Living in the Oldest City in the United States, St. Augustine certainly has its challenges, first being the high number of tourists to visit the area a valid 2 million a year.
In the past they were mostly middle class with St. Augustine being their destination. However, with that said, in the past 20 years or more the complexion of the tourist has changed significantly. And numbers will bear out that the city is no longer the destination point, it’s a ‘side trip’ after Disney World.
Once in the city, the destination place, must see, is the Castillo de San Marcos. Built from 1671 when the first worker drew his pay, the “fort”, as it’s commonly referred to by locals, was finally completed August 31, 1693 and if you’re counting, that’s 22 years.
Ok, Cathy, what’s the deal? Why are you beginning your review of Cinderella Ate My Daughter with a very short history lesson of Castillo de San Marcos? Please stay with me just a moment more.
I recall walking my dog at fort green, the grassy area surrounding the Castillo and a young boy, about 10, yelling to his parents, “hey, look, it’s a dog!” It took me years to figure out just why he thought that was so odd, to see a dog walking around the fort. (Hint: Seen any dogs (other than assistance dogs at Disney World? See any homeless at Disney World? See any panhandling at Disney World?)
Loving history as I do, I trained for tour guide certification specifically for the Castillo only giving tours to 4th graders. The city is inundated with 4th graders from throughout the state in the spring when they’re required to study Florida history, St. Augustine being where it all started.
One morning giving a tour, I overheard a precocious and chatty little girl asking her friend, “how long has this castle been here?” The other little girl answered, “probably same time as Cinderella’s castle.” When I overheard these kids I immediately emphasized again to the entire group when Castillo de San Marcos was built and that it isn’t “a castle” like they’ve all seen at Disney World. (It’s a given they all have been to Disney World.) It’s an honest to goodness real original fort for the purposes of defending and protecting the Spanish city, not housing any princesses waiting for the prince’s kiss to take them away.
It was like a eureka moment for me thinking about that comment from the kid about my dog. He thought he was at Disney World; a fictional world, developed by real people in the real recent past.
In the book, Disney, the creator of all those pixel movies, you know which ones, where the young woman is saved by the prince’s kiss and they live happily ever after. Then there’s MGA, creator of Bratz dolls which were quite sexy little things when they originally entered the market. Needless to go on, you know where I’m going and you would have to have lived in a cave not to have heard of Tiaras and Toddlers.
What do these companies, TV advertising and programs and peer pressure all have in common? Making a mint on parents, friends and relatives purchasing a ‘fantasy’ of related items which happen to be pink. What I have called for years, ‘the pink princess’ phenomena.
What little girl could resist being a princess along with all its undercurrent themes of being kissed by a prince, living in a castle and living forever ‘happily ever after?’ Even I would be stupid to refuse that, if indeed such a thing exists; however, it’s all fantasy and unfortunately fantasy to sell products, specifically pink products from play castles to princess dresses to you name it…it’s pink as long as it’s pink.
So what has this done to generations of our daughters? Has it made them less studious? More competitive to catch ‘the prince’ at any cost? Encouraged their belief as their parents said, ‘you’re a princess’ with undertones of your beauty and charm will get you where you want to be in life. Me, well, I believe it has and it shows in the ‘duh’ factor of some young women I see from time to time, just waiting for that prince to come.
Author Peggy Orenstein covers it all without being ‘preachy’. It was an easy read for a mom or dad, anyone who is interested in a little sociology tempered with some humor. Orenstein discovers some of herself in challenges trying to instill in her own daughter how to make good choices in her toys and accessories including lunchboxes.
As you can see this is simply a broad overview of how society has been infused with this “pink fantasy” brought on(in my mind) by Disney World and how it has taken hold of our children. It’s all about marketing, folks, selling stuff to children who ‘just have to have’ what their friends have. And it’s P-I-N-K!
For an in depth look at this book, for both mothers and fathers and interested sociology, please read Will Byrnes review Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture
which is very thoughtful and thorough. Will’s review was the reason I wanted to read the book, and so glad I did. It was an eye opener.
A great break for me from mysteries.
*******UPDATE from Time Magazine, Week of Dec 10, 2012
Disney World to Update Princess Complex (Including something for the lads...oops, Disney missed them the first go around in marketing arena)
It never ends, the marketing of the Princess theme. The new complex will include an opportunity for the lads saying it's something more masculine. They missed a marketing chance previously by focusing only on the girly-girls.
End of story includes fact that Florida family pays $1,810 yearly for family passes. Where does this money come from? And why? Buy the girls books for crying out loud! (Editorial comment)