Barbie Ate My Daughter
I love a good princess movie - many of the classics even have a good message for young minds. But far beyond what the princess movies ever did, current marketing campaigns are driving a girlie-girl movement which is defining what being a female means to millions of young girls (and boys). I recently listened to a podcast on NPR's KUOW where Peggy Orenstein talked about her book Cinderella Ate My Daughter. She points out how girls are being taught to value material objects and looking pretty over individuality. Apparently "tween" is now 5-8 yr olds and is a hot market - it's the fastest growing market for things like makeup. There are lots of "pink" versions of classic board games - "girls" toys & games everywhere are splattered with shopping symbolism, high heels, cell phones, makeup, spas, and being "spoiled" or a "brat". Girl science kits are things like how to make lip gloss while boy science kits tackle things like physics and weather. This hits home for me because I have one very prissy princess that's all about looking cute. I have to constantly remind her that while it's fun to look cute sometimes, that doesn't define you and what you're capable of. Of course, being only four, she doesn't get that yet... but after listening to that podcast, it really reminded me the things I have to filter from my girls. I don't plan to completely eliminate the pink princess overload, but I definitely will work harder at balancing that image with a more empowered view that girls aren't just pretty things. Being a female techie, I know all about gender stereotypes, but I'm afraid that my daughters' generation will have an even harder uphill battle due to the new, improved obsession with appearance, not to mention the alarming "dumbing down" of our girls.
If you have young children in your life (our little boys are getting the message too), I highly recommend listening to learn more about how marketing (including a $4 billion Disney Princess franchise) is widening the divide of what it means to be a girl and what it means to be a boy in America. Listen on your computer here: http://www.kuow.org/program.php?id=26159 or stream the podcast from the NPR mobile app > Seattle's station KUOW.
Also, check out www.CinderellaAteMyDaughter.com for ideas on toys and games that have a positive female message or get the book here: Cinderella Ate My Daughter.