Urge To Kill . . . Rising

Previously I mentioned rumors that Nickolodeon and Mattel, who own Dora's rights, were planning on "updating" the image of Dora the explorer. My five-year-old and two-year-old girls love Dora, and my seven-year-old son used to love her and now sits in the room and pretends (badly) not to watch her whenever she is on. Original Dora is not likely to give my daughters body-image hangups. She looks like this:


Nickolodeon and Mattel have carried through on their threat. The new Dora looks like this:


Now, we've already established that I have grave issues, at least where lithe adult Dora impersonators are concerned. So maybe my take on this is skewed. But I can't help but see this as a continuation of entertainment companies tarting everything up and slowly pushing entertainment barriers down — marketing tween (at best) images to toddlers to make money, in other words. The old Dora has baby fat and looks like a cartoon version of a four- or five-year-old. The new Dora has been relentlessly Hannah-Montanized, with a dash of Bratz for good luck. In a world where people sell fuck-me shoes for infants and my five-year-old picks up trashy songs, I should not be surprised.

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. says

    I'm as big of a fan of slapping sex appeal on everything as the next guy with a sexuality that developed through a collection of Hustler magazines in a tree fort.

    But, I'm with you on this one. (Well, I was with you on the heelarious thing too).

    Once, a guy told me that he had a First Amendment right to take a picture of my girlfriend (wife now) because we were on a public beach. I told him that he was absolutely right, but it didn't exempt him from an ass kicking. I beat him fuckin' senseless in front of a crowd of shocked onlookers, and threw his camera in the ocean.

    Similarly, if anyone tries to tell Nickelodeon or Mattel that they can't turn Dora into a little sexualized commercialized tart, I might have a problem with that. But, on the other hand, if I met one of their executives and figured I could get away with it, I'd certainly bust them one in the teeth.

    Marketing anything to kids should get a brick thrown through your window. The problem is, just not enough people can slip out of gear long enough to break enough glass to keep a lid on things.

  2. says

    She's not nearly as bad as I thought she'd be. I don't understand the problem, she doesn't look "sexualized" at all to me.

  3. says

    I'm more disturbed by the new Dora's poor clothing choices. Old Dora's not wearing hiking boots, but her athletic shoes are a better choice than whatever new Dora's wearing. And who goes exploring without a pack full of supplies?

  4. says

    I’m more disturbed by the new Dora’s poor clothing choices. Old Dora’s not wearing hiking boots, but her athletic shoes are a better choice than whatever new Dora’s wearing. And who goes exploring without a pack full of supplies?

    Exactly. The old one is geared to go adventuring. The new one is geared to be pretty.

  5. Mike G says

    I'm seriously annoyed by this and know for a fact that my 6 y/o daughter and 4 y/o son will not be getting anything Dora related that looks like that. The previous Dora was such a good show.

  6. PLW says

    I don't like the princessification of Dora and the suggestion that the only right way to be a little girl is to be cute and skinny and wear a sun dress. But I'm also a little worried by the implication by some commenters that being a girly-girl makes you a whore. I've heard of the false virgin/whore dichotomy. Has it been reborn as the tomboy/whore dichotomy?

  7. says

    Grandy wrote:

    It’s not just about sex, though, but “ideal”. It’ll turn into sex as they get older, of course.


    Stage one, make sure they know what they are supposed to look like.
    Stage two, sell them the things they need to look like that.

  8. says

    PLW, you said what I was thinking. I see girly-fying, not sexualizing.
    I don't get why this is a big deal though. Little Dora will still be here and the girls being targeted by the new Dora would have moved on to Hannah Montana et al anyhow. If there is a tomboy out there being forced into girly roles, that's on her parents. IMHO, of course. As a tomboy who felt ashamed if she even considered girly-girl play.

  9. Patrick says

    ST, do you think it's a problem that there's only one Dora out there for parents who want their kids to see something that isn't girlified, in a marketplace filled with Bratzes and Barbies? To that extent, I agree with Ken.

    Also, I note that the old Dora (allowing for the fact she's a cartoon) has features and hair that can't remotely be described as "anglo" or "white." She has a round head and looks vaguely native american or hispanic. New Dora looks like a stereotypic prom queen with a tan.

    Her hair and skin are also lightened. Will she whiten over time? If old Dora is "Off the Wall" Michael Jackson, is this "Thriller" Michael Jackson? And will there be a "Bad" Michael Jackson to come?

    I assume she'll never suffer a horrible plastic surgery disaster, nor will her head catch fire.

  10. Patrick says

    Hard for me to say TPL, as I'm childless and not into the Dora scene. I'm channeling my sister, whose 3-year-old is just about my favorite person on earth.

    My niece's mom is very upset about this.

  11. says

    Oh no, I do think there is a larger issue regarding the stereotypical girl character for kids. There just seems to be a lot of freaking out about this character in particular. It's my understanding that they are not replacing the old Dora, just adding this one. While I think it's stupid (why not just give Dora's older cousin her own show like they did with Diego?) I don't think it is necessarily some terrible offense. I would like to see what they actually do with the character. Will she turn into a squealing, boy-chaser like so many of the others? Did she ditch Boots because he wasn't cool enough for her new friends? These things will bother me way more than what she's wearing, especially because I don't find her new outfit offensive in the least.

  12. says

    Did she ditch Boots because he wasn’t cool enough for her new friends?

    God, I hope so. As she becomes a boy-chaser, the alternatives start becoming too horrible to mention…

    I am single/never married, and I have no kids…

    A quick aside, how God Damn Shameful is it that these days I have to tell you that I have no kids? Was a time when the former included the latter…

    Anyways, having no kids of my own, I don't really have a dog in this fight, but I think that this change is like if they had made Mr. Rodgers into a hip-hop artist…

    It's stupid, pointless, and I hope to god parents stop turning this show on for their kids. Find something else, folks…

  13. says

    I don't believe anyone has suggested that being "girly girl" is whorish in the comments.

    I don't know Scott's mind, but I don't believe his whora the explora comment is suppsoed to indicate this at all.

  14. says

    Grandy, I think that calling this a sexualization of Dora is implying that the pretty = the sex. However, I haven't seen too much of that here in this conversation.

  15. says

    St, if you don't think they are tarting up Dora to start to edge into Bratz territory, then God Bless you for your good and trusting nature.

    I, however, shall retain my platinum level membership in the "cynical bastard" club, and assume that the intentions of Nickolodeon and Mattel are notwhere near so pure.

  16. says

    St, that interpretation is a stretch I think. I'm of a mind with Scott here with respect to the sex; it goes New Ideal Dora(tm) -> Bratz(tm) -> Whatever comes after that (pretend I make a hooker joke here, just for the funny aspect, and not because I really think pretty = hooker. But I'm not sure what comes next. I have a young niece and haven't peered that far into the future).

    The sex is off on the horizon, yes. Dora the Explora looks like a kid, e.g. "normal". Dora the Whora (I use the name because it's too funny, not becuase that's what I see is a big issue) looks like someone was trying to be clever and make a statement about how society and the media often impose these ridiculous ideals onto women. This is the right figure, these are the right clothes, blah blah blah.

    Except it wasn't someone trying to be clever, this is actually what Mattel marketing wants to do. It's not that it's bad too look like Whora – it isn't – and some girls will and that's fine. It's that they don't all look like that and we shouldn't get this much of a head start in giving them a complex about it. That will get taken care of when they hit teenager status. I don't want to wear them down before time, or they'll never get out alive.

  17. BG says

    Girly-girls can be properly attired for exploring. There are pink rainboots, pink teva-like sandals, etc. About the only item I couldn't quickly find were brightly colored hiking boots. I wouldn't let my child go exploring with slipper shoes and no socks but we regularly see kids dressed inappropriately for Jr. Ranger programs where the description specifically says "wear long pants and shoes, no sandals and bring a water bottle" (about half of the kids do).

    Also, anyone who spends time with a toddler knows they love to carry bags and backpacks around. OK, at least our 4 kids did/do and the boys continued it in the BSA. If Dora won't use a backpack anymore then kids will want someone else's backpack.

    There are some great books on hiking with kids and this Dora fails. Search Hiking with Children at amazon and you'll see that the new Dora is woefully unprepared.

  18. says

    Scott, I can appreciate a hardened cynic even if I am not one ;) It's not that I think they have lofty morals over at Nick/Mattel I just think they are marketing what sells. When girls get to a certain age they are not into Dora anymore.
    I don't believe that gender stereotypes are thrust upon us from these companies but rather, the companies are reflecting society. They may not be helping the situation but they didn't exactly start the fire. If there were adequate representations throughout mainstream childrens characters then I doubt this new Dora would be a problem at all.

    Grandy, I don't know. As a parent it's my job to decide what is okay for my girls. If the new Dora is not out clubbing with the Bratz dolls she seems okay to me. The progression you lay out is only there if I let it be there. No Bratz dolls for us.
    I guess I just don't tend to get to pissed off with companies that are simply looking to sell what actually sells. They reflect the larger problem but they are not actually the problem. I also think Nickelodeon has given us a decent mix of characters so I give them a pass this time. YMMV

  19. astonied says

    I think your caseload of peodophiles will be raising all thanks to Dora. Then your clients will sue the parent company for contributing to their incarceration and you will get a huge cut of the settlement and will be able to retire…all thanks to Dora! See what goes around comes around!