Monday, October 11, 2010

Dora the Teenage Mom??

SWhen Mattel introduced a new "tween" Dora the Explorer, mothers of toddlers everywhere mourned the death of the lovable, pudgy kid who taught us how to solve problems as she navigated her way through the woods on missions to help others. Uproar about Dora's new look sparked controversy online, despite Mattel's reassurance that the tween Dora was simply an addition to the line and the original Dora wasn't going anywhere.

The new Dora has longer hair, a thinner body, and small pearl earrings. She is pictured as a teenage version of the original Dora, yet she wears a long tunic with purple leggings and some ballet flats. It is true that she does look more grown up than the previous pudgy girl who wore shorts and sneakers, but there is an indubitable different between the criticisms of mothers and the true appearance of her new character. They rally behind the idea that Dora will begin to “explore her sexuality instead of explore the woods” and begin to list the variety of things Dora would begin to do like drink, smoke, and get pregnant.

It makes me wonder why mothers are so concerned about the image on the left when I didn't hear anything from mothers when Lizzie McGuire started shopping for bras and started sporting a new look with tighter clothes that showed off Hilary Duff's recently acquired "assets." Mothers have actually created a petition against the new tween Dora, complaining that they have lost the "only Latina role model for children" to the Bratz-like materialistic craze of many girly products.

In this edited version of Mattel's released picture, Dora is seen sporting many of the stereotypes of Latinas. She is a smoker, an alcoholic, and a soon-to-be teenage mom. There's a tattoo on her arm and a welfare check in her beloved "backpack, backpack," and the new facial discoloration suggest she's been on drugs on some sort. Honestly, it all seems a little far fetched for a girl who is just going on to middle school sporting a newer look.


  1. Jocelyn, I love your blog post; I had no idea that Dora was undergoing a makeover! I completely agree that parents are overreacting with this concept that allowing Dora to grow up a bit will take the whole program into a new direction that would encourage outrageous behavior. I don't see how the introduction of this new tween Dora means that experimenting with drugs, sexuality, and alcohol will suddenly take over the show. I feel that the new Dora is simply a response to the ever-changing media demands as kids seem to be more interested in older characters like Miley Cyrus or those portrayed in the High School Musical series.

    A bit off topic but I found this youtube video that uses Dora to poke fun at the movie Inception:


  2. I actually had seen this image a few weeks ago and wrote my paper on it and Vanessa you make a great point that how does the transformation mean the exploration of drugs, sexuality and alcohol. Well, several studies of Transnational Latinas show as Dora being the Latina that nonlatinos learn about Latinos from. Therefore, by recreating this image of Tween Dora that explores all different aspects that society associates with Latinas.

  3. I really like the post on Dora and after reading it I was curious about other educational children’s shows that are bilingual. I happened upon a show called Handy Manny, which stars Manny, the bilingual Hispanic handyman, who teaches kids Spanish basics, how to work together and the importance of cultural diversity with his talking tools. Dora came out six years before Handy Manny and with her success seemed to pave the way for more shows of the bilingual, Latino and educational nature. However, although I realize that children’s shows tend to simplify interactions and character depth is more for the benefit of teaching good values to our children, Handy Manny seems to play into these stereotypes more than most. Manny fits the profile of the Hispanic man working in manual labor type jobs like that of a handyman. Also one of his tools that seems to brag, loudly the most exemplifies the excess aspect of the Latino stereotype we talked about and is the only one with a Hispanic accent. Although some may express concern about Manny playing into these stereotypes, just like parents were expressing concern with the new teenager Dora, the morals and lessons the characters teaches kids is far more valuable than worrying the stereotypes will rub off on your kid; it seems to me that parents who overreact to things like this are just wasting energy better spent parenting their kids. Let’s be honest, there are worse things in life than becoming a friendly, helpful, bilingual handyman or wanting to travel the world like Dora, even if she does it in a training bra now.

  4. This post has definitely caught my attention, especially having to watch it couple years back because my nieces adored Dora. I understand your argument that parents are overreacting with the new Dora but at the same time, I feel as though Dora shouldn't be changed. Not only will this change its target audience, which I think consists mostly of children, but it loses originality. Like with many shows or even movies, the first is always the preferable one. I feel like the transformation will lose viewers as well.

  5. So parents are concerned because Dora is becoming sexualized by growing up? The fact that parents feel this concerns me! I mean Dora is growing up but does that mean that every little girl who grows up becomes too sexy to leave the house? Sure she’s thinner, taller, and wearing more feminine clothing, but doesn’t this happen to everyone? It seems like parents are worried about their own children growing up and pointing out normal aspects of puberty to support their sexuality argument. If this were a little boy he would be able to grow up without protest, but because it’s a girl, now that she has long hair and is wearing a dress she is automatically becomes too sexualized for television. She is only a child and won’t start exploring her sexuality immediately when she puts on a dress and some earrings. I think it’s perfectly normal for a character to grow up. Dora the Explorer does one of the better jobs of introducing language to children in an educational environment without portraying negative Latin@ stereotypes. I doubt producers are going to change aspects of their show that have made it so popular with viewers and parents (i.e. stop Dora from exploring). Another television show that has similar aspects like Dora is Dragon Tales. I believe it’s similar to Dora in the way that it does segments that teach children popular words and phrases in Spanish. I believe shows like these are good for children because they expose children to other cultures and languages. If they want the character of Dora to grow up with her audience it shouldn’t be a big deal and I think parents have bigger things to worry about than a cartoon character going through puberty.

  6. This is so messed up. I can't believe that they even thought about airing this show. I'm appalled. They're making Dora a druggie, who has no control. What message is the media really trying to put out? I've never watched a real episode but I thought that she was a great character the way she was. Especially for the kids who did watch, they loved Dora. What kind of image will be put into their heads if they see such a transformation from Dora? It seems like an all bad move on their part. I wonder who suggested this idea, and why they agreed with the idea. Why couldn't they make her successful and set her a good role model?

    It sounds like they are trying to get rid of Dora. Like with the Rugrats. They created Rugrats All Grown-Up and it was awful, but they tried to make all the characters seem morally good. In every situation and learned from a greater message. This really upsets me.