The Bottom Line
This is a book that I really wanted to review positively. We all care about our daughters and granddaughters and need to be aware of retailers' schemes for marketing to girls. It's admirable that someone cares enough to do this type of exhaustive research and detailed analysis. The end result, however, is a book that tries to cover too many different issues and yet repeats the same points over and over. At the same time modern girls are not given credit for being the strong-willed creatures that they are.
- Makes some excellent points
- Repetitive and wordy at times
- Overly broad in scope
- Unlikely to appeal to a popular audience
- Written by Sharon Lamb and Lyn Mikel Brown
- Published by St. Martin's Griffin
- List price $14.95
- Around 300 pages
Guide Review - Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers' Schemes
As the grandparent of five girls, I'm familiar with many of the icons invoked by the authors, from Barbies to Bratz to Disney girls, and I don't agree with many of the messages delivered to my granddaughters. What the authors of this book may have underestimated, in my opinion, is the will that girls have to resist the messages delivered by marketers. Among my five granddaughters, I have an anime fan, a couple who are mad about stuffed animals, one who won't wear anything pink, one who loves pink but is also a Future Problem Solver--you get the picture. In my experience as a high school teacher, I also saw many girls who resisted stereotypes. I had amazing athletes and fantastic students, and they made their own choices. In a strange sort of way, I think this type of book denigrates girls, because it discounts their ability to see through hype and to pursue their own individuality. Can it hurt for us to be more aware of the messages girls receive? Absolutely not. But I think most of the time girls who have been brought up to think for themselves will reject the message long before we get around to worrying about it.
Another problem that I had with the book was that the authors seemed to be trying to cover all the bases. Everything from sexualized Halloween costumes to Britney Spears to eating disorders is touched on. It's as if the authors had to cover every negative cultural influence that girls could possibly be exposed to. I was surprised by what the authors revealed in the area of literature. Gender stereotyping is still alive and well, according to the research done by the authors. Boys still outnumber girls as protagonists, and picture books still feature men doing the outdoor chores and women in the kitchen. No wonder that most of the strong women I know loved Anne of Green Gables, one of the original strong female protagonists.
There are a lot of good books for grandparents, books that will keep us informed on various issues. Packaging Girlhood definitely falls into that category, especially if you have granddaughters. It's not an easy read, and I find it somewhat alarmist, but it does raise some issues of concern to parents and grandparents.