Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein

Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein
Published by Harper Paperbacks, an imprint of HarperCollins
Review copy provided by the publisher in conjunction with TLC Book Tours

Girls in America are being marketed to at younger and younger ages, the message being that looks are everything and becoming a princess should be the ultimate goal. With a young daughter of her own, Peggy Orenstein grew very concerned about this princess phenomena and set out to understand and analyze it. Orenstein digs deep into this subject, exploring the Disney Princess empire, the Pageant circuit, the American Girl store, and she even attends a Miley Cyrus concert. What she finds might not surprise you, but will definitely empower you to make better decisions regarding your own daughters, nieces, sisters, and other young girls in your life.

I was very impressed by Orenstein’s Schoolgirls when I read it years ago, so Cinderella Ate My Daughter went on my TBR list as soon as it was published last year. With this book, I continued to appreciate Orenstein’s ability to get to the heart of an issue, to really involve herself in what she’s studying, and to write about these issues in a conversational tone that is the complete opposite or dry or boring.

One thing I loved about Cinderella Ate My Daughter is how Orenstein presents what she finds in such a balanced way. For example, when she attends a beauty pageant for young girls (babies through elementary school girls), she expects to be repulsed by the way the mothers tart up their daughters in caked-on makeup and inappropriate outfits and coach them to flirt with the judges, which, don’t get me wrong, she definitely is. However, she sees another side to these pageants, she sees the humanity in these mothers and in the young girls competing, and she is not afraid to show that side to the reader too. Instead of sensationalizing how horrific these pageants are, she makes it clear that these are real people participating and encouraging their daughters to participate, and they are not evil people or bad parents because of it. This is one example of how Orenstein illustrates that there are no easy answers to these issues.

While it is disappointing that Orenstein can’t wave a magic wand and come up with the perfect antidote to princess culture, it is reassuring to learn that there are things all parents can do and say to give their daughters a better way of understanding and interpreting the messages that they are inundated with on a daily basis. While Cinderella Ate My Daughter doesn’t come up with many answers, it is a fascinating book and at the very least, gives parents a very clear understanding of what they are up against in the attempt to raise intelligent, independent, forward-thinking, clear-headed daughters. Cinderella Ate My Daughter is a must-read for anyone with a young daughter, niece, granddaughter, sister, etc. Highly recommended.

13 thoughts on “Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein”

  1. There are so many horrifying things out there whittling away at our girls! Some you can control and others you simply cannot, unless you lock them up in a closet. Have you ever watched those reality shows for the kid beauty pageants? OMG. The mothers are 90% of the problem. Anyway, I did not read this book, but I’m pretty sure nothing here would surprise me. Great review!

  2. So glad to hear you liked this one as well, I really did too. Like you I wish there were easy answers, but at least she gives some solutions, and she lays them out so well!

  3. I’ve had this book for a while but haven’t had a chance to read it. I have become very aware of all the princess messages I see, though, and it’s rather frightening.

  4. It is really hard to raise a teenage daughter in this culture, and we run into issues all the time. I find the way that this book presents it’s material to be very interesting. The fact that Orenstein doesn’t castigate, but seeks to understand and sees the relevance, and even the love of some of these mothers and their daughters impresses me. My daughter is not one of those to be swayed by the princess behavior, but it still infiltrates a lot of the kids around her, and sometimes even how she behaves. This was a great review, Heather, and really opened my eyes about some things.

  5. Having raised two daughters to adulthood I can vouch for how challenging it can be as well as how rewarding. I don’t get the whole pageant thing. Interesting that she could show balance. I’d go into reading it with a definite bias, I’m afraid.

  6. It is amazing how many things can influence young girls today, and even more amazing (or horrifying) that there are so many influences we are totally oblivious to!

    Thanks for taking the time to read this one for the tour.

  7. It was interesting to read your review of this one as I have been reading it off and on now for a couple of months. I have to check it out from the library so it has gone back unfinished a couple of times now. What I have read though, I’ve enjoyed. It is definitely an interesting read especially when I have a 4 year old daughter of my own who is VERY girly and into EVERYTHING pink. Great review!!

  8. I’ve told my daughter that she is a princess since the day she was born. But being a princess has never meant that she had to act like/dress like/ or have the attitude of a princess. Oh sure, we had all of the Disney movies and even some of the costume stuff but thank heavens it never got to be more than that. I think this is one that any parent of a young girl needs to read.

  9. You made some good points there. I checked on the internet for more info about
    the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this web site.

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