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

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani 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.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid