Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches From The Frontlines

Cinderella Will NOT Eat My Goddaughter, My Nieces--or 
My Sons or Nephews. 
Are You With Me? Or With Cindy?

"There is ample evidence that the more mainstream media girls consume, 
the more
they partake in the media junk culture, the more importance they
place on being
pretty and sexy, and a ream of studies show that teenage girls
and college students
who hold conventional beliefs about beauty and femininity,
especially those that
emphasize beauty and pleasing behavior – are less ambitious,
and more likely to
be depressed and to make poor sexual choices (including not
requiring their partners
to wear condoms) than their peers. That’s terrifying."
-Peggy Orenstein, speaking with me on AMBITION Radio
Yesterday was my goddaughter's 6-year-old birthday. 

I spent a ton of time in recent weeks doing research on great books, toys, and
gifts to shower her with on her special day. As I was perusing  sites like
(“Expert-Selected Toys Matched to a Child’s Development”),  I was not at all surprised –
but was annoyed and disappointed – to find categories by gender. 

Boys Versus Girls: Why?
Searching through “Toys for 6 Year Old Girls” and “Toys for 6 Year Old Boys” yielded 
very different recommendations.
A super cool-looking “Spy Night Scope,” a “Shrinky Dinks Insects” kit, and an “MLB Multi-Position 
Batting Tee”
were served up for the boys.  
Spy-Gear Spy Night Scope
A “Brain Noodles – Princess & Frog Kit” (WT? This hurts my brain on so many levels), a
“Shrinky Dinks Jewelry”
kit, and a “Paint Your Own Bathroom Set” were among the top
recommended picks for girls. There was even
a “Hooded Princess Cape” set, complete
with a silver magic wand and the caption, “Who’s afraid of the big,
bad wolf?” categorized
under – get this – “Fun Learning, Child Development, Educational Toys” for girls.
(Not to
mention, last time I checked, Little Red Riding Hood’s cape was RED, not pink, but I digress.)
Creative-Education Hooded Princess Cape

The Socially Sanctioned Message is Clear

Painting your own ceramic bathroom set, or fantasizing about kissing the right frog to become a
princess – and
making jewelry for that encounter – is SO much more fun than swinging a bat, or
playing dark-of-the-night spy,
or crafting cool insects – IF you’re a girl. (The rules of the world
are different for boys.)

The Dark Side of Pink and Pretty 

Searching for great gifts for my young goddaughter's impending birthday, I was reminded
of a recent AMBITION Is Not A Dirty Word Radio
show I did with an old friend and colleague from
my San Francisco years, Peggy Orenstein, author of the
New York Times bestseller,
Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of The New Girlie-Girl Culture.

Peggy Orenstein is an acclaimed journalist and author of the groundbreaking bestseller Schoolgirls
who, as a new mother, was blindsided by the persistent ultra-feminine messages being sent to a
new generation of little girls—from endless permutations of pink to pressures to be “a hot tot” and
a “spoiled brat princess.”

When Orenstein published an essay in The New York Times Magazine about the “princess-mania”
that has overtaken a new generation of little girls, she was not prepared for a firestorm. But
What’s Wrong with Cinderella?” swiftly shot to the top of the Times website’s “most emailed”
list and elicited hundreds of reader responses.

Orenstein, who had garnered a reputation as an expert on girls’ development, thought she was
simply musing about her own observations and reactions to her young daughter’s obsession
with Disney princesses and predilection for the color pink. Clearly, though, she had touched
a cultural nerve.

Fight For A Focus on Girls' Sense of Self from The Inside

What does it do to girls’ ambition to grow up in a culture that pressures them, from a
very young age, to define their sense of self according to a junk culture’s ideals and from
the outside in, rather than from the inside? Whether you're shopping for books or toys,
or, channel surfing. are slapped with a preview of "Toddlers and Tiaras" or "Jersey Shore,"
the junk culture assaults and threatens to make you/us feel helpless to do anything to force
a course correction. 

We do not have to stand helplessly by, shaking our heads at what's out there: on television,
social media, in print, in stores, being served up by the junk culture. We can spot, confront,
interpret, and defy the pernicious messages flooding our kids. We can help them reclaim
what it means to grow up in a meaningful way with an eye on making the contribution
they were born to make -- according to what matters to them as individuals, rather than
being distracted or derailed by the junk culture. (Enough already.)

But we must be conscious of socially sanctioned cultural messages and assumptions,
swirling about us, mindlesslessly sucking in us and our children.

Wake-Up Call – And What To Do About It, Starting Today

My AMBITION Radio show with Peggy Orenstein reveals the dark side of pink and pretty in
a wake-up call to parents: The rise of the girlie girl is not that innocent. Grab a glass of
pink lemonade and tune in to hear Peg and I discuss why the rise of the girlie girl
is not that innocent.    

01b copy

Of equal importance , we talk about practical, simple – even fun! (we’re not talking going
Mommie Militant here) – things  you can do in your and your kids’ everyday lives to empower,
rather than limit, how your children shape their identities and dreams to ambitiously navigate
through this, our junk culture, according to their own informed sensibilities.


Happy Birthday Little Sister Sledge,

from your Big Sister Sledge Auntie. I’m thrilled that you love your new Jr. Telescope Set,
your binoculars, and your great new hardcover books (adding to your library being one of
our celebratory rituals and holiday traditions) – none of which are about princesses kissing 
frogs. Your mom and I are on the front lines with you. We are family.


I invite you to weigh in below. Are you with Cinderella? Or will you take a stand to protect
YOUR daughter (and nieces and goddaughters and, even your sons and young males in your
life) from the junk culture that dumbs down girls' sense of selves and expectations?

Nothing less than our daughters' identities and their futures is on the line.



7 Things Rich Authors Know and Do Differently Than Poor Authors

Stevenew Many of my coaching clients, colleagues, and friends ask me why some authors make a fortune while so many others with equally good – or better (let’s be honest) – books always seem to struggle financially.

Many of us who are authors (published, or not yet) would like to make a whole lot more from our own non-fiction book(s) – maybe even enough to go full-time – without wasted time, work, emotional energy, or chasing false promises and throwing away money that ends up giving us a rotten return on our investment.

After working with 9,300+ authors over the last 20 years, my trusted advisor and colleague Steve Harrison, founder of the  Radio-TV Interview Report and the Million Dollar Author Club,  has learned this: Rich authors know and do seven key things differently than poor authors.

I invite you to join Steve for a free 75-minute information-packed telephone seminar on Thursday, April 15 (offered at two different times for your convenience) during which he'll share those seven key things with you. Click here to register now at no cost.

Anyone who works with me knows that I am extremely selective about recommending resources. I personally have studied (and studied and studied…) -- and implemented (implementing is key, after all!) -- Steve’s information over and over again to make my book, Ambition Is Not A Dirty Word: A Woman’s Guide To Earning Her Worth and Achieving Her Dreams  (Random House / Broadway) a bestseller. Knowing first hand the value of Steve’s information, I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this 75-minute
complimentary seminar.

What you’ll learn on this call will be vitally important information about publishing, how to avoid needless mistakes and stop wasting your precious time and money while writing and and promoting your book(s), and nuts-and-bolts advice about how to achieve MUCH more success and fulfillment as an author. Click here for more details about what you'll learn:

Continue reading "7 Things Rich Authors Know and Do Differently Than Poor Authors" »

Exciting News from Carol Jenkins

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We have some exciting news we want to share with you, a member of The Women's Media Center extended family: the WMC has acquired, the online database of over 500 women experts. This makes the WMC the definitive source for women analysts and experts -- and meshes perfectly with our intensive media training program, Progressive Women's Voices.

Click here to read more about WMC and

Continue reading "Exciting News from Carol Jenkins" »

The S.O.B. Diet: Silda Spitzer & The Sisterhood

We women always try and look on the bright side. Case in point: a friend who was going through a painful divorce and custody battle said to me, “Well, at least I’ll lose a few pounds—I’m on the Son of a Bitch Diet.”

Her husband—father to her children, ages two and four—had been having an affair. She kicked him out. He begged her to try again. She took him back. Several months later, she discovered he was back with his mistress.  He couldn’t help himself, he tearfully explained to his wife, his mistress was “the best friend I’ve ever had.” (Not surprisingly, he didn’t end up with the mistress after their divorce.)

After all that stress, my friend had shed her Mom jeans and was back in her skinny jeans.  She was right—the so-called Son of a Bitch Diet is the one surefire diet that works.

Continue reading "The S.O.B. Diet: Silda Spitzer & The Sisterhood" »

Beat the Bitch? Straight Talk on the B-Bomb

John McCain wants to be the next leader of the free world, and he gives a free pass to someone calling his opponent a "bitch", calls it "an excellent question"? And it took him endless obfuscating just to be able to rally to say, "I respect Hillary Clinton"! Never confronting the dropping of the B-bomb? Are you kidding me?

Continue reading "Beat the Bitch? Straight Talk on the B-Bomb" »

Radio Interview on The Radio Ritas

I'll be doing an interview on the Radio Ritas show tomorrow. Tune in!

Monday, January 29, 2007: 8:10 - 8:20 AM 
“The Radio Ritas”
GreenStone Media LLC
National Radio Interview

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I am a business psychologist, researcher, author, executive coach, and career advisor. I lead workshops and lecture frequently on women’s need to embrace our ambition. I founded the Women’s Business Alliance, a motivational think tank for more than 2,500 women. For more details, see my about page.

I’d love to hear your story. Ambitious women owe it to ourselves—and the world—to make the contribution we were born to make. Let’s keep the dialogue flowing.


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