Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Peggy Orenstein's "Cinderella Ate My Daughter"

Peggy Orenstein's books include the New York Times best-selling memoir, Waiting for Daisy; Flux: Women on Sex, Work, Kids, Love and Life in a Half-Changed World; and the best-selling SchoolGirls: Young Women, Self-Esteem and the Confidence Gap.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture, and reported the following:
I don’t know that page 99 is ever so reflective of Cinderella Ate My Daughter. It’s one of the few places in the book where I take a step back and think about boys: specifically, whether play violence (guns and such) ought to be banned by parents. I talk about the difference between open-ended play violence, which was common when I was a kid, and the kind of scripted, rote play violence that kids indulge in now. The former is fine and healthy; the latter not so much. And I suppose, to the extent it is representative, that’s how I feel about princesses, too. When many of today’s parents were little, play, whether princesses or something else, was not defined by licensed products. What is new, and what I’m exploring in the book, is the unprecedented way that girls are encouraged at ever earlier ages—2, 3, 4, 5, 6--to define themselves through beauty, diva-hood and play sexiness. And how, as a parent and a journalist, I struggle to understand and approach that trend while raising a daughter. People often ask me about boys. And here, perhaps, I indicate what I believe to be true: Boys have their own set of issues, their own marketing push, and their own struggles to define masculinity in a healthy way. But that was not my book to write, this one was!

The other way page 99 may be less representative is that the book is often both personal and funny. This section is more sociological. That’s critical to the underpinning of the book, but the style and tone are not really well-represented here. And that personal, amused tone was very important to me. I don’t want to sound like a scold or like my book tells parents the “right” way to raise their girls. I’m a fellow traveller on this journey, a mom trying to do her best, working it out as I go along--sometimes right, sometimes wrong--and that’s who I am and how I wrote this book.
Learn more about the book and author at Peggy Orenstein's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Peggy Orenstein's Waiting for Daisy.

--Marshal Zeringue