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March 17, 2009

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Motherof2StrongGirls

Responding to these comments:
1. No parent should let their kids have 24-7 Dora no matter what she looks like or how old she is. How could you compare this to chocolate cake? As for what girls look like, as a mom of 2 girls, I assure you, they are just as much concerned about what they look like as they are unconcerned. Most little girls love dress up, and also enjoy getting dirty at the park, there is nothing wrong with either. As for a girl wanting this doll? If it isn't this one, I can assure you it would be another one. The difference is, my 6 year old does NOT want old, baby Dora but instead wants a makeup covered short skirt wearing Bratz doll.

2. Mattel of course is concerned about money, that is what business is all about. It is up to us as parents to decide what we purchase, what we allow our kids to play with or see on TV. I prefer this Dora over some of the alternatives that are on the market. There has been this huge outrage over Tween Dora, but what about the Bratz dolls who are wearing all of the makeup, and skimpy clothes? And I don't agree that all little girls will bypass young Dora for this new one. My 3 year old has seen both and prefers the younger one. Obviously, I can't speak for all little girls, but I must think that those that would jump would have jumped to something else anyway - with or without the tween Dora.

3. Changing eye color/hair color. Are you saying that all latinos are brown hair and dark eyed ONLY? I am sure if we canvas the country we can find LOTS of different Latino mixes of all looks. Why do YOU make the stereotypical assumption that all must be dark hair dark eyed? Young children don't look at eye color, hair color or skin color the same way we do as adults, and I appreciate that. The fact that my daughter picked out a white doll for her black friend's birthday and thought nothing of it is a token to her innocence. (And the fact that her friend accepted it with the same innocence) It really is too bad that we have to concentrate on such minor things instead of on the person who lies within.

4. Just because Dora wears stylish clothes does not mean that she can't explore. I am sure that there are plenty of well dressed scientists, doctors, humanitarians and explorers out there in the world. Dora isn't even out in the market yet, and people are already jumping to the conclusion that it is going to be all about shopping and makeup. As I'm sure there will be some of that because little girls DO like that, but why not give the new Dora a chance to show us what she is going to be all about? Besides, if anyone has kids like mine, most of their dolls end up losing their clothes anyway. Do we dare say that the naked barbies in my daughter's room are going to scar her for life? Oh no! Perhaps that is what caused me to have so many problems. After all, I played with half naked, unproportioned dolls all of the time! How dare my parents allow that?!?

By jumping to conclusions about what this new doll will be, aren't we setting a BAD example to our young daughters. We try to teach them not to judge a book by it's cover? And not to assume you know everything about someone without getting to know them. Are we not being hypocrites?

As parents, we need to take the responsibility for raising our daughters, this is not Dora's job (as young Dora or Tween Dora) nor is it Mattel's job. If you don't like a doll that is on the market, simple answer - don't buy it. But stop wasting your energy complaining about a doll who hasn't done anything yet when there are so many bigger concerns in today's world.

Lyn Mikel Brown

We're not sure why the defense of Mattel (forgive us for being just a tad suspicious), or why you would accuse us of wasting our time when the issues we raise are clearly important enough for you to take the time to write such a long and careful response, but let us say again why the Dora makeover is something that bothered us and the nearly 10,000 parents who have signed the petition.

Sure, parents have the choice to say no to products they don't like, but when the products take over a child's media (internet, toy, book, clothing, TV, movie, cereal) world, as the new Dora will certainly do, that choice is, well, compromised a good bit. So those of us concerned about how large companies like Mattel create the reality our children will consume simply to pad their bottom line, while telling us it's for girls' own good, have every right to speak up. But that wasn't actually the reason behind this campaign. Here's a few points we've made in other contexts that bear repeating.

1. Dora was the ONE girl character who was not made over into a fashion and appearance conscious tween. Really, the only one. Little girls get enough messages that growing up female means shopping and fashion. Come on, you can't think of another way to grow up girl? Then you've bought in to the manufactured dream. We hoped for one alternative. If Dora had to grow up, couldn't she remain true to her explorer, adventurer self? Couldn't she keep her backpack and compass? Her pet monkey? This leads us to the next point.

2. Dora's "growing up" tween means creating a doll for 5 year-olds. Calling 5 year-olds "tweens" is a new low. Literally and figuratively. Part of our concern as developmental psychologists is the way marketers have grabbed hold of the youngest girls and sold them a version of growing up that narrows their interests and options at a time when they should be doing exactly what Dora does, exploring the world and solving problems. If the original Dora is too young for your 5 year old, Mattel and Nick are smart enough to fix that without giving her a tween makeover.
They just went the route of the most potential profit.

3. The Latina point is one we will not back down on. Using race as just another accessory for girls is just plain wrong. Race and ethnicity are about culture and identity. It's not something companies should be buying and selling.

No doubt we haven't convinced you, but we choose more options for girls over Mattel's rather lame defense for narrowing those options.

Lyn

Dessa

OMG, just get over it!! People don't remain the same age, (we all wish) and people don't look the same forever. Everyone grows up and changes. Why can't a cartoon character??? People tend to blow things way out of proportion!! GET OVER IT!
I totally support the Dora change.

Lyn Mikel Brown

Sure everyone grows up, but this is a doll, and that means a company who wants to make money decides what it means to grow up, and over and over again companies, of course, decide the same thing: if you can convince little girls that being a girl is all about fashion and shopping you can be sure your company will make a lot of money off those little shoppers. What I don't understand is how you can defend that narrow, persistent, unimaginative, greedy message and its impact not only on girls, but on the environment. So don't tell us to get over it--maybe you should get a conscience and even a little bit of critical awareness about how marketing works and how increasingly it's aimed at the littlest kids. Sheesh.

Jennifer

Aren't you being a little harsh to Dessa? Not that new Dora is better than old Dora.

Ben Clohesy

Not harsh at all - it's an insidious set of values that is introduced without any consent on the parent or the child.

Dora has always been a good option for my first daughter - the number of times we've been climbing through trees and parks with backpacks being Dora the Explorer is wonderful. And yes, I can do that anyway, but the examples set by characters such as Dora are driven through a medium which kids love.

Cheers,
Ben

PS: And don't forget us dads trying to help our girls grow up and strong and hardy :)

Jennifer

I am not saying that the new Dora is "better" than the old Dora. I am saying that not everyone hates the new Dora and everyone has different opinions.

ohplease

How is Dora fighting for the good of the planet being strong a bad message? You people are the sexist ones, not Dora. What race changing? Girls choosing? The only reason girls would want to choose new over old Dora is if they are at least nine. Oh no, cute clothes, this is UNACCEPTABLE! Get the Title IX board on the phone at once! How is this too racist? Hannah Montana is more racist than this; Miley can't be famous w/o being Hannah Montana, and she can't even be Hannah w/o a blonde wig. Viacom is not evil! Bakers don't urge people to get fat. When will you people learn?

Lisa McLeod

I can't believe how many people like Ohplease have posted here! Get a clue! It seems that the media moguls have been very successful at manipulating a generation of kids who have now grown up to be parents and have been so brainwashed that they don't see the problem with how girls are portrayed in the media. They have bought into the narrow definition of what it means to be "a girl," and seem to think that it is just inevitable that when girls "grow up" fashion, make-up, and shopping are what that means.

I want to thank you, Lyn, for standing up for girls and raising awareness, even if some people out there just don't have the critical thinking skills to understand how they and their children are being manipulated.

Jennifer

Yeah, well they're comparing girly stuff to chocolate cake, and then saying marketers are evil 'cause they want to turn little girls into little Britney/Hilary Duff/Lindsay Lohan clones. Bakers don't urge people to get fat.

Besides, girls can be smart/tough w/o risking their femininity. If boys can be sensitive w/o risking their masculinity, girls can be assertive w/o risking their femininity.

Common Sense Media:

Dora and friends solve mysteries that usually have a social responsibility theme. Volunteerism, water conservation, and recycling all are discussed and the girls can be seen organizing a beach clean-up, volunteering at an animal shelter, and planting community gardens. The five main characters each are shown to like different things, such as sports, science, reading, and music.

I hate the stereotype of a girl not being strong just for embracing her femininity. Unfortunately, many people/movies reinforce this stereotype. Is PG any different?

Jennifer

There are men who are sensitive and strong and shown that they can be caring without risking their masculinity. It can be a dad, a teacher, a pro athlete, etc.

SEE?

Jennifer

Though maybe not Chris Brown or Tiger Woods...

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