So, in the Wall Street Journal (and actually in CAMD, when I interview the head of Disney product licensing) the company defends the Princess monolith by saying "it expands girls imaginations in a developmentally appropriate way." Because nothing expands a girl's sense of her possibilities more than mouse ears with a bridal veil attached,right? (A friend of mine just saw tons of little girls running around in these at Disneyland)
They're right about the Princesses being developmentally appropriate,though. In fact, developmentally speaking they are GENIUS, dovetailing with the exact time when girls will latch onto the most extreme images a culture has to offer of what it means to be female. There are all kinds of resaons for that that I talk about in the book. But the flip side is that it's also the time when the human brain is most malleable, most open to learning and retaining broader ideas about gender, both now and in their future lives. So reinforcing the differences between boys and girls over and over and over and over and defining girlhood as being all about pink, pretty, sparkles, self-absorption etc while lots of fun (who doesn't like sequins?), can have a truly negative longterm impact on social relationships and cognitive skills. When you push boys and girls even more firmly than ever on the path of growing up in two different cultures the small inborn behavioral and cognitive differences between them quickly turn into huge gaps.
I didn't know nuthin' about neuroscience when I started this book,but what I found out had a huge impact on me as a thinker and a parent. I ended up writing a whole chapter about it, "What Makes Girls Girls?"