That’s the title of New York Times journalist Peggy Orenstein’s new book. I have not read it yet but am looking forward to it after reading a review, “Female desire and the princess culture.” Basically the book details how the color pink and toys such as baby dolls became gendered toward girls.
Not surprisingly, such intense marketing can have a negative effect. As Orenstein says, “Segregated toys discourage cross-sex friendships. … This is a public health issue. It becomes detrimental to relationships, to psychological health and well-being, when boys and girls don’t learn how to talk to one another…Part of the reason we have the divorce rates we do, domestic violence dating violence, stalking behaviors, sexual harassment is because the lack of ability to communicate between men and women.”
She also pionts out that this “princess” culture is being directed at girls precisely when their brains are growing and most vulnerable–ages 2-6. Ideas and images embedded then are likely to last a lifetime. And if variety is the spice of life, girls’ lives run the risk of being bland if they aren’t exposed to many different colors and toys.
I don’t necessarily think your daughter is at a disadvantage if she’s been around princess culture. I myself spent part of my childhood in a pink-and-purple bedroom playing with Barbies and My Little Ponies, but I didn’t turn out to be much of a girlie girl. That may be because I spent a larger part of my childhood buried in books, so I’ve always loved words and knew I wanted them to be part of my adult life. However, not every girl knows she can be an astrophysicist or civil engineer instead of traditionally feminized jobs such as a nurse or teacher.
“It’s not that pink is intrinsically bad, it is such a tiny slice of the rainbow,” Orenstein says. Indeed. So if you know a little girl, go out of your way to give her a green sweater or an astronomy book or a chemistry set. Make sure she has every opportunity to learn about all the different choices she has.