Someone at Mattel had the questionable idea to turn Dora The Explorer into a Bratz doll type tween with a giant head, lots of hair, and way too sexy look. Enthusiastic, bilingual, three-step problem-solving Dora is probably not thought to be marketable enough to the slightly older kids who are watching Britney videos and emulating Hannah Montana. They’re making Dora “grow up” into a new demographic that has more power to beg for stuff from their parents.
Mattel has only released is a “silouette” of the new Dora complete with a press release touting Dora’s growing fashion sense, but parents see the writing on the wall. Dora is about to care a lot less about catching stars, counting, and visiting her mom on archeological digs. While she’s preoccupied doing her hair Swiper is going to snatch all of Boot’s toys and she’ll just sigh and look wistfully off into the distance. Adults resent the fact that one of the only regular little girl role models for preschoolers is becoming a cookie-cutter tween complete with hair extensions, a cute little skirt and a sassy walk. I wonder if Dora will also get a pony for a sidekick and start going to the mall without a map.
As the mother of a young girl, I know very well that there are very few characters out there aimed at girls that offer the kind of message I feel comfortable with. There aren’t a lot of spunky, non-sexualized girl dolls and tv characters. Instead, preschoolers are bombarded with characters like Bratz and Barbie, two very adult characters. On top of that, Disney offers very gender-stereotyped Princesses like Sleeping Beauty and Ariel the mermaid, who use their smarts primarily to land a man and their happily ever after.
So when I find a little girl character who is smart, curious, spunky and NORMAL looking, trust me, I cling to her. Dora the Explorer is that girl. She solve mysteries by using her brain and her tools. She fearlessly explores the jungle and the rest of her world, learning new things along the way. And most important of all, she looks like a little girl, with a little pot belly and no curves. That is how little girls look. Is it so much to ask that a cartoon character of a little girl actually looks like a little girl?
Apparently, for Nickelodeon and Mattel, who own the rights to Dora, yes, it is too much to ask. They have already manipulated Dora into doing things that don’t make sense for the little explorer- she has been turned into a princess (huh?) and a mermaid (what?), clearly just to compete with the Disney Princesses. But now they are taking it a step further; the two toy companies have announced their plans to sexify Dora.
In a press release sent out last month, it was announced that Dora is growing up. “This groundbreaking initiative, featuring fashion dolls and accessories, is a completely new brand extension that empowers girls to influence and change the lives of Dora and her new friends,” claims the press release. And how are they going to empower the new “tween” Dora? “As tweenage Dora,” trumpets the release, “our heroine has moved to the big city, attends middle school and has a whole new fashionable look.” Fashion? Apparently, that is the only way toy companies can think of to empower little girls.
[From Examiner.com via WeSmirch]
I have a four year-old son who still likes to watch Dora but prefers her new primo, Diego, which is definitely targeted to little boys. Diego will keep acting like an animal rescuer on crack and jumping around saving exotic creatures. He’s not going to change, but some clueless executives made the decision to make Dora sexy and stupid to appeal to little girls. Maybe Mattel was just testing the water with the release of Dora’s new figure and that alarming press release and they’ll realize it’s a bad idea to change a very profitable formula. My kid dislikes the new plush talking Blues Clues figure and won’t watch any of those shows. Focus groups full of kids hopped up on sugar are not the best way to make multi-million dollar marketing decisions.
Written by Celebitchy
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