Pink, but not pretty.

LiveScience joins forces with Peggy Orenstein to take on the “pink princess” culture and what it’s doing to our daughters:

You spoke to scientists about how this affects girls’ development. What did you learn?

Orenstein: What really floored me, both as a girl-advocate and as a parent, was the way that prematurely sexualizing girls or play-acting at sexy for them from a young age disconnects them from healthy authentic sexual feeling. So that they learn that sexuality is something that you perform, instead of something that you feel.

And that can have implications as they get older in the culture, both because of that, and because that’s increasingly what they’re going to be presented with – the idea that their sexuality is something to perform for others. And so starting that at the age of 4, 5, or 6 is troubling for a whole set of reasons that I hadn’t anticipated when I started this.

There was one researcher who works on girls’ sexual desire issues and she told me that by the time the girls she talks to are teenagers, when she asks them how a sexual encounter – and by sexual encounter I don’t mean necessarily intercourse, but anything you would define as a sexual encounter – how it felt, they respond by telling her how they think they looked.

That’s really troubling. And also completely comprehensible in the context of how they grow up.

Orenstein’s got a book out, Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture, that seems worth a read.