In the News
The Downfall of Dora
Yet another child star is headed down the wrong path
Dora the Explorer is about to go under the knife, according to her parents, Nickelodeon and Mattel, who just released this teaser silhouette (below) of their new and improved ‘tween Dora. Dora in full detail will make her debut this fall. Dora has spent 10 years as the reigning queen of preschoolers’ favorite characters, and Mattel says Dora lovers want her to grow up with them to share all the new things they will experience.
I get their reasoning, but I ask you, does anybody really want to see Dora with zits or fighting off the advances of a puberty-stricken Diego? Isn’t this the market Hannah Montana already owns?
And if girls do actually need a ‘tween Dora, why is she suddenly an air-head fashionista and not going off on some archaeological dig with pals Map and Backpack? How long before New Dora dumps Map in favor of trendy cool guy, GPS; and Backpack is sure to be replaced with Hermes’ latest Kelly bag. Though I suppose Mattel should grow Dora out of her friendship with Boots, chimps not being acceptable pets these days and all.
When I showed my 4-year-old the (scary) New Dora silhouette and asked who she thought it was, she said, “Amelie.” That would be the chic French heroine from Dora’s World Adventure that’s been read again and again in our house. Further speculation yielded this assessment of New Dora’s possible footwear: “They’re glittery gold, Mommy, they’re pretty. Not yellow socks and white sneakers like Dora’s.” This, from a child who watches no TV, doesn’t wear nail polish (yet) and whose babysitter-bought glamour Barbie “disappeared” one day (call me Mommy Dearest if you must). So, really, do little girls need even more encouragement to focus on the superficial while they simultaneously grow up too fast?
OK, maybe this is hitting a nerve because it flashes back to the days of my pal Holly Hobbie and her successor in innocence, the sweetly scented Strawberry Shortcake and her band of assorted bakery-treat pals (Apple Dumplin’, Blueberry Muffin, Huckleberry Pie…). When I decided to indulge my own inner child by buying my daughter some Strawberry Shortcake stories, I arrived at the bookstore in the nick of time – Strawberry’s owner had just announced that puberty had gotten the best of our fruity friend, and it was time to reflect her “changes.” We brought home two titles featuring the as yet morphed-only-once Strawberry, who still did look like a kid you’d let your kid play with.
Yes, brands have to keep up with the times, and sometimes those updates are long overdue – Betty Crocker finally lost her bouffant hairdo in 1986, after 50 years on the job. And even the Pillsbury Doughboy, while continuing to hawk his high-calorie yummys, has himself shed a few doughpounds through the years. But for sure, neither of those marketing moves had any effect on my self-esteem or vision of what kind of woman I could grow up to be.
Girls do not need Dora to grow up with them. No parent dreams that her daughter will traipse off to college with her same-age-as-me Dora doll in tow. Kids are supposed to outgrow their favorite things-whether it’s a blankie, or thumb, or teddy bear or cartoon character. That’s just one of those little milestone moments we moms tick off the list of things that make us feel we’re raising them right.
The really sad part here is that all the preschool-age girls to come will never know the Dora that was a smart little girl with sensible shoes and a little rounded tummy just like theirs who went on learning adventures with her simple but loyal and loving friends. (Oh, yes, well maybe now they can only hang with Boots by visiting him, behind bars, at the zoo…)