Sugar and Spice?

Monday, February 28, 2011

For many young girls of a certain age, everything has to be pink, sparkly, and preferably accompanied by a tiara. Peggy Orenstein, journalist and author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture, asks whether princess-mania is a developmental stage or a marketing-induced craze.


Peggy Orenstein

Comments [21]

obscurelyvague from New York

I doubt that any incident in which a young girl "automatically wants" girly clothes and toys, means an "inherent nature" of all girls. Adults often don't see how much of a part they play in stereotyping children.
I once saw a man with a boy of about two years of age (whom was probably the man's son) looking at a store window and telling the child to pick a toy and when the boy pointed to a certain toy, the man said "Don't pick that! It's pink. Pink is for girls." This is an act of inculcating a child with a sense of shame, or inappropriateness, or a sense of disappointing his parent for having any interest in colors not traditionally associated with his gender. The child, starting at a young age would then reject anything pink or "girly." The boy's father could then boast that his very young son already has an inherent sense of being a male.
Also, I once saw a mother yelling at her daughter ( whom was approximately 10 years old) in a store because the girl was interested in trying on boy's clothing.

I actually don't believe much in the "Free to Be You and Me" logic in which parents were told to give dolls to boys so boys can be more docile. Sports and activities are important to boys. I do think that girls' are kept from embracing their natural rough side more than boys are kept from being gentle. In the wild, even young female monkeys and other animals play rough and learn to fight, and run, and fend for themselves. Human females are abnormally submissive and passive and it is due to cultural ways, not nature's ways. After all, there have been research into the lives of young girls and a majority of them have been found to do things like mutilate their dolls so as to pretend to be morticians, or surgeons (possibly because some girls are taught to believe that in real life, a girl cannot become a mortician or surgeon) , or pretend to torture their baby dolls so as to pretend to harm other girls whom they don't like. Society has to stop idealizing sugar and spice in girls so much. It is holding girls and women from social advancement.

Apr. 09 2011 12:25 PM
Carol Holyoke from Washington Heights

I would like to put a shout out for the heroines in Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz and the series of books that follow. Dorothy has become a favorite dress up character of many little girls, but most kids only know her through the movie. Dorothy is a character who is full of pluck and courage. We read the full series of books to my daughter at age 5 and she couldn't get enough. She especially loved Princess Ozma, the true ruler of Oz, who always comes in to save the day. She and Dorothy work together to overcome dastardly villains and tough situations. They are empowering female characters, and a good antidote to the passive Disney princesses. And FYI, Frank Baum was a big supporter of the suffragette movement in his time.

Feb. 28 2011 12:12 PM

Really, a non-issue. All made up to sell books and make parents worry about NOTHING. Who cares? Some like pink, some like green, some like pink dinosaurs--is this really something to stress about?

The Truth from Becky: You are spot-on!

Feb. 28 2011 12:07 PM
Ruth Aranov from brian Lehrer

Leave your daughters be what they feel happy with. These overly anxious mothers are doing the same as the ones that pushed pink, girlish
and whatever more.

Feb. 28 2011 12:02 PM
The Truth from Becky

Pink and sparkly is ok, more serious concerni is domestic violence, occurring in younger ages groups so we really need to teach them to recognize controlling behaviours and negative aggression in boys!

Feb. 28 2011 12:01 PM
Truth is... from these girls will be just fine!

have no fear

Feb. 28 2011 11:59 AM
JT from LI

I know my 5 year old son was impressed when Princess Leia had to take over and help her "rescuers" in Star Wars. Are there any strong female characters in kid's entertainment today or are they mostly helpless chars that have to look nice?

Feb. 28 2011 11:58 AM

On the other hand, my 10 year old gets a lot of push back from her peers who tell her she's too girly and want to push her to be more "goth", wear trendy "ed Hardy" and skull motifs. I object to anyone (including me) telling her what she SHOULD like. While she's always loved the Princess bit, she spent the weekend playing with Legos AND Polly Pocket.

Feb. 28 2011 11:57 AM
art525 from park slope

The author complains about how this princess thing is indoctrinating into commercialism. In the very next breath she talks about how she has some information on her website that you don't have to pay for. I assume there is other stuff you do have to pay for. I can't help but think that she realized she was on to a money maker.

Feb. 28 2011 11:57 AM
kp from nj

Just one look at an episode of 'Bride-zillas' and you can see that this trend comes to no good.....

Feb. 28 2011 11:57 AM

These girls will be just fine.
The mom's who are concerned need to get a life.maybe get a job

Feb. 28 2011 11:56 AM
MP from Brooklyn

I often see little girls going out to play in a frilly pink tutu AND jeans (worn together) - I love what this represents - I'm a girly girl, but I can still play rough!

Feb. 28 2011 11:56 AM
Steve from Englewood

Just curious; do any of these girls have brothers about the same age living at home? Just never saw this in households with brothers and sisters around the same age.

Feb. 28 2011 11:53 AM
Magnus Westergren from manhattan

About pink being a girl color: it is true that pink has traditionally been a boy color; however, evolutionary biology has conclusively proven that girl preferences for red stems from our hunting and gathering past, as women were the ones seeking out red-colored fruits and berries.

Feb. 28 2011 11:51 AM

I am transgendered. What does your analysis say about people of both sexes (or neither)?

Feb. 28 2011 11:51 AM
Gen from Tribeca

a few years ago when my youngest was 2 and older was 4 1/2, I saw a neighbor and got into a conversation about princess' and Disney and very full of myself announced "We don't do princesses. If it comes in the house, I just throw it out". I then, literally, walked in my front door and my little one said "Mama! I a princess!!!". She went on to wear nothing but skirts, dresses and sparkly head bands for two years. Now, at 5, I can't get her into a dress or skirt. She will only wear jeans & t-shirts. We went with it and it ended. We still have never been to Disneyworld and I think that's all right too.

Feb. 28 2011 11:49 AM
Max from Brooklyn

As a young woman who was always a bit of a tomboy, I have a single phrase solution for this cultural epidemic: Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Buffy is kind of a princess, but she kicks butt! She is a girl's girl, but is stronger than any dude around. She's comfortable being single, and she doesn't need a prince to come and rescue her - she often rescues the prince!

We need more powerful, leadership roles for female characters in pop culture, to get away from Disney's princess archetype. There's nothing that says that you can't be a princess AND a badass.

Feb. 28 2011 11:48 AM

NOT AGAIN! Enough of her and this CRAP!

Feb. 28 2011 10:02 AM

wait a couple years your kid will move past it and disney too.

one trick is to prohibit the disney channel. the main thing is finding alternative obsessions. but if they take to pink, so be it, enjoy

Feb. 28 2011 09:51 AM

Disney ™ generation

Feb. 17 2011 08:50 AM
sumukha from Short Hills, NJ

If this craze has something to do with marketing too, then how far back does this marketing pink to girls/women go, from Ms Orenstein's research. I recently heard of a 1950 TV ad promoting pink to women. Before TV came into our houses are there documentary evidence for this. thanks

Feb. 17 2011 07:39 AM

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