Cinderella and Princess Culture

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As Peggy Orenstein’s three year-old daughter entered the “princess phase,” Orenstein became increasingly frustrated. As a feminist, she worried about the negative effects the princess obsession would have on her daughter and other young girls in their futures. In “Cinderella and Princess Culture,” Orenstein sets out to discuss these effects. She discovers that although it seems as if this princess craze is creating negative gender stereotypes at an early age, maybe princess enthusiasts are really benefitting from their obsession. Orenstein has gotten accustomed to adults assuming her daughter likes pink and princesses. For example, at Longs Drugs, the woman gives Orenstein’s daughter a pink balloon rather than letting her choose the color she wants, and Orenstein lets it slide. At the dentist, Orenstein is so fed up, when the dentist asks her daughter to “sit in the princess throne” so she can “sparkle her teeth,” she finally snaps (326). Her daughter, surprised by Orenstein’s reaction, wonders what is wrong with princesses. Orenstein then sets out to explore the possible answers to her daughter’s question. The princess “trend,” Orenstein tells us, has taken over the media, jumping from $300 million in revenue in 2001, to $3 billion in revenue in 2007, with Disney producing over 25,000 princess-related items, which she finds overwhelming. The princess craze, however is not limited to Disney as Orenstein learns; it also expands to Barbies, Dora, and Club Libby Lu. Orenstein worries how this craze will affect gender stereotyping because she thinks maybe this preoccupation will “undermine girls’ well being” and be “perilous to their [the parents] daughters’ mental and physical health” (327). But then again, she realizes maybe this obsession is a “sign of progress” (328). Maybe instead of weakening a girl’s mental health, it is in fact strengthening it, as girls can

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