I just finished a book every parent should read: Cinderella Ate My Daughter. It is a fascinating story/study that delves into what the princess culture has done to young girls and what we, as parents, can do about it.
I love so many things about the book (and disagree with a few small bits and find a few points a little over the top), but what I love most is that the author doesn't pretend to have all the answers or profess that she has done things correctly with her own daughter; she merely lays out the facts and the studies and brainstorms with her readers what can be done to empower girls to be concerned with more than being skinny, popular, rich, famous, and beautiful.
I don't have girls, but I want to raise boys who have kind and loving relationships with girls and women throughout their entire lives. I want sons who see women as equals, who respect them for their minds and for their potential and who appreciate all types of beauty in its many forms. This book was a fantastic insight into how I can help them become more prepared for these types of mutually fulfilling relationships.
At times, it also allowed me to delve deeper into my own self and what I value. The book was published a few years ago, so you will find a few pop culture and media references out of date, but the message is still absolutely applicable. In the chapter on social media and how it is affecting girls (and women), I found a quote I loved that contained a poignant warning regarding how social media is changing how girls (and women) develop themselves from the outside in instead of the inside out:
While this book is not a beach read, it is an important one. The research is presented in an easy story format that keeps readers engaged, so it stays enjoyable. You may not agree with everything (perhaps especially if you have your own girls), but it is worth picking up and evaluating where you stand and trying to do better.
Goodreads.com summary: Sweet and sassy or predatory and hardened, sexualized girlhood influences our daughters from infancy onward, telling them that how a girl looks matters more than who she is. Somewhere between the exhilarating rise of Girl Power in the 1990s and today, the pursuit of physical perfection has been recast as the source of female empowerment. And commercialization has spread the message faster and farther, reaching girls at ever-younger ages. But how dangerous is pink and pretty, anyway? Being a princess is just make-believe; eventually they grow out of it . . . or do they?
In search of answers, Peggy Orenstein visited Disneyland, trolled American Girl Place, and met parents of beauty-pageant preschoolers tricked out like Vegas showgirls. The stakes turn out to be higher than she ever imagined. From premature sexualization to the risk of depression to rising rates of narcissism, the potential negative impact of this new girlie-girl culture is undeniable—yet armed with awareness and recognition, parents can effectively counterbalance its influence in their daughters' lives