I just finished reading a book called "Cinderella Ate My Daughter", written by Peggy Orenstein. The New York Times Bestselling book documents the authors struggle to raise a daughter who is self-confident and happy amid a world that encourages little girls to surround themselves in nothing but pink and tiaras while they dream of the fairy tale romance.
Is there something wrong with Cinderella? Is there something wrong with all the pink and glitter and fairy tale? Orenstein has done her research and clearly illustrates how society has created and pushed this Cinderella mentality.
It seems that wrong or right, these societal ideals and influences make companies money, so it doesn't look like things are going to change any time soon.
Studies show that young girls today face more pressure than ever to be "princess perfect". Not only do they have to get straight A's, but they have to be fashionable, beautiful and kind. They are exposed to media that makes them worry about being pretty and sexy, and a study from the University of Minnesota has even found that advertisements have a negative impact on girl's self-esteem.
I have been thinking a lot lately about the truth of all of this. I would hope that executives at Disney and Mattel don't sit around in their board meetings thinking of ways to sexualize young girls. But "princess perfect" sells and so it is naturally going to be pushed on our daughters.
Although society is targeting our young girls, we are still their parents, and responsibility lies on us. We want to blame the media, but ultimately, as parents, we do have a final say.
So how can we help? What can we as parents do to help our girls deal with the pink Cinderella pressure?
1. Watch what we say.
As parents, we need to make sure that our comments don't teach our girls that success and happiness is defined by how we look and what we wear. This applies to the comments we make about ourselves and our looks, as well as the comments we make about others.
2. Praise our girls for their strengths and effort.
This goes along with the first point. If you have a girl, monitor what you say to her in a 24 hour period. What is the focus of your comments? Naturally we comment on how cute they are, "you look so pretty", "I love your dress."
Instead of commenting on their looks, praise and comment on the effort they put into things and for the areas they are strong. Society will bombard them with feelings about clothes and looks. As parents we need to teach them they are strong and capable.
3. Give them challenges.
Provide challenges for our girls. Kids don't wake up and think "I am going to make myself do something hard today". We have to help provide them with challenges that they can overcome. This helps them believe in themselves and translates into future challenge. It builds their worth, based on their talents, abilities, and work ethic, instead of their looks and clothes. It also helps them keep a sense of reality.
4. Love them
Whether they like Cinderella or not. Keep your arms wide open at all times so that kids know they are loved.
Want to read Cinderella Ate my Daughter? You can follow Peggy on her Website, her Facebook page, and her Twitter account.
Do your girls feel the pressure to be a "pretty princess?
Do you think society pressures our girls?