Dora the Explorer Becomes Dora the Diva?

dora the explorersil_dora_newdora the explorer as a tween

Dora the Explorer Becomes Dora the Diva?

Dr. Robyn Silverman

Well, not exactly.  Seems that while many parents and my fellow bloggers got up in arms chanting “Say it isn’t so!” and “No Makeover for Dora! when Mattel released their controversial silhouette on the 6th, calling the new Dora a “tramp,” “streetwalker,” and a Lindsey Lohan Look-a-like.  Was she being stripped down like Miley Cyrus? There was worry that she could compromise body image, threaten her ability to empower our powerful girls, and stomp on their confidence. There was even a petition…that I was ready and willing to sign as soon as I got to see the full Dora (as of March 8th over 2000 signed).

But parents are changing their tune for this toon.

Dora hasn’t been made into the next “Bratz” and she isn’t wearing a micro-mini, but rather, a long shirt over leggings.  How nice ot Mattel to get so much extra play in the media before the reveal– I’m sure, knowing that parents would be shouting denegrating comments about the Dora silhouette and then finding themselves sitting down to a nice lunch of crow at the final reveal.  Not nice. Smart marketing. But not nice at all.

We are programmed to criticize, aren’t we?  But as parents, we are sensitive to media influence on our children as well as change that can affect how our children think and feel about themselves.  And we should. And, well,  nobody likes change.  They changed Strawberry Shortcake from a pudgy, cat-carrying kid to a slimmed-down tween and that was tough.  Perhaps something to do with nostalgia? Leaving well enough alone?  Or, as a body image specialist, we can say that it’s also about taking down that belly fat and strapping on some shape-skimming outfit can have a negative effect on our girls.  Somehow “freshening up” means going on a diet these days and of course, getting a little nip-tuck.

But anyway, back to our explorer in question.  Well, she’s not a Sesame Street Walker as we might have assumed.  But there are some issues.  She’s traded in her exploring boots for ballet slippers and her practical exploring shorts for a fashionable frock and leggings– what does that mean? Well, no more jungle explorations.  Which hurts.  I kind of liked how Dora wasn’t afraid to get dirty while traipsing along with her jungle friends. She lost her stocky toddler-like physique and traded it in for a stream-line look.  Yeah, I know, she definitely doesn’t have the Latin curves. Did you really expect them?

And yup, she’s pink-afied. And appears to be wearing some kind of lip gloss or lipstick.  Not so great. And let’s not forget that on her interactive computer games, girls can change her eye color and hair– which threatens her latina roots once again. Lyn Mikel Brown, author of Packaging Girlhood and  co-founder of Hardy Girls, Healthy Women in Waterville, Maine, and a person who I admire and appreciate, questions, “why change her appearance at all? Why is appearance so important?” Exactly.  And yet in our world, it is.

The good thing is that Mattel states that Dora  “will expand into the world of solving mysteries that have overt and relatable pro-social themes — like volunteerism, water conservation, or planting trees to help the environment.” Yeah, we like that.  That’s what we stress for Powerful Words— and any role model doing that is a good thing.

Well, what do you think? Sell out or upgrade? Sign of despair or sign of the times?

As always, we look forward to your comments.

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs


3 Responses

  1. I think the move is terrible and complete dislike the direction that Nick/Mattel are taking Dora’s looks. Women’s liberation was about allowing girls and women make choices for how they would live their life -removing arcane restrictions. But what has happened is that girls are equating ‘liberation’ with unfettered exhibitionism. A long list of damaging images and messages have been sent to girls, teens and young women for far too long and the tide must turn. It is one thing to say that parents can moderate and control what their children are or aren’t exposed to, but the reality is that if these images and messages are out there then it doesn’t matter how hard a parent tries to protect -or inform- their children about values and self-worth. I, for one, found it very difficult to resist the temptation of believing that skinny was best and that’s that I had a strong support system. I really believe that a change is needed in the way we communicate what it is to be a women.

  2. Look, Okay? I’m not a parent but i think it’s pretty stupid to change something that little kids like… I mean, sure, ‘change is good’ BUT NOT WITH SOMETHING LIKE THIS! Dora was perfectly find with the orange shorts and the pink shirt with her belly sticking out… And the STAAARRS… those magical stars… what will happen to those three beloved characters; Backpack, Map, and the stars? And another thing, Boots. Will he get older and grow into a gorilla or something… maybe a dog? Lol, anyway… they shouldn’t try to change her.

  3. I agree with Lu. As a camp director for the past 34 years I feel that the direction Matel is moving Dora’s persona is pitiful. Dora the Explorer is to young girls the same as Hannah Montana is to a bit older. Let the little girls look up to Dora and have a role model who portrays a self-reliant young girl. Girls need these kinds of role models as they grow up.

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