Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cinderella Ate My Daughter

I've gotten through a shitload of books recently.  Last year my resolution was to read more, and I think I did a pretty fine job this year.  I've burned through a stack of books that I'd bought over the years but never cracked open, and I also started taking advantage of Toronto's wonderful public library system - although I have to admit that there's been a pretty steep learning curve in terms of using it's website.  Here's a tip - you're allowed up to 50 books at a time (for three weeks - ridiculous amount of books) and so if all the books you want are available right away they send them all to you.  There are ways to keep books on your list and not have them send them and I've since learned it.  Either way I was saddled with a dozen books, and so while I read a good chunk of them over the last month there were some where after twenty pages I just couldn't be bothered anymore.  Sorry books, but if you're not grabbing me after twenty pages, chances are you're not going to grab me any further in.  I apologize for the books that pique late.
This that brings me to this book, which I think I was inspired to read after having read about it on a friend's blog.  First off - I do in fact have a daughter now (tiny though she is) and so a book like this appealed to me greatly.  It's mostly about how girls are marketed to and treated as a whole - it later delves into girls roles in social media and sexting, etc... but the brunt of the topic comes early on.  My issue with the book is that despite a whole lot of wonderful and interesting topics and lessons, I never quite felt like Peggy Orenstein had decided what her book was to be about and what stance she took.  She even, at one point, mentions through a conversation that she has with her husband that she has difficulty making up her mind on the issues. 
Listening to her as she writes about beauty pageants for five year olds and how a New York toy air was about 75% pink are equally frustrating and tantalizing.  It's a tricky subject when you're a progressive parent, and as Orenstein notes, it's even trickier when you're sending your kid out into a world where the people aren't as progressive.  Kids are going to want crap that you don't want to have them to have - we're dealing with that with our two year-old-son right now.  It's tough and it's hard to know where to draw the line, and this book gives you some food for thought.  She clearly has her ideas and while they aren't always firm, they're articulate.  My biggest complaint about the book is that the first hundred pages is super solid and engaging, and then the majority of the back half almost feel like she needed to pad it out to make it 'book size' including a chapter long description of the lives of people like Lindsay Lohan and Miley Cyrus and their rises and falls from grace.  It's a decent talking point, but we don't need a full chapter for stuff like that - and there's several examples of it through-out the back half of the book.
I found it to be a good read with solid information.  If the back-half were as strong as the front I'd easily recommend it, instead it's more about "is this your kind of thing?".  If you're the kind of person who wants to buy your kid the newest and hottest toy and puts them into pageants, this book is probably just going to go a long way in pissing you off.  But if you're a mother, you owe it to yourself to give this book a shot.  Pretty easy to get your hands on through the library.

1 comment:

Jennifer Bragg said...

I've been dying to read this book. It's only my list, but I kept borrowing books that I needed to get through first