One Halloween, my sister and I dressed as fairy princesses. My mother made our costumes and we wore them over our winter coats, which was very disappointing. But we had fun with the fabric wings, plastic tiaras, and star wands with rhinestones. It was just one Halloween and I would have been just as happy to be a witch, ghost, or cat. But “princess” is now a phase. There are girls who wear princess costumes on regular school days. The term “princess” has become a compliment instead of meaning “bossy.” Everything is pink! It may only be a trend but could “princessification” have lasting effects?
This question is addressed in Cinderella Ate My Daughter as Peggy Orenstein delves deep into princesses, pink, and prettiness. She looks at the marketing of toys, television shows, and beauty products to young girls. She visits DisneyLand, the American Girl Place, beauty pageants, and industry toy fairs. She even discusses Facebook and online bullying with a few preteens. How does this all connect? Orenstein is interested in the values we market to young girls (like beauty and fashion) and their consequences, such as low self-esteem and risky online behavior, whether bullying or sexting. She finds that there is a connection.
Although a serious topic, Orenstein presents it all in a pretty humorous way and it is an entertaining book. If anything, it is a great overview of the products and media currently favored by girls. Apparently, Dora the Explorer is now a fairy princess.