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

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee 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.
US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Paradei
X
Anush Avetisyan
November 26, 2014 10:57 PM
Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid