Everywhere you look there are children running around and playing. Throughout the last decades, we have come to understand that trends among children come and go, but something has become increasingly evident. As an uncle of two nieces and two nephews, I’ve noticed that both of my nieces, around seven years old, were constantly trying to be a Disney princesses. In Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein, I think the author is arguing that at the expense of allowing younger girls to associate themselves with what is deemed socially acceptable, we are damaging women’s future self concept and analytical skills. After having read the article, I came to my conclusion based on different quotes from the text. After reading this, I urge you to look at what the author is saying and see if you can see it play out in your own lives.
To start off, Orenstein wrote, “Teenage girls and college students who hold conventional beliefs about femininity- especially those that emphasize beauty and pleasing behavior are less ambitious and more likely to be depressed than their peers.” I think this quote is relevant to the text and main argument because the author argues that little girls mentality is being shaped by the stereotypes of modern day fairy tales. Typically these stories show women being objects, needy, and just down right defenseless. While stories centered on male characters are focused on courage, intelligence, strength and allegiances. This is a problem, because our society is changing. Women are becoming more independent, and more likely to hold managerial positions at a corporate level, yet women are expected to be kind, nurturing, and caring which is perpetuated through Disney female stereotypes. This leads to a contradiction in the mentality of women.
Another example which illustrates the authors argument is when the author mentioned a study that showed college females interest in math and science related careers declined, when they were asked to wear a bathing suit. If women at a college level are so easily manipulated, what does that mean for a five year old girl. I’m not saying that the women in the study are mentally incapable in any way, because men can be easily manipulated as well. Orenstein mentioned in another study that boys were much more likely to play with ‘girl’ toys if they were told no one would be watching. Which shows us that boys also are told they have a role to play.
Although I didn’t get a chance to talk about Orenstein’s explanation of our cultures fascination with pink feminism. I think it is important to remember the main point. To what extent does the stereotypes of femininity cross the line. Orenstein argued that we allow this to happen so that we can have a common language with our children and because of us wanting to maintain our children's innocence. As children grow out of this childhood princess phase though, they are moving unto more edgy merchandise that emphases the same values of beauty, and appearance.This ultimately may lead to a future where women are more insecure, have a damaged self concept, and are more like their fairytale princesses, defenseless. If this blog was interesting to you check out 'Disney Princes and Princesses Still Slaves To Some Stereotypes' by Jennifer Welsh because she mentions some of the things Orenstein wrote and describes the new direction films are headed towards.
Questions and Comments for class:
I think the author made some good arguments. But I don’t think the author really provided any solutions to the problem. What should we do as a society? Should we make unisex toys and cloths? Make fairytale films, where the female saves the male from impending doom? Should we eliminate all female stereotypes at the expense of losing the notion of femininity?