Disney World almost every year. (In fact, I bet that was part of their thought behind getting the house. More visits with their grandkids!) Recently, we spent a quick 1-day visit in the Magic Kingdom and it did not disappoint.

Sure we rode the Carousel and Pirates of the Caribbean but our main mission was simple: Find princesses. If you have little girls who love princesses, follow these tips for a royal day:

lilysnowwhiteandsophia1) Make a reservation at Cinderella’s Royal Table in the castle. It’s a fortune but well worth it. It gets booked months in advance but we were able to get in the day before on a cancellation. (Note: There’s a 24-hour cancellation policy so keep calling the day before you want to go.) First we were escorted into the castle where Sophia and Lily got to meet Cinderella herself. Then we went up to breakfast where Aurora, Ariel, Snow White and Belle came around to each table. They take time to talk to you, sign autographs and pose for pictures.  Seeing Sophia that excited was enough to make her Grandma tear-up. Me? Oh, I just had something in my eye. (The princesses are different every day so don’t count on all of these!)

withalladinandjasmine2) Call the ‘Toon Finder Hotline at 407-824-2222 at 9 am on the day of your visit and they’ll tell you where and when the characters will be available for meet-and-greets. We found out that Jasmine and Aladdin were going to be near the Magic Carpet ride at a certain time so we got there 10 minutes before. No waiting in line!

3) Get to Toon Town early. You can find lots of characters at the Hall of Fame, plus Mickey and Minnie at Mickey’s house—but don’t wait for the scheduled 10 am opening time. They actually open the gate at about 9:45 so if you’re there early you can save yourself a lot of wait time.

storytimewithbelle4) See Storytime with Belle. This 20-minute interactive show is offered about 5 times a day near the castle. (Check the daily schedule for times and get there early to secure a seat.) It’s a great show where Belle comes on stage and tells the story of Beauty and the Beast with help from the audience. Somehow Belle could tell that Sophia was the dramatic type so she was lucky enough to get to play the role of Lumiere!

It seems as though the folks at Disney have figured out that kids really love meeting princesses so word has it that there are new meet-and-greet venues being built, like Sleeping Beauty’s cottageThe Beast’s Castle, Ariel’s Adventure, and even Pixie Hollow for those fairy fans. I can’t wait! Oops—I meant to say the kids! The kids can’t wait! (Who am I kidding? I love it as much as they do!)