Dora – loses her way

A sillouhette of the new Dora

A sillouhette of the new Dora

So, the thing that is bugging me most, and thanks to shaping-youth for blogging about this too, and getting PinkStinks all cross.

Let’s imagine our lives. Let’s remember when we were young. I do, I wanted to be a vet. Lots of kids do … lots of girls do I think. Then I kind of got put off, because I realised you needed to be good at sciences, and things like that, oh, and 7 years at university … well … then I decided that as I was good at drawing, I’d do graphics … so I did, then … well. Whatever, it doesn’t matter. But something that absolutely DID not happen to me, on my journey, was that I was NEVER ever, a tween.
If I was a kid now though … there’d be no escaping it.
I think it’s meant to be between the ages of 8, to about 12 … those ruthless marketeers would know the precise age range, and it’s here that our girls truly start to be bombarded with messages, about what it is to be a girl, what they need to look like, own, which kind of girl they’ll be, all cleverly disguised as ‘choice’ but really, a whole heap of marketing opportunities  and top wedge to be made.
Here’s the Wiki – on ‘Tween’
Tween is an American neologism and marketing term[6] for preteen. A blend of between and teen,[4][5] “tween” in this context is generally considered to cover the age range from eight to twelve years.[5]
Tween seems sometimes to be used in such a way as to suggest it’s some sort of scientific theory (or fact) … but I think it came from the same science as pentapeptides, and lipopeptides and all those other mysterious peptide cousins
There’s tons of great stuff about ‘tweens’ in the book Consumer Kids: How big business is grooming our children for profit. By Ed Mayo and Agnes Nairn.  
So, what’s Dora got to do with this? Well, Dora is going tween, later this year. And you have to ask yourself: “my God, WHY?”  She’s by no means perfect, she’s had some princess moments, her merchandising often betrays who she really is. However, most of the time, she’s climbing mountains, reading maps, navigating rivers, teaching us spanish and just plain old exploring. But her journey has been sabotaged, by the evil marketeers, who want to take away the dreams of girls, and turn them into nightmares. Dora, allegedly might still be solving a few mysteries, but only on her way to the mall. She’s gone and grown-up hasn’t she … and guess what, when girls grow up, they don’t want to explore and discover anymore, unless it’s new nail polish, or some great accessories or, or, well: go take a look on your highstreet. There’s plenty of ‘choice’.
I bet you, yes I do, that once she’s ‘tweened’, we’ll be informed promptly of the educational learning value of the the new Dora, of how she is encouraging creativity in girls, and helping them ‘belong’. This is a common tactic used by websites. ‘Parents, fear not, it’s in the interests of our girls, that Dora becomes fashionista. Honest.’ Good grief. Give us a break would you. We just don’t buy it. (Forgive the pun.)
David Attenborough has been making fantastic new programmes, about amazing events in nature airing on the BBC at the moment. My son (aged 6) LOVES them. Tonight, as usual, all amazing, moving stuff. It struck me … Dora would have loved it. Well, until she got tweened that is. Now she’d be more interested in which cropped top goes with which denim skirt. Not what she’ll need in her backpack, and where has that pesky map gone to?
We await her arrival with baited breathe, but let’s just say, tweening ain’t our backpack.
Hardy Girls Healthy Women in the States are starting a campaign to ‘Save Dora’ – The  Let’s Go: No Makeover campaign, 
You can sign their petition HERE
Here’s a short excerpt from the petition outline page:
That’s why we’re sending this letter to Mattel and Nickelodeon! Join us for Let’s Go: No Makeover for Dora. Help us tell the execs at Mattel and Nickelodeon to “Let GO” of Dora. Either let her live on as her wonderful self, or create a pre-teen doll that is true to who she was as a child!

Sign onto the letter below and we’ll add your name to the list of concerned parents, activists, educators, and girls who refuse to stand aside while yet another girlhood icon becomes the victim of marketers’ schemes: 
We support the campaign whole-heartedly. 


This is apparently the Dora behind the sillouhette

This is apparently the Dora behind the sillouhette

12 responses to “Dora – loses her way

  1. Thanks for the link to the petition, I shall certainly be filling it out.

    As you say, current Dora has her twee moments, but in a sea of utterly sexist dross, she’s always been an independent, inquisitive and interesting character for our daughters, not some bland Princess.

    Such a shame that that’s not ‘girly’ enough.

  2. This is getting crazy.
    I’ve been growing ever more concerned about how women and girls are portrayed in cartoons, films, video games and so on…looks like nothing is going to give children good fictional role models until there are more level headed women making the decisions.

  3. This has really saddened me. I don’t have children (yet!) so don’t really have any exposure to programmes like Dora The Explorer but it’s so depressing that yet again, a character who seems to be a good role model for little girls is being changed to fit the appearance-obsessed, materialistic ideal.

  4. Ugh, this is awful. Yes, Dora has fairly twee moments, but really. My daughter is 4, and loves Dora the way she is. So do I. Fictional role models for girls that actually do more than squee and act as clotheshorses are becoming few and far between. Let’s not lose another.

  5. Pingback: Ooh look! » Blog Archive » Today I am sad

  6. Ugh! I have boys, but think of what message this will be sending to little boys too. It’s like telling them that this is the ideal kind of girl. I prefer Dora as she is. The Teletubbies don’t need to grow up, why should Dora?

  7. All signed up!

    Can’t believe it – gutted! My daughter is three and loves Dora. She is determined to learn to swing on the monkey bars like Dora and has started to learn Spanish with a friend too. I find it hard enough to fight the pink princess brigade – current goal is to find non-pink or non-princessafied bike for girls. A fashionista… really… have they no imagination?

  8. Good blog! Have signed the petition.

  9. As a child of the tween revolution, I can perfectly see where all you mothers are coming from. I find the stereotypes of women/girls on TV, computer, books and manga very sexist. But there are good female characters, who enjoy fashion. That doesn’t make them bad people. Two examples would be Sakura from Naruto, Hermione Granger. Both are attractive, bainey women, who also happen to be very badass
    Taking care of your appearance is important in todays society

    The old Dora is staying on TV, this is just new marketing for tween’s who love Dora, and it is now more ‘ok’ for them to watch it. I mean, if you had a 10 year old watching the old Dora, she would be made fun of. But this new one will allow her to continue watching an beloved show, without censure from friends, or even family.

    Ok, so from looking above you would probably think that I support the marketing of Dora. I DON’T. She is aimed at little kids, and it is very sad that a beloved character is being changed. I just wanted to point out that just because you are interested in fashion, doesn’t make you a brain dead brat.

    So, long live the old Dora. yeah?

    • Thanks for your comments Sarah – not sure about the reference to ‘all you mothers’! I prefer us not to be seen just as this (though I am) but actually as people who are concerned for our daughters and sons, and children in general. That includes fathers. And people without children (as many of the people on here who have commented are).

      Anyway, I’m also not adverse to a bit of fashion myself as it goes. I enjoy fashion. I might be a mother. But I’m also a woman. And yes – appearance is important. But it’s not the be all and end all.

      Our concern is that girls are led down a path with promotes the obsession with clothes, hair, make-up over anything else. Dora is famous for being an explorer. This is what is so great about her. But when girls get older (and we are only talking about 7-8 year olds here – the age which my oldest daughter is) suddenly being an explorer is not what the marketing people have on the agenda. It’s about leading them along a path which turns them into avid consumers of beauty products, hair products etc etc all in the impossible quest for unattainable beauty and happiness. It’s madness. And it damages kids. Boys and girls for that matter. My 7 year old daughter asked me for a diet coke about a year ago. I nearly died. She knows about this stuff … because it’s all around her. She is concerned about her body already. She’s the skinniest little thing you’ve ever seen.

      As one these ‘mothers’ yes I am concerned and yes I see the affects of all this on both my daughters. Just one look around you and you’ll see this ‘mono-culture’ everywhere you go and it’s scary. All we ask is that girls have a choice. A choice to be something other than a clothes-horse and that girls are given the space to be all the things that they want to be. Being an explorer is something I would dearly love for my girls. And Dora is (or is that was?) one of the very few cartoon characters who does something different. So yes. LONG LIVE THE OLD DORA. There’s no question about it.

  10. Re role models,inequalities, celeb culture and pressure to grow up etc and links to mental health – see this article in the Independent on Sunday:

  11. Great post! One of the most horrifying books I had to read for research on my film about body image was “The Great Tween Buying Machine” – when I picked it up from the library I thought it was a social critique of consumerism aimed at kids. Little did I know it was a “how to” book for marketers, advising them on the best strategies to attract teenagers!

    The new edition comes with a different by-line: it replaces “Marketing to Today’s Tweens” with “Capturing Your Share of the Multi- Billion-Dollar Tween Market.” Creepy stuff.

    I scanned a couple of pages, with drawings done in class, by elementary school girls, showing characters that go shopping and say phrases like “This is fun.” They are used by the book’s author to show how “important” and attractive shopping is to little girls. If you’re interested I can send the images over 🙂

    Keep up with the great work

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