I've noticed it since Evie was born. They're everywhere....the Disney Princesses, Toddlers & Tiaras, padded bras in the girl's (for ages 5 - 10) section of Target... It seems like girls are expected to grow up so much more quickly these days. Even before Evie was born, I was amazed when I first started teaching by how much more mature the middle school girls seemed than when I was their age. Seriously, some of these girls had more cleavage at 13 than I had at 23!
Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein (HaperCollins, 2011) dives into the world of the "girlie-girl culture" that has overtaken the United States in the past decade. Orenstein give great statistics about the marketing of everything from toys to sexuality and how it affects girls as they grow up. This book was informative both as the mother of a daughter, as well as the teacher of teenage girls.
Orenstein is the mother of a school age daughter. She has written several books on girls' development, and became especially disturbed by the push for girls to become older at younger ages when her daughter developed an obsession with all things "princess." She questions whether or not the princess thing is even all that bad. After all, the Disney princesses (Cinderella, Ariel, Belle, Pocahontas, Snow White, etc.) are all "good" girls. However, they are all completely dependent on their man. The author points out that Ariel even gives up her own voice to get her man!
Orenstein also explores toy marketing, Toddlers & Tiaras (the TLC reality show about little girls in beauty pageants), young pop stars (Britney Spears both pre- and post-breakdown, Miley Cyrus, etc.), and the wonderful world of Facebook. In the 21st century there is so much more marketing to kids at younger and younger ages. What was popular with 13 year olds in 2000, is what's popular for 8 year olds in 2011.
As a mom, this book mostly scared me. The author gives great facts, but is scarce on how to face these problems. It is true that girls are usually pigeon-holed into one of two categories: the girly-girl, or the tomboy, but I didn't feel like there are any great suggestions as to how to combat this. The author struggles with how to get her daughter to just be herself. I think that's something that most parents battle.
In the end, Orenstein's own daughter outgrows the princess phase and moves on to other obsessions, as most kids usually do. I would recommend this book for anyone who is interested in learning facts about marketing and its effects on children, especially girls. More than anything, this book has made me more aware of all of the girly-ness out there.