Four things we have to say about the new Dora in response to Mattel and Nikelodeon:
- Yeah, she’s cute. And leggings are better than a short skirt. But this was never just about modesty. It’s about hooking little girls on “tween” activities like fashion, shopping, and appearance. The new Dora is for 5 year olds and up. Is 5 the new tween? Why is a Dora, concerned about her appearance and clothes and jewelry a good thing for little girls not yet old enough for first grade? Sure, little girls will want the new doll, even beg for her, because media and marketers have sold fashion and shopping as the very definition of girlhood. Little girls love chocolate cake too—but as good parents we don’t feed it to them 24-7. We want a healthy alternative, and the original Dora was just that.
- So we don't buy "it's what girls want and need stuff" (especially when that need and desire has been created by toy companies and TV shows) or that Mattel, a company capitalizing big on Dora’s image, cares about our daughters’ well-being. It's real basic: Mattel knows if they can connect to the tween crossover market they will make a lot more money; but it’s at the expense of the wonderful messages the original Dora offers to girls. Once Dora is remade, even the littlest girls will want the older Dora because they have been effectively sold on the importance of appearance, fashion and shopping. They won't grow up with Dora, they will bypass her for the tween version. That's the loss.
- What about the fact that Dora is Latina? Does it not matter that Dora was not only a great example of a nonstereotypical girl, but a great example of diversity? Is this not lost when girls can change her hair and eye color? Is cultural identity just something you can buy and sell?
- Because no one else is doing it, we have to make the obvious connection between hooking little girls on shopping and both the economy and the environment. Is this really the time to reveal a Dora who costs $60 and travels from the real jungle to the lipstick jungle? Do we really think this is the only way Dora can grow up? A Dora who grows up in the rainforest might still be wearing her shorts and sneakers (even if she moved to the city.) Believe us, 9 and 10 year old girls are still wearing shorts and sneakers, and rarely the bows, earrings, bracelets, leggings, necklace, headband -- accessories that simply mean more $$ to be made off of Dora. She might help little girls make these connections and fight the good fight for the planet, but if she does this in pearl earrings and teen fashion, the message is most certainly undermined for 9 and 10 year old girls everywhere.