Sunday, October 25, 2009

Essay on the article "What's wrong with Cinderella?" by Peggy Orenstein

I am pretty proud of this essay, even if it isn't very good. It is something I feel strongly about and wanted to put on my blog, so here it is.

Elaine Smith
College Composition 1
Assignment 4d critical analysis essay

The article “What’s Wrong with Cinderella?” by Peggy Orenstein, published in the New York Times has gotten a lot of attention on the web. Peggy Orenstein’s views are that of a feminist and a mother. In her article she writes about the princess industry, her own personal experiences as well as mentioning many sources and studies that have been done on the issue.

Peggy Orenstein writes that no evidence can be found to disprove what she has to say and I must agree with her. I have looked all over the internet trying to find something, anything that would give validation to my point of view; however, there don’t appear to be any. I understand that many feminists feel very strongly for what they believe; although I have never been a feminist, I too feel strongly for what I believe. So who is wrong and who is right? Does there really have to be a loser? Peggy Orenstein mentioned Tinker Bell, who is being marketed for the tween stage, ages 6-9 and although I do not agree with her belief that princesses are bad; I must admit that I did not like Tinker Bell when I first saw her. She is dressed too sexy, barely wearing anything at all. In the movie Tinker Bell, she seemed to have that I’m better than you attitude. Even as much as I disliked that little fairy, I could not keep my little girl from her. She loves ‘Tink’ and there is nothing I can or will do about it except to be a parent and talk to her about what kind of dress and behavior is acceptable and what isn’t. Yes I believe that the princess chain can have a negative effect on little girls. However, I also believe that if the child is brought up knowing that being a girl and playing with princess paraphernalia does not mean she is helpless and can’t do anything for herself, then she will be just fine.

Does wanting to be pretty and get married to a good guy really mean that a woman/girl is being degraded? Is it not possible to be pretty and married to your own prince as well as being a strong independent working woman? If playing dress up is wrong, why do so many adult women do it when they are preparing for a wedding? Or just out shopping for a ball gown to go dancing in? Why is being feminine such a bad thing? Out of all the articles I have read, from Peggy’s “What’s wrong with Cinderella?” to Etienne Benson with “Toy Stories” as well as Caryn Murphy’s “She might like to be a Veterinarian” and many more, I still have not found an answer that answers those questions. It seems as though the feminists of this century have run out of things to fight for and just want to knit pick every little thing they can.

I think that if everyone could calm down some, we would be able to see that each side has valid points. It is ok to dream of being rescued by a prince and swept off your feet to live happily ever after, when you’re 9 years old. But, with proper guidance you learn that life doesn’t usually work out that way. I always loved princesses when I was little, I still do. However, I know the difference between fantasy and reality. My daughter will know the same, but for now, she can decorate her room in pink frilly things and play with her princess dolls all she wants.

For some time now the girls toy market has been cornered by the Disney princess chain as well as some newer princesses that have jumped on the band wagon, as pointed out by Peggy Orenstein in her article. However, I tend to disagree with those studies. Yes, there are loads of princess items on the market, they fill up every pink aisle in a toy store. What about all those other toys in the store though? Anyone can go into a toy store and see that there is a very vibrant pink section and then there is the darker camo type section for the boys. Why is it that these stereotypes are around for both boys and girls and yet the only ones that seem to get any attention are the girls? The message I get from these feminists is that it is just fine to stereotype boys but don’t try to do it with girls.

The clear distinction between boys’ and girls’ toys in a toy store have never stopped me from going into the boy section and getting a model airplane or car and some modeling paint to put together with my dad. Why is it that just because something is labeled for a boy/girl then it is off limits for the opposite sex? Peggy says that there are no other options for girls than to play with pink princess stuff but I must disagree. The possibilities are limitless if you don’t place boundaries on your child. If you only let your child have toys that are labeled for that particular child, they will never be able to think outside the box and do anything different. A little girl playing dress up is considered normal behavior and therefore acceptable, put a little boy in the same situation and people tend to overreact and say something is wrong with that child. No one ever considered that that little boy could grow up to be the next Gucci or Calvin Klein or any of the other famous clothing designers. That is just an example of children being placed in gender roles. This has been going on since the beginning of time, it is nothing new. What do we do about it though? Feminists have come a long way; women are seen as equals with men, but I don’t believe that the gender wars will ever end.

This article has opened my eyes to the fact that there are LOTS of people who feel the same way this woman does. Princesses have to be evil and the cause of all our self esteem and sexual problems, it can’t possibly be the fault of the parents and how they raise said child. Peggy Orenstein is very opinionated in her article, she has some valid points as well as some good sources; but I still fail to understand her point of view, honestly I don’t think I ever will. Blaming an entire merchandise chain for parents’ inability to teach their young girls the difference between fantasy and reality will never solve anything, which is exactly what I think Peggy Orenstein did in her article “What is wrong with Cinderella?”

Works cited:

· Article: “What’s wrong with Cinderella?”
Author: Peggy Orenstein

· Article: “She Might like to be a Veterinarian”:Parents, parent companies, and the princess Movement
Author: Caryn Murphy-university of Wisconsin, Madison
May 06, 2008

· Wikipedia: Disney Princesses

· Article: “Toy Stories”
Author: Etienne Benson-the ObserverDec. 2006 Volume 19, Number 12

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