Media Skepticism

"Dora the Fashionista with Stylish Purse and Stilettos": A Fashion Lesson from a Girl Who Doesn't Know Nothin' About Fashion

So here’s the deal. Dora the Explorer is expanding into new horizons and audiences and a “tweenage” version of the popular, young cartoon character has been unveiled which will be made into an “interactive doll” (whatever that means).

Parents are pissed. They think that the new Dora is too “sexed up” and the description of her in the above linked article does not help:

Next fall, Dora the Explorer may be trading in her androgynous bob and shorts for big hair, pumps and a miniskirt.

Even better is the petition that is now online, with over 11,000 signatures already, which declares in the opening rant:

Alas, we saw the signs. The cute flower lip gloss, the pinkified look, the sudden separation of Dora and Diego shows. We could have, should have predicted this after we saw the likes of Strawberry Shortcake, Holly Hobby, and Trollz (now with the ubiquitous commodified girl power “z”), all made over in the cute sexy way that marketers sell maturity to girls–the sassy wink, the long flowing hair, the thin waist, the turned out hip pose of practiced lingerie models.

Oh noes! I sense a slippery slope coming up…

What next? Dora the Cheerleader? Dora the fashionista with stylish purse and stilettos? Dora the Pop Star with Hoppin’ Dance Club and “Juice” Bar? We can expect it all, because that’s what passes as “tween” in the toy department these days.

Aahhhhh! And then God will smite all of America and there will be plagues of locusts and blood raining from the skies!

Hold on. What exactly does this new sexed up Dora doll look like?


Oh kay… Now, I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about fashion. If an outfit requires more than one minute of thought to put together it’s not worth it for me, and the same goes for hairstyles, but those are hardly pumps and a mini-skirt, k?

She happens to wearing a type of shoe known as “ballet flats” (i.e. these) which I should think are more conservative than sexed up. Hell, even some mary janes have a bit of a heel.

That is not a mini-skirt. It’s… well, I don’t know the term for this, but the point is she’s wearing it over leggings. She has her legs covered and they’re not covered in nylons or fishnets. It’s leggings. I have personal feelings about the aethetics of girls wearing leggings which I will not comment on (because who am I to comment on fashion?), but the key thing is she has her legs covered and it’s not nylons or fishnets. It’s leggings which are sort of like… skin-tight-ish capris.

I think when it comes to leggings, the place where even the prudest of parents should draw the line, which happens to be where my school’s dress code draws it, is when it’s just leggings and a t-shirt and nothing really to cover anything below the waist.

What are you dressing your girls in anyway? Heel-length dresses and petticoats? Are you members of the FLDS or something?

Back to the petition:

We don’t need any more tween dolls teaching girls that growing up means turning into a fashionista, excited about secrets and crushes and going shopping.

What’s wrong with fashion, secrets, crushes, and going shopping? I hardly get excited about shopping, fashion, and secrets, but I don’t have a problem with being dragged out to the mall once in a while. My only qualms with that would be if were the only thing tweens get excited about. There is, after all, a whole other universe out there.

Any other complaints?

We don’t need dolls that replicate the thin ideal. The APA Sexualization of Girls Task Force report shows that teens only rarely achieve this body type and when they don’t they are vulnerable to depression and body image problems.

Body image is a valid concern, but are you bloody kidding me? I can’t really tell in real life people, or from animated people but she hardly looks like a size 0. If anything the dress-thing, while fashionable, may make her look like she’s not entirely flat around the belly.

Sure, all of the above are valid concerns, but I think that they’re obviously misplaced in the case of the new Dora. Feel free to disagree with me. Like I said, I don’t know nothin’ about fashion either way.

But I can sympathise. Fashion is not the most important thing in the world. Not by a long shot. I’m going back to reading about science now.

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  1. March 27, 2009 at 10:26 pm —

    I’ve been wanting to write something just like this about the whole Dora outrage. But I looked at that image and decided there was something I was missing… maybe there was another picture somewhere that I hadn’t seen.

    I was certain that THIS wasn’t what the outrage was all about. I think she looks respectable and cute. If my 12 year old wanted to dress like this Dora, I’d have no problem with it.

    But no, I was wrong… this IS what people are up in arms about. Whores these days are really dressing down to entice the tweeners, aren’t they?

    Now, Elles, stop watching Dora before you end up pregnant and on the pot!

  2. March 27, 2009 at 10:56 pm —

    Not that it matters anyways. Dora was already a stupid show. She talks like everyone is stupid: “EEEssssttttuuuupppiiiiddddooo, Dooooooo yyyyoooouuuu knnnooowww wwhhaatt tthhhiiisss mmmeaaaanss?” And repeats the same word 3 times. Anwyways, maybe you should add a “the stupid, it burns!” poster for this situation. ^_^

  3. March 28, 2009 at 12:44 am —

    Elyse, the key part of the story is that the outrage about the “sexed-up” tween Dora all comes from before Dora’s new look was actually revealed. The thing about a mini-skirt and pumps? Just some crazy supermom’s fevered brain producing some kind of nightmare. Because apparently there aren’t enough real things to be worried about, so we have to get all crazy over announcements of changes to children’s TV characters. And if we wait until we actually know what the changes will be, well, then it will be too late.

    I’m going to pre-emptively protest whatever new Barbie Mattel produces. I don’t know what it is or whether they even have plans to produce a new doll. But I’m sure that, whatever it is, it’s horribly offensive to my sensibilities and completely inappropriate for my (equally hypothetical) children!

  4. March 28, 2009 at 1:25 pm —

    I agree with everyone above me. I saw the picture of the new Dora and thought, “This is what they’re upset about?” But the fact that these parents got outraged before they even saw the new design is just plain sad. She looks just fine, and nothing at all like a Bratz doll, which is what I was picturing at first. Is there is an anti-petition I can sign?

  5. March 28, 2009 at 3:02 pm —

    I am still pissed, and here is why. The old Dora was about a girl who was an explorer first, girl second. She wore boots, had a backpack, sensible shorts, and a Velma haircut. She was toddleresque, age appropriate.

    This Dora obviously puts being pretty first. Great, girls don’t get that message nearly enough. How the hell is Dora going to explore anything except Claire’s at the Mall in this outfit?

    Heidi Anderson

  6. March 28, 2009 at 3:59 pm —

    I think I remember reading somewhere that the above image of tween-Dora was originally released as a silhouette…

    Now, as a silhouette, I can at least understand why some people could get nervous. It certainly would look like she could be wearing a miniskirt.

    But any “outrage” now is surely misplaced. Is the new Dora fashionable? Sure, I guess. But she’s not a Pussycat Doll or even a Brat (is that the proper singular version of ‘Bratz’). I wouldn’t have any problem with my hypothetical teenage daughter dressing like Dora, or indeed emulating her in other ways.

    I wonder if this fauxtrage is a symptom of the same “Oh my god, my little girl is growing up!” nervousness that parents experience toward their own children.

  7. vreify
    March 29, 2009 at 10:21 am —

    I was thinking about commenting on this too. She’s wearing a tunic, which I guess some people take to be a minidress, but hers is clearly not form-hugging or meant to be sexy. And she’s wearing a headband! C’mon!

    Anyway, who knows if this new Dora doll will say things like “math is hard.” I sincerely hope not, and I’m pretty sure that after this outrage they will reconsider what kind of roles they will put her in. But her appearance is nothing to get upset about. It’s the equivalent of “OMG, my children are growing up! STOP!”

  8. kayla_unkempt
    March 29, 2009 at 3:48 pm —

    I don’t think Dora’s been “sexed up”, and I certainly don’t think parents should be flipping out over the “makeover”.

    The only problem I can find is, like heidiho mentioned, it’s hard to explore anything but the mall in flats and leggings. Maybe a pair of pretty pink sneakers would have sufficed?

  9. March 30, 2009 at 10:16 am —

    Hm… I suppose that “putting pretty first” is a valid concern which I hadn’t really thought of. So maybe Dora won’t be crossing any rivers anytime soon… but I guess you can still do math dressed like that.

    There’s nothing to say that NewDora won’t still be teaching good concepts. But granted, it would be kinda neat if she had a lab coat on over all that.

  10. March 30, 2009 at 10:23 am —

    You’ll have to wait for Post-Doc Dora, coming in 2017.

  11. March 30, 2009 at 10:30 am —

    Elles: The nice thing is that lab coats accessorise well with every outfit. =)

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