Why do we buy what we buy?

Marketing plays a big role in what we buy and what we think about ourselves , concludes Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter—Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture.

Orenstein says that each of us “is a cog in the round-the-clock, all-pervasive media machine aimed at our daughters—and at us—from womb to tomb; one that, again and again, presents femininity as performance, sexuality as performance, identity as performance, and each of those traits is available for a price.”

The Disney marketing machine alone created sales of $4 billion dollars in Disney Princess items in 2009, making it “the largest franchise on the planet for girls age two to six.”

One study showed that 81 percent of 10-year-old girls were afraid of getting fat, and another indicated that half of 9-year-old girls were already dieting.

Does our culture tells a girl that she is “competent, strong, creative or smart”? No, Orenstein says. What she is told is “that every little girl wants—or should want—to be the Fairest of Them All.”

Marketing influences women, too. “The phases of our lives have become strangely blurred, as girls try to look like adult women and adult women primp and preen and work out like crazy in order to look like girls,” this author says.

The solution? “There is power—magic—in awareness,” Orenstein believes. We need to be aware of the messages our daughters are learning from marketing and the messages we are absorbing from marketing, too.

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