Peggy Orenstein

"Girl power" has never looked more different and … well, more pink than it does today. Building on her much-discussed 2006 New York Times essay, Peggy Orenstein examines the phenomenon of starter makeup and Disney Princesses in Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches From the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture (Harper, $25.99). Journeying from Toys R' Us to Club Libby Lu, she also charts the evolution of first-, second-, and third-wave feminism. While following the transition from play-clothing pastels to sexualized hot pinks (with designer labels), Orenstein finds a world defined by consumerism. This leads to a dilemma: In rejecting princess dolls, is a mother rejecting the idea that "It's okay to be a girl?" Either way, to women whose own mothers fought sexism and broke glass ceilings, this retro obsession with the ultra-feminine induces a cringe. You don't need to be a parent to appreciate Orenstein's frank admissions and often startling discoveries. Did you know there are 25,000 different Disney Princess products in existence today? Or that the line is a $4 billion annual business? Barbie was just a toy, but pink is an industry. JEVA LANGE

Wed., Feb. 15, 7:30 p.m., 2012

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