Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

08 March 2009

The Slut-ification of Dora is now complete

Over two years ago I picked up on a warning that Hoyden About Town posted about: Dora was growing up. She wasn't growing up in the Jodi Foster way. She wasn't packing her beloved BackPack for Yale, UCLA or Evergreen. She was thinning out and getting sexy.

Mattel, the makers of all things Dora (except the ones at the flea market), has said:

As tweenage Dora, our heroine has moved to the big city, attends middle school and has a whole new fashionable look. What’s more, she now has a rich online world in which girls can explore, play games, customize, and most importantly solve mysteries with Dora and her new friends. Adding to the play value, Dora’s online world is interactive with the new doll line.
Mattel & Nickelodeon somehow think that if Dora grows up with the audience, that they won't lose market share to a certain doll who is celebrating her 50th birthday. What is scary about this change is the Dr. Frankenstein aspect of the new "interactive" Dora:

By plugging the doll into the computer, girls can access Dora’s brand-new interactive online world. This exciting innovation in computer-connected play offers girls a unique interactive experience: as girls are playing online they can customize their doll and watch as she magically transforms right before their eyes. For example, by changing Dora’s hair length, jewelry, and eye color on screen, the Dora doll magically changes as well.

YOU GET TO CHANGE DORA'S EYE COLOR!! Don't like her Latina cafe colored eyes? No problem. I wonder how long it will take for Mattel to offer Dora red highlights or even going blond so she can look like Shakira.

Now we, parents & the media, can all sit on our hands and blame Mattel & Nick for taking our doe-eyed Dora and turning her into a Latina Gossip-Girl, but you better take that finger and point it at yourself if you've ever:
  • Taken your 3-7 year-old-girl for a make-over at one of those stores that drowns the girl in glitter, gives them a mani-pedi and helps them "discover" the joys of being a girl;
  • Bought your 3-7 year-old anything with Hannah Montana or High School Musical;
  • Bought your 3-7 year old clothes that were made with high schoolers in mind.
I could go on and on, but I won't. I think you get the idea.

I'm not the perfect mom, but I've kept these issues in the fore-front of my mind for much longer than I've been a mom. Much to the chagrin of friends & family who buy my 5yo daughter things that are too mature for her, I have kept the 2-year ban on all things Dora that falls in the sexy column. I want my 5yo to enjoy her childhood and grow up as slowly as possible. I've seen the looks I get when I say that I don't let her watch High School Musical or other shows like that.

But you know what...I was prepared for the slut-ification of Dora.

We can't expect to buy our 5-7-year-old girls media & clothing meant for older girls and not see a market ripple effect. Mattel & Nick NEED to let Dora grow up to have any access to our girls who skip "American Doll" and go right into the 10-is-the-new-17-aisle.

Did you really think anything good would come from Dora trading in Backpack for an "electronic adventure set" that contains "a Play Cellphone, Comb, Bracelet, Heart shaped bag and Earrings?"

Yes, I had dress-up things too, but Dora was supposed to be different and we all took that for granted. We thought we could always have Dora there to resuce our daughters from the clutches of the other crap out there. She'd be there when we tired of seeing yet another starlet on the cover of FHM. She'd pop out each time our kindergartener said that "that's a boy thing!"

Are you finally ready to get off your hands and this time WE rescue Dora? I hope so.

And to Mattel & Nick: If you're going to let Dora grow up and get all sexy, I have a few suggestions on appropriate growing-up Dora sets:

  • My first period: Boots alerts Dora of a chocolate stain on her skirt. Backpack to the rescue! Pads, tampons & pain reliever!
  • HPV shot: Mami takes Dora to get her HPV test, but not before a long debate on whether it is safe or not;
  • Space camp Dora: Just like Tish in "Space Camp," Dora heads off to sharpen her science skills wearing fashionable (althou embarrassing in 20 years) outfits;
  • My first trip to the OBGYN: While Dora is going to wait for sex, she does need to visit the OBGYN/midwife/Planned Parenthood so she can know what the hell is happening to her body and how she is in charge of her body.
And maybe, maybe Dora does need to have sex in high school. She can be in control of her sexuality and sluff off the SLUT label that so many Latinas get, whether or not we're having sex.

And Dora: It's not me, it's your makers. I still love you & your spunky ways. But I can't let my daughter join you in your new adventure. But we'll see you in re-runs. xoxo, your best mama friend, Veronica.

12 comments:

I'm one of those Moms that isn't as strict as you. I let Isabelle watch the first High School Musical because there wasn't even a single kiss in it and the music was fantastic. I liked the idea of a brainy girl and an athletic boy not caring about peer pressure (after awhile)and being involved in drama! But I get why people hate it. I also get why people hate commercialized stuff....I just think that a parent can be responsible...keep an eye on what their kids see as far as commercials and things like that(perfect reason to own a dvr) and take responsibility for your own parenting.

You are very broad with your tisk tisk brush in this entry...and I guess I get why....I just think that some of us can't quite reach the high expectations you are setting...but I'll settle for a daughter who seems well balanced...who excels in things that she puts her mind to doing...and who occasionally asks me to paint her fingernails and put high school music up on my itunes. *shrug*

Thats why I love you...we're different.

Yes, I know you're a mom who isn't as strict. I don't know many who are as strict as I am. I know others who are far stricter - no princess stuff ever. But I see Dora's evolution as a culmination of all these small steps that 90% of moms have gone along with. This small thing won't hurt, that one won't, but it all adds up into one selling point for the younger-than-tween crowd and original Dora isn't what sells.

Well said! I signed the petition, read the post to my mom and retweeted it.

ARGH!!! Read the story in Chicago Trib... so disappointed in Mattel. You know, there is Barbie and Princesses (we know how much our 2 yo girl loves princesses - she is currently obsessed with Jasmine) and that is okay - but there was also Dora - so there was at least (somewhat) a RANGE of role models/cartoons/dolls...and she had her counterpart in Diego - baby jaguar and all!

Why the need to "pre-tween" her?? I don't get it. Keep Dora as the spunky, intelligent, map reading girl she is - for the younger set... find something else for the in be-tweens.

Of course - there is always videos....

ARGH!

and

ARGH!!!

Don't forget the set where she gets down and dirty with Diego. Or maybe his sister, Alicia.

This is a cheesy, trasnparent attempt to SELL MORE PLASTIC CRAP and other merchandise. Now Dora fans will be on their parents to dump their old Dora stuff in a landfill and replace it with new Dora stuff.

I'm just as upset as you are about this. I wrote about this at the CA NOW blog, and linked back to you.

I'm totally with you on this. And I don't think it's a matter of being strict or not...I think it's about not drinking the kool-aid and doing what everyone else is doing. Look at those Bratz dolls...I mean really? You don't have a problem w/ your daughter playing with dolls who's only missing accessories are a street pole and a pimp? Why? B/c you really think it's okay, or b/c you don't want the other parents to think you're strict and uptight?

I really don't know what happened to common sense.

Sorry to vent lol...this is why I never comment on blogs, I always wind up on my soap box.

Great post btw.

Thanks Naomi...Vent all you want here. That's why I write & have comments.

I'm disappointed by all the "slut-shaming" language in your post.

I think Dora's 'Middle School' look could have stayed truer to what Dora is about and not gone so far with the girly accessories but "slut-ification"?

So a tunic and leggings with ballet flats is slutty? and that purple headband - She's asking for trouble dressing that way.

Please, isn't it possible to discuss the issue without resorting to such charged language?

Rachelsoma -- This piece was written before we knew exactly what new dora was going to look like. If you read the piece that follows, i say that new Dora isn't as bad as I thought she was going to look like. The silhouette led me & others to think she'd look more Bratz-like.

As for using the word slut, I've struggled with that word, on this site and used it knowing how society views that word. BUT in the entry, I do note that I hope that as Mattel ages Dora, she does have a healthy sex life in high school and tosses aside the label of slut.

But thanks for your comment.

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Joannah

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I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Ruth

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