Cinderella Ate My Daughter, Review and Giveaway

This week’s review and giveaway is written by 5 Minutes for Books staff reviewer Dawn.

Just like a moth to the streetlight, the cover of the book I was reading caught my daughter’s attention, and she was immediately lured in. The overwhelming pinkness, the wand in the little girl’s hand, and the actual glitter shimmering away on the cover instigated a high-pitched squeal of “Awwww! Your book is SOOOOO pretty!”

Oh, the irony.

In case you haven’t heard, Peggy Orenstein’s book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter is the new “it” parenting book, sparking stories and conversations from NPR to my local playground. Orenstein delves into the myriad of factors that have helped to create the current “girlie-girl culture” in which we parents find ourselves raising our daughters. Media and marketing moves that influence what our children are exposed to are explored, and Orenstein not only acts as a journalist who helps to unveil the facts, but also as a mother who is trying to find an comfortable (or least uncomfortable) path to navigate through this culture with her own daughter.

As I read this book- I should say devoured– I found that I couldn’t put my highlighter and pencil down, because my mind was exploding with reactions that needed to be recorded. (As a result, my copy has an entire volume of my own words in the margins. A bonus I figure, for anyone to whom I loan it.) In addition to being thought-provoking, Orenstein’s writing is professional but personal, factual yet comfortable to read. By the end of the book I felt like she was someone I’d love to chat with in the elementary school parking lot at pickup time. Orenstein doesn’t present herself as a having all the answers, but she does a fabulous job posing the questions that are worthy of our own individual considerations.

Of all the specific passages from the book that make incredible “sound bites” worth noting, this one is undoubtedly my favorite:

It would be disingenuous to claim that Disney Princess diapers or Ty Girlz or Hannah Montana or Twilight or the latest Shakira video or a Facebook account is inherently harmful. Each is, however, a cog in the round-the-clock, all-pervasive media machine aimed at our daughters– and at us– from womb to tomb; one that, again and again, presents femininity as performance, sexuality as performance, identity as performance, and each of those traits as available for a price. It tells girls that how you look is more important than how you feel. More than that, it tells them that how you look is how you feel, as well as who you are. Meanwhile, the notion that we parents are sold, that our children are “growing up faster” than previous generations, that they are more mature and sophisticated in their tastes, more savvy in their consumption, and that there is nothing we can (or need) do about it is– what is the technical term again?– oh yes: a load of crap.

Seriously, how can you resist someone who penned that brilliance?

Cinderella Ate My Daughter is a must read book for any parent of a daughter, and is the latest entry on our 5 Star Reads list. Orenstein articulately voices the universal hopes parents have for their little girls, and she presents the wide variety of factors that challenge our girls’ healthy development. Regardless of whether or not you already have a solid pro or con position on the “princessy world” our girls are growing up in, this is a book worth reading.

We have three copies of Cinderella Ate My Daughter to give away! Leave one comment here to be entered, U.S. residents only, please. We’ll announce the winners on March 7.

Like books? Check out our current giveaways. Subscribe to our feed. Follow us @5M4B on Twitter.

5 Minutes for Books staff reviewer Dawn’s own four year old daughter is probably wearing all pink at this very moment, inspiring her very non-girlie-girl mother to shake her head in wonder. Parenting, books and lots of other randomness make up her blog, my thoughts exactly.


  1. Kimberly says

    I would love to read this book. Orenstein was part of my “Gender in Education” curriculum in grad school. Now that I have a two year old daughter, I’d love to read Orwnstein’s thoughts on the princess culture that seems to pervade most preschool girls’s years.

  2. says

    I heard an interview with the author on NPR recently and would love to read this book — esp. since my 6 year old is enthralled with all things princess!

  3. MIndi says

    I’ll comment because I am curious enough to read the book, would love to win it:)
    I’m not sure I buy it just yet and my skepticism is, again, part of the reason I want to read it. I don’t deny that there is a princess culture (even an entitlement culture which irks me even more) but, here is the rub for me, why is it a crime for little girls to like sparkly things? I ask this because, I love sparkly things and I grew up about as far from a girlie culture as you can get. Two brothers, a neighborhood full of boys, no playgrounds- just woods but wow was I enchanted when I would find geodes in the forest. Anyone who teaches with me knows I put glitter in everythng. I’m wearing sparkly nail polish as I write this. I hope this is addressed in the book and I want to know more. I want to compare this too our fear of violent crimes- is there really a surge? Or are we just more aware of crime because of the Internet, constant news, papers, list serves? Is this really different from ads in the back of comic books back in the fifties? So many questions:)

    • says

      Hey Mindi- thanks for your comment, I appreciate your questions! I think you’ll be pleased to find that Orenstein does not demonize these types of interest that you mention, at all, but she’s more focused on what is represented by the products and media that’s marketed toward children… I’d love to know what you think if you do read the book!

  4. Dara says

    This book in on my MUST READ list as I am getting ready to bring a daughter into the world…and because I diligently returned/exchanged every item of clothing she got with the word “Princess” on it.

  5. Alison S. says

    We’re expecting our second child. If it’s a girl, I would love this book for myself, if not, I would love to pass it on to my sister in law for her daughter.

  6. Tracy Robertson says

    I have recently heard of this book before and it sounds so interesting! I would love to read it and learn more about the princess culture that claiming all women, from our daughters to our mothers.

  7. Deborah says

    I don’t mean to be offensive but I really like “dress up” and don’t want to tell a kid what they should “dress up” as.

    • says

      Deborah, I don’t think you’re being offensive at all, and honestly, that’s not the message Orenstein is giving with her book, whatsoever. If anything, it’s the companies making some great money off the huge number of dress up products on the market that are making the decisions for girls. If left to her own devices, my own daughter is thrilled to dress up in “non-licensed-character” fancy clothes than the $25 Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty dress we could buy at Target. :)

  8. Lina Diaz says

    I first learned about Orenstein and her book when I read an interview on parents magazine and got to say it made me so happy to finally find someone that agreed with me about the pink/girlie-girl/princess fad that is affecting little girls nowdays. I have a 4 month old daughter and during my whole pregnancy I pretty much had to ask everyone around me to keep the princess title and wardrobe away from my unborn baby, and usually the response was like saying “you’re not normal”. the battle still continues, and is getting harder, so I definitely need to read this book asap to add some more powerful points to my ongoing battle. Lol

  9. Lina Diaz says

    Ohh! And by the way I forgot to say to Dawn that I wish the giveaway book was her own copy so I could have the extra bonus of all her side notes! 😉

    • says

      HA! Well, Lina, a friend has my copy right now, and she was already giggling when I passed it to her, because it seemed like many a highlighter went to an early demise in the reading of the book! :)
      -Dawn, 5M4B

  10. Peggy says

    I have the book, loved it and have been recommending it to everyone… my copy has a waiting list! If i win a book, I’ll give it to one of my friends to read and pass on as well. :-)

    • says

      That’s awesome, Peggy, and something I absolutely understand, too! I’m happy that a couple friends have also decided to purchase their own copies, and another did for the parent library in the school where she works!

  11. says

    I only wish there were books like this when my oldest daughter was born. My youngest daughter is so caught up with names mentioned, it drives me crazy. I really want to read this one; I can only imagine how hilarious it is.

  12. says

    I would LOVE to read this book. I have heard so much about it and I have twin daughters….this is on my wish list! Thanks so much for the opportunity to win this great book.

  13. Maureen says

    Would love to win this book – it sounds like an interesting read.

    Thanks, Maureen (jnomaxx at hotmail dot com)

  14. says

    This page iswhere I got the most useful info for my information gathering. nice one for leaving, maybe we can see more on this. Are you aware of any other websites on this subject?

  15. says

    I am going through my mother-in-laws’s favorite sites on her computer today and came across this site. (she died Nov. 11 of liver cancer at 55) She was my best friend and was like-minded as we discussed raising my 3 little girls, her granddaughters, overwhelmed by media’s influence on their feminity. I am about to teach some mom’s of daughters through a series of raising our daughters and this looks like and excellent resource! I’m so thankful that, even though she’s gone, she left me with this invaluable resource :-)

    • says

      Missi–What a beautiful story. I’m proud to say that you are one of our winners. You should have a message from me asking for your shipping info.

      I hope that this book will remind you of her.

  16. Sandra says

    I found Peggy Orenstein’s book as I was gathering materials to write a research paper on the impact that classic fairy tales have on children, especially our girls. I had finished reading the chapter all about PINK late one evening when I decided to turn in for the night. The very next day as I sat before my 21 first graders ready to start the school day I noticed that all, yes all of my girls were dressed in pink… too funny! Everyone who has a child’s best interest and emotional well-being at heart needs to read this book.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *