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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid