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Showing posts with label Dora. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dora. Show all posts

19 March 2009

And Coquí points the way (aka more on Dora)

My Dora watching started way before my daughter came along.

One day I was flipping around the TV channels and stopped on a cartoon of a Latina. A Latina that looked like my sister-in-law. My husband & I quickly got her son, our nephew, hooked on Dora. Success! Thus we knew that Dora would have a place in our life.

I've seen and enjoyed more Dora than an adult woman should admit to, but I have. I remember that my husband & I were fixated with where does Dora live? As Latin@s of Mexican decent, we always jump to Mexico first. But it was the episode with El Coquí that did it for me. One quick web search for the Coquí turned up Puerto Rico. This made sense with the lush jungles and forests that Dora & Boots spent 22 minutes discovering.

Part of the press release on New Dora that hasn't gotten a lot of buzz is that Dora & family are moving on up to the big city!

As tweenage Dora, our heroine has moved to the big city, attends middle school and has a whole new fashionable look.

This of course explains why Dora has to ditch poor Boots.

But it is also ironic that Mattel & Nick have moved Dora from the safety of rural Puerto Rico to San Juan? Why is it ironic?

It was in 2005 that Mattel, thru it's American Doll enterprise, moved a teen Latina from inner city Chicago to the safety of the suburbs:
On Tuesday, around 50 students from Rudy Lozana Leadership Academy picketed American Girl Place, demanding the company apologize for depicting their neighborhood as crime-ridden in the latest Marisol Luna book, released along with the newest doll in the American Girl series.

Has gentrification made big cities safe enough for our heroine to live in?

Safe or not, clearly Mattel has struck out again on trying to rope in Latinas with a tween doll. In the comments at Feministing, where they quoted my Dora post, commentors were asking why Mattel just didn't invent an older sister or cousin. The problem is that Dora does have an older cousin - Diego's sister Alicia. She would be an excellent tween doll. But Mattel knows something about spin-off dolls. Do girls go ga-ga over Skipper or Midge? No. It's all about Barbie. And Dora is money, not Alicia.

If Mattel is reading this, invite me over to a testing center. Let me, my husband and our 5-year-old a chance to check out New Dora. If she's as girl power as you say she is, I want to see. Honestly. I don't trust you to do this right, but if you did, I'll admit it.

16 March 2009

Why Mattel & Nick have it wrong

Mattel finally let us in on how the new Dora will look. I have to admit that she doesn't look as bad as I thought she would.

She looks like almost any 10-year-old you would see running around this world. If this was the image for a new cartoon with a smart and adventurous Latina as the lead, I think we'd have a party to celebrate. But it's not. It's our dear beloved Dora the Explorer.

Mattel & Nick are upset at us moms for attacking the tweening of Dora:

"I think there was just a misconception in terms of where we were going with this," Gina Sirard, vice president of marketing at Mattel, says. "Pretty much the moms who are petitioning aging Dora up certainly don't understand. ... I think they're going to be pleasantly happy once this is available in October, and once they understand this certainly isn't what they are conjuring up."

But even with a nice drawing of New Dora, I'm still not happy with this move.

First, New Dora will be computerized and one of the options will be to change her eye color. As the #1 Latina role model for girls, I think that it's inappropriate for the doll to be able to change its eye color. The dominant standard for beauty is still blond with blue eyes. There is a classic race experiment that was recreated in 2006 where black girls preferred white dolls. Is there a chance we are sending a message to the Latinas playing with New Dora that they should also want to change their eye color? (Yes, I know not all Latinas have cafe brown eyes, but Dora does.)

Second, Boots gets the boot. Dora has grown up and ditched her childhood friends for a gaggle of tween girls. Up until now most of Dora's friends have been boys - Boots, Tico, Bennie and even Swiper, who displays classic crush signs by always annoying Dora - but once she hits tweenage, she's all about the girls? Why couldn't Dora at least keep Boots as her BFF and add a few new girls to the picture? Why not Isa at least? I also admit that the first thought of Dora & gals is gossipy, mall-going-gals. Hopefully Dora & gang will be more Traveling Pants than Gossip Girl.

Third, the shoes. Yes, they are cute, but they are not adventurous shoes. Nancy Drew wore loafers. Sally Brown wore tennis shoes.

I freely admit that I'm making all these assumptions by taking in the world around our daughters and leaping. The same world that pushes our girls to rip out their pubic hair before it's fully grown in, the same world that is helping to push eating disorders from high school to grade school, the same world that says that 10 is the new 15, which is the new 22. The sexualization of our daughters can not be ignored. We must be on guard.

Nickelodeon and Mattel say that as part of unrelated research, they found parents wanted a way to keep Dora in their children's lives and have their daughters move on to a toy that was age appropriate.

What Mattel & Nick are doing is feeding our need to keep our girls as young as possible with the theory that our 6-year-olds will want an older Dora. I'm sure some will. Heck, I'm almost certain mine will.

But the real question is why do we want our kids to clutch to Dora until college? Well because we see what lurks in the other parts of the toy aisles. The dolls-we-don't-mention-and-walk-fast-past. We see how even girl clothes are snug and form fitting. That their clothes don't seem to be made for playing, rather posing.

And that's what Mattel and Nick don't get.

The outrage is not just about Dora, it is because we know that Dora is the safe one. The good girl. The toy and cartoon that we haven't had to monitor. Any tampering with our Dora rocks our world. If Dora isnt' safe, what the hell will we do?

The outrage is powered by pent up outrage over the sexualization of our daughters, of their dolls and their clothing.

The outrage is far more than just tween-ifying Dora. It is about all the other small things that inch our daughters closer to 90210 and further away from cuddling with us on the couch with the Backyardigans. It'll happen in its own time...if society let it happen in its own time.

Thanks to The Unexpected Twists & Turns, Feministing, Boston.com, Greg Laden's Blog, Alas, a blog & Metafilter for the linky love. Welcome new readers! I've also added a Dora tag to all my Dora posts for easy access to all my other Dora rantings.

08 March 2009

The Slut-ification of Dora is now complete

Over two years ago I picked up on a warning that Hoyden About Town posted about: Dora was growing up. She wasn't growing up in the Jodi Foster way. She wasn't packing her beloved BackPack for Yale, UCLA or Evergreen. She was thinning out and getting sexy.

Mattel, the makers of all things Dora (except the ones at the flea market), has said:

As tweenage Dora, our heroine has moved to the big city, attends middle school and has a whole new fashionable look. What’s more, she now has a rich online world in which girls can explore, play games, customize, and most importantly solve mysteries with Dora and her new friends. Adding to the play value, Dora’s online world is interactive with the new doll line.
Mattel & Nickelodeon somehow think that if Dora grows up with the audience, that they won't lose market share to a certain doll who is celebrating her 50th birthday. What is scary about this change is the Dr. Frankenstein aspect of the new "interactive" Dora:

By plugging the doll into the computer, girls can access Dora’s brand-new interactive online world. This exciting innovation in computer-connected play offers girls a unique interactive experience: as girls are playing online they can customize their doll and watch as she magically transforms right before their eyes. For example, by changing Dora’s hair length, jewelry, and eye color on screen, the Dora doll magically changes as well.

YOU GET TO CHANGE DORA'S EYE COLOR!! Don't like her Latina cafe colored eyes? No problem. I wonder how long it will take for Mattel to offer Dora red highlights or even going blond so she can look like Shakira.

Now we, parents & the media, can all sit on our hands and blame Mattel & Nick for taking our doe-eyed Dora and turning her into a Latina Gossip-Girl, but you better take that finger and point it at yourself if you've ever:
  • Taken your 3-7 year-old-girl for a make-over at one of those stores that drowns the girl in glitter, gives them a mani-pedi and helps them "discover" the joys of being a girl;
  • Bought your 3-7 year-old anything with Hannah Montana or High School Musical;
  • Bought your 3-7 year old clothes that were made with high schoolers in mind.
I could go on and on, but I won't. I think you get the idea.

I'm not the perfect mom, but I've kept these issues in the fore-front of my mind for much longer than I've been a mom. Much to the chagrin of friends & family who buy my 5yo daughter things that are too mature for her, I have kept the 2-year ban on all things Dora that falls in the sexy column. I want my 5yo to enjoy her childhood and grow up as slowly as possible. I've seen the looks I get when I say that I don't let her watch High School Musical or other shows like that.

But you know what...I was prepared for the slut-ification of Dora.

We can't expect to buy our 5-7-year-old girls media & clothing meant for older girls and not see a market ripple effect. Mattel & Nick NEED to let Dora grow up to have any access to our girls who skip "American Doll" and go right into the 10-is-the-new-17-aisle.

Did you really think anything good would come from Dora trading in Backpack for an "electronic adventure set" that contains "a Play Cellphone, Comb, Bracelet, Heart shaped bag and Earrings?"

Yes, I had dress-up things too, but Dora was supposed to be different and we all took that for granted. We thought we could always have Dora there to resuce our daughters from the clutches of the other crap out there. She'd be there when we tired of seeing yet another starlet on the cover of FHM. She'd pop out each time our kindergartener said that "that's a boy thing!"

Are you finally ready to get off your hands and this time WE rescue Dora? I hope so.

And to Mattel & Nick: If you're going to let Dora grow up and get all sexy, I have a few suggestions on appropriate growing-up Dora sets:

  • My first period: Boots alerts Dora of a chocolate stain on her skirt. Backpack to the rescue! Pads, tampons & pain reliever!
  • HPV shot: Mami takes Dora to get her HPV test, but not before a long debate on whether it is safe or not;
  • Space camp Dora: Just like Tish in "Space Camp," Dora heads off to sharpen her science skills wearing fashionable (althou embarrassing in 20 years) outfits;
  • My first trip to the OBGYN: While Dora is going to wait for sex, she does need to visit the OBGYN/midwife/Planned Parenthood so she can know what the hell is happening to her body and how she is in charge of her body.
And maybe, maybe Dora does need to have sex in high school. She can be in control of her sexuality and sluff off the SLUT label that so many Latinas get, whether or not we're having sex.

And Dora: It's not me, it's your makers. I still love you & your spunky ways. But I can't let my daughter join you in your new adventure. But we'll see you in re-runs. xoxo, your best mama friend, Veronica.

28 November 2007

Dora the Explorer of Eating Disorders

My heart literally sank when I saw this post about the latest Dora dolls. What happened to my daughter's best doll friend? Just the other day she was a happy-go-lucky exploradora and now she looks like she needs a few tamales! I may need to order "Yum! Mmmm! Que Rico!" for Dora for Christmas. Come on Fisher Price, you're killing us here!

Here's a few reasons why I love Dora:
  1. She's Latina: How many Latinas can a Latina watch on TV nowadays? I keep our cartoon watching to Noogin, so outside of Dora & Diego's sister, Alicia, that brings us to zero.
  2. She's adventurous: She's not afraid of a challenge. Find baby blue bird's mommy? No problem. Take Santa his gift? A snap.
  3. She shows that when you need help, you ask for it: Map, Backpack, & Boots are her constant side-kicks aka helpers. Dora's not afraid to ask for help when she needs it and that is an invaluable lesson. Especially for the daughter of two perfectionists with her own perfectionist tendencies.
When Dora was princess-ified, I was ticked. NOT because I hate princesses - I eat my Almond Vanilla Special K every morning from a Little Mermaid bowl. Honest. Well, unless I grab the Tigger bowl. I was ticked because Dora was the princess alternative. She flew through trees, climbed mountains, and flew in Tico's plane all without a thought to her hair or how dirty her white sneakers would get. I came to be ok with the princess thing only because Dora kept going on adventures.

Are these dolls FP's way of trying to keep the ever growing (in years) Dora fans interested in their early childhood friend? Do the dolls come with the tagline, "Vamanos! Let's hit the rest room together so we can hold each other's hair back as we puke!" Because seriously, Dora looks like she needs to eat something. She goes from looking like a child to looking like the Latina Jon Benet. UGH! Can you tell how ticked I am at this?

After reading the blog post, I sent an email off to my family reaffirming my wishes for a toy-less Christmas* AND a plea that if they do buy my daughter a toy, please do NOT buy her the new Dora dolls. We have plenty of Dora dolls in the house, Dora can very easily wear frilly things without having to lose so much weight.

I've written before about the sexualization of our daughters and I fear that the new Dora toys are playing right into this. It really is quite sad for me. The one cartoon (I count Diego in there too) that I felt was safe to go crazy with has turned on my daughter. What does it say to a 4-year-old who would get a new skinnier Dora doll? Don't they know that kids play with all their dolls together? "Hi chubby Dora, want to go to the mall?" Of course they do, but FP doesn't care. If they did, they wouldn't be putting out this doll. Gawd, this is worse that "I hate math" Barbie.

This post will be cross-posted to my Chicago Parent blog, The Red Thread.

*This is due to two reasons: 1) the toy recall insanity and 2) she has more toys than she can play with.

Technorati tags: Dora, Fisher Price, eating disorders, sexualization

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