Berkeley-based author Peggy Orenstein was on Forum today, and KQED News Interactive Producer Amanda Stupi and I caught up with her for a nine-minute video interview in our green room.

Orenstein is the author of the best-seller Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture. Here’s the description of the book:

Pink and pretty or predatory and hardened, sexualized girlhood influences our daughters from infancy onward, telling them that how a girl looks matters more than who she is. Somewhere between the exhilarating rise of Girl Power in the 1990s and today, the pursuit of physical perfection has been recast as a source—the source—of female empowerment. And commercialization has spread the message faster and farther, reaching girls at ever-younger ages.

But, realistically, how many times can you say no when your daughter begs for a pint-size wedding gown or the latest Hannah Montana CD? And how dangerous is pink and pretty anyway—especially given girls’ successes in the classroom and on the playing field?…

(Peggy Orenstein) visited Disneyland and the international toy fair, trolled American Girl Place and Pottery Barn Kids, and met beauty pageant parents with preschoolers tricked out like Vegas showgirls. She dissected the science, created an online avatar, and parsed the original fairy tales. The stakes turn out to be higher than she—or we—ever imagined: nothing less than the health, development, and futures of our girls….

Here’s our interview, in which Orenstein talks about Disney’s role in launching an entire industry capitalizing on “princessmania” among young girls; how parents can avoid the Princess Industrial Complex (that’s my term; I have a two-year-old princess-in-waiting) while still honoring their daughters’ femininity; and how fathers can participate in helping their daughters’ self-image.

You can read a preview of the book on And if you want to listen to the full interview with Orenstein by Forum’s Michael Krasny, here it is below:


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

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