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on 20 February 2012
This is an enjoyable and entertaining read by a writer who conveys passion and conviction for her cause. Orenstein is a journalist rather than an academic (and her style reflects that), but she's done her homework and there are some fascinating and really interesting points made throughout the text.

As someone with a professional interest in gender studies I was keen to get my hands on a copy once it came out. So, one morning last week, the delivery arrives - and ripping open the Amazon packet excitedly I take in the front cover. The artwork is delightful, albeit of course ironic with its glitter appliqué, but this excitement is quickly tempered when one notes the low quality of paper the publisher has used. Maybe I'm a book snob but I felt the paper took the work down-market in a way that kinda does the content an injustice. *Just saying guys*.

So - to the text:

The author draws on her experience of raising a daughter in the 21st century to illustrate concerns that trouble many of us with pro-feminist values. It's as if there is some kind of backlash against the whole 1980's 'dungarees and crew-cut' image of second wave feminism that had ordinary women recoiling in horror and making sure their daughters would become 'proper girls' (ie: not lesbians) - and as if to make the point the definition of girl-approved identities suddenly becomes strangled in pink tulle, as girls are schooled in the notion of looking pretty and attracting a handsome prince.

Orenstein explores the images and imagoes that our daughters are exposed to and reminds us that the whole 'pink' thing, where malls and toy-shops become gender delineated by strict colour ways is actually a relatively new phenomenon: back in our generation yes girls were coached in the ways of becoming proper house-wives and encouraged to play with dolls but there were also gender neutral toys like Lego (which sadly more recently succumbed to the whole 'girl-market=pink/lilac" zeitgeist). As she points out, play was more open, more creative and less fixed by script or branded characterisation. If you wanted to be Cinderella or Snow White, mum had to make the costume on the Singer sewing machine or you adapted pieces from the dressing up box and pretended.

Any analysis of the social meta-messages pummeled into young girls these days has to consider the pre-sexualisation of girl's bodies and the notion of the female body as a commodity: and this is a theme that is weaved throughout the text. There is an interesting chapter looking at the child beauty pageant, and the family Orenstein highlights in the text have to balance the emphasis on how 'beautiful [and normal]' their daughter is in contrast with their son who has severe disabilities: it's a poignant narrative. In another particularly thought-provoking chapter, "Just between you, me, and my 622 BFF's", Orenstein explores the use and impact of social networking, and offers the notion that having 622 'friends' is in a sense to have created a quasi-audience for the pseudo-celebrity performance of the [gendered] self. She is right to raise the concern as the feedback from the peer group has the tendency to reiterate dominant [hetero-normative] messages and stifle individuality -particularly within teen peer groups where fitting in is often at the cost of expressing the true self.

I do have some disquiets with this book (cheap paper aside) - I felt the use of promotional quotes at the start of the book was a little over-done - this book doesn't need a hard sell, its value can stand in its own right and again it started to put me off - why the need to shout so loud if the book is that good: surely I'll work that out a few pages in. That's a publisher issue I suspect. *just saying guys* . And, there are places where the author's natural ebullience and irreverent tone jar a little and in a couple of instances I suggest, slipped towards the distasteful (in particular here, I'm thinking of her reference to the David Reimer case by way of example, or in her reference to Lindsey Lohan)

We might wonder who the book will appeal to: academics may find it lacking in gravitas but then it is written for a broad audience and needs to follow a different convention. Parents of daughters of course is the primary audience but I suggest that these will split into two - those who collude unquestioningly with these constraining norms, who don't consider the subtle but powerful messages influencing the mindset of the next generation of women (a generation more concerned than ever about youthful looks and impossibly unattainable physical ideals), and those parents whose own feminist beliefs has had them pushing Tonka toys into the hands of their daughters in desperation (for whom this book will no doubt resonate powerfully - albeit we are preaching to the converted here).

In writing this review I wanted to summarize my experience of reading the book by likening it to Big Mac and fries. It has a very American feel to it and the tone can feel a little brash on this side of the pond. That said, I enjoyed it. McDonald's don't make an outstanding burger but what they produce is consistently good enough to meet a particular market. I hope its not unkind to suggest that what Orenstein offers has that same broad market appeal and it's not pretending to be academic any more than McD claims to be haute-cuisine. This book adds a worthy voice of concern to the way we raise girls and for these reasons I offer a 4 star rating and hope others will be encouraged to give consideration to the points raised in this work.

grrlAlex - author, academic and social activist
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on 3 September 2013
This book comes from the perspective of a life-long feminist who is also a mother to a daughter, two roles which are at times difficult to reconcile. This is precisely the reason why Cinderella Ate My Daughter is such an important book. My problem with some feminist books is that they can be a bit abstract and quite theoretical. Orenstein avoids this problem by speaking directly about her own experiences and being frank about the conflicting feelings she feels as a mother and as a feminist. She combines myriad examples with research and her own experiences while providing guidance for mothers who may find themselves in the same Cinderella-dominated world for young girls. This is one of my favourite feminist books and it's definitely changed the way I view gender socialization and the problems that young girls face. Don't be deceived by the deep topic matter: this is very easy to read and I had a hard time putting it down.
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on 5 March 2013
This is a really entertaining and academic book about the prevalence of girly culture.

This book is really well written as points are intelligently made and well researched but also at times anecdotal and humourously put, so it was also a very easy read.

Something I found particularly great about this book was the discussions of the 90's and the girl power movement, (which I have to admit made me a little nostalgic), the disney princesses and the overwhelming amount of pink in girls products.

There is also some good advice in negotiating ideas of gender with small children with some great examples of problems she had when her little girl was growing up.

If you are interested in feminism and the current ideas of femininity that are presented to children, I would really recommend this book
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on 8 February 2015
An accessible and sometimes amusing story of one mother's dawning horror at the pink and girly world awaiting her daughter. Funny and intelligent, but also contains useful facts and research.
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on 25 February 2014
This book arrived in good time and I finished it within the evening. It is OK for light reading and makes a couple of good points about the "every little girl is now a princess" theme. However, if you remove the word "princess", I have already almost all of this material in Natasha Walters' "Living Dolls" and Diane E. Levin's "So Sexy So Soon". It was OK but I wouldn't particularly recommend it. There was nothing of enough substance in there to make me return for another read.
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on 13 June 2013
This both is engaging, perceptive and an interesting read. If you're interested in media, feminism, opinion or that kind of thing it's a worthwhile buy.
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on 20 February 2015
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on 6 January 2015
My daughter loved it
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on 16 July 2013
It was an interesting read. I borrowed it from the library and I'm glad I did that rather than purchase it. At first I found this book fascinating, particularly the sections on how boys and girls develop and relate to each other. However, towards the end I felt the author's point was becoming a little repetitive. I also wouldn't say it was the most objective book I've read.

I was anti everything for girls being pink already but I hadn't appreciated the extent of clever marketing on young girls. This book is definitely worth a read but I wouldn't rave about it.
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VINE VOICEon 13 December 2012
I am fairly confident that I'm the type of person who is the intended audience for this book! I am attracted to feminist books, have wariness as regards this entire pink/fairy/princess phenomenon AND I have a young daughter.

CAMD is a good blend of psychology/ sociology / journalism and personal experience. Orrenstein uses her experiences with her own daughter as a way in to discuss areas such as toys, film and music and beauty pageants. As Orrenstein is American, some of the things she discusses are peculiar to the USA, for example I had never heard of the `American Girl' dolls, but there is enough explanation and are enough UK equivalents that her arguments and ideas do not alienate a UK audience.

The chapter on junior beauty pageants, which I strongly oppose, was sensitively handled and attempted to give and even-handed perspective on why they might not be all bad (she didn't persuade me though!!) I also enjoyed the chapter in which she looks at fairy tales and the wisdom (or not) of reading them to your children in their original and grisly form.

On the whole interesting but lacking in any definite and strong opinions or views, so it came across as the musings of a confused parent. After all that debate it would seem that neither of us are any the wiser, or not much anyway
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