Pink happens to be my favorite color and has been since my first Strawberry Shortcake doll. Pierce Mattie himself on the other hand finds it at times a little offensive. To me, it represents femininity and beauty. Others may now associate it with breast cancer initiatives while some now even associate it with the sexualization of young girls. In Peggy Orenstein's book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture, she discusses how from an early age girls are marketed to in a way that tells them “how a girl looks matters more than who she is.” Some would argue this is true, especially those on the cusp of Gen X and Gen Y.
In recent years I've heard more people opposed to giving their daughters a Barbie because they feel she represents something unattainable rather than simply being a doll. (As a child this never even crossed my mind, I loved Barbie simply because she was cool.) In college I remember a Sociology class I took that focused on women and how the media depicts how our roles should be in society; the professor called it the “Upstairs Downstairs effect.” One of the things we had to study were Disney films and list the commonalities among the princesses or lead females in each animated movie. The female, she argued, was relaying to girls at an early age that this is what society expects of them–be physically attractive, be flirty, seek perfection and know your role in a relationship. I definitely saw the pattern, which is what Cinderella Ate My Daughter is trying to point out; not merely Disney princesses, but how this is seeded through all aspects of childhood by the media and toy makers.
And if you think about it for a minute, how else do we tell child stars to make a successful transition from bubble gum to adult? They're told to sex it up. Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Miley Cyrus anyone? Our tabloids blast any star who shows even an ounce of cellulite. And who lands on the covers of magazine with positive PR spin? Only the super attractive. What does that tell our daughters?
You could say that Orenstein's book portrays pink washing as not only deceptive marketing when it comes to breast cancer, but gives it new meaning as the downfall of sexualization in our children. Have you read this book? What do you think?