News / USA

Frilly, Pink Culture Could Have Negative Impact on US Girls

Journalist Peggy Orenstein looks at stereotyped ideal in 'Cinderella Ate My Daughter'

Multimedia

Audio
Faiza Elmasry

Even though women continue to advance in American society, many little girls still get stuck in a world of fairytale princesses and frilly pink dresses. That does not sit well with journalist Peggy Orenstein, who mused about her young daughter’s obsession with Disney princesses and predilection for the color pink in a New York Times Magazine essay.

She reflects on the overwhelming emphasis on this stereotyped ideal for girls in a new book, "Cinderella Ate My Daughter." Orenstein is at war with what she describes as our hyper-feminized girlie-girl consumer culture.

'Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture,' by Peggy Orenstein
'Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture,' by Peggy Orenstein

"What is marketed to girls is this idea of pink and pretty. It fuses the idea of appearance with innocence, and then presents the interest in appearance as being evidence of their innocence," she says. "But what’s happening is that girls are emphasizing the way they look more and more and more. So, we’re talking about makeup and provocative dresses and all of that kind of thing."

Many parents don’t see anything wrong with their little girls playing Cinderella, putting on make-up and dressing up as cute princesses, but Orenstein wonders about the long-term impact of encouraging that behavior.

"I think parenting is such a present tense thing. When your daughter is 3 months old, you can't imagine having a 6-year old. And when you have a 6-year old, you don’t want to imagine having a 13-year old. You don’t tend to step back and see the context and the arc. I wanted to provide that for parents so they can make their choices more intentionally and really think about whether indulging them in this when they’re three was going to be healthy for them when they were 13."

After speaking to marketers, social historians, parents, psychologists and doctors, Orenstein found there was cause to worry.

Journalist and author Peggy Orenstein
Journalist and author Peggy Orenstein

"The American Psychological Association put out a report a couple of years ago that said that an early over-emphasis on appearance and play-sexiness can create a vulnerability in girls to the sorts of issues that we as parents worry about such as negative body image, eating disorders, depression and poor sexual choices," she says. "The American Academy of Pediatrics just put out a warning to its member physicians to be more on guard for signs of eating disorders in children under 12 because they’ve been on the rise and under diagnosed."

When girls define themselves by how they appear to others rather than by how they feel internally, she says, it sets them up for disappointment.

"We see 15-year-old girls looking in the mirror with increasing doubt, with increasing anxiety and saying, ‘Am I the fairest of them all?’ and thinking ‘No, I am not, but maybe I will be if I buy this product or that product,’ and never feeling satisfied with who they are."

Orenstein says parents have the power to raise healthy, self-confident daughters. They can provide positive alternatives that counter the influence of the media to buy certain products and look a certain way.

"It’s not good enough just to say 'no' to the things coming at you. You have to find other things that are out there that you can say 'yes' to, that are fun and joyfully connect your daughter to being a girl, that can broaden and enhance and create options for your daughter and how she defines herself as a girl."

Orenstein includes a list of resources she says parents can say 'yes' to on her website. They include children’s books, like "Pippi Longstocking," in which girls stand up for themselves, movies with strong young heroines like Disney's "Mulan," and suggestions for activities like yoga to help girls develop a positive body image.

With all the resources available today, Orenstein says, parents can raise confident young women in spite of the seductive power of the girlie girl culture.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid