In Loving Memory of Dora The Explorer

Im guessing most of us know of Dora the Explorer? Id aged out of the target audience before she came onto the scene, but Ive still become aware of her.

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So, to summarise, she’s a small girl. Presumably the same age as her target audience. And, she’s an explorer, not a princess or some sh*t. She speaks Spanish, and teaches it to the kids, has a talking backpack, a pet monkey, and a boy-sidekick named Diego. Pretty nice role-model for little girls, overall, and I like her. So do a lot of parents.

Then, at some point, it was decided that Dora needed a rebrand, and we got this

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Now, Ive not watched her show. I have no idea if she still explores, or what. But she seems to have acquired a gang of female friends (cos girls need girl friends, duh), carefully styled hair, pink and purple outfit, and rather slimmer proportions. I know kids kinda elongate as they grow, but come on. Did they need to make her slimmer? At least she doesn’t have a chest yet, and for all I know the young Dora is still entertaining children. Who am I to blame her designers for trying to extend her appeal?

And up until recently, I didn’t. Sure, it would have been great if she’d been given a less girly look, but whatever. So long as she’s still out there exploring then she’s still Dora. But last week, I decided to drop into TK Maxx on the way home from work, and I came across this

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I have no in-box photos because my camera batteries were flat and I couldn’t be bothered to wait. What we have here, is a Dora doll. Made by Mattel, since it turns out you really cant read where it says that in the photo. My attention was first caught by the doll herself

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Again, hard to see. Im thinking maybe theres a trick to photographing packaging that Im not aware of. Anyway, theres high heeled boots that Id never let a kid wear, and there seems to be a bit of a chest situation going on. Her only accessories are a clip and a hair brush, and who exactly is going exploring in that dress?

Inside her box we have a card containing a code to unlock her online world or whatever, her four female friends, and that’s it

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Nothing to do with exploring, no backpack, compass, anything like that. Just something about her ‘backstage dress up game’

This is repeated on the back of the box, telling us how we can style Dora, and dress her up. If we buy the dolls of her friends, we can unlock and dress them too.

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Why is Dora backstage? I have a nasty feeling its a fashion show. Why is it that almost every doll seems to need ‘fashion’ to play such a role in what they do, even when it makes no sense? I think the worst example Ive seen to date would have to be Bratzillaz, who attend a school for fashion and magic, of all things, but this comes close. If they really want to sell clothes for the doll, give her a dressing-up box or something more age-appropriate! And actually, they aren’t even selling separate clothes it looks like, so why are we pushing her as a fashion doll? Looking around online suggests that this website in fact has more than just dress up games, there are mysteries to solve and suchlike, so why are those not mentioned? This doll basically isn’t Dora, as far as I can tell. And then we have the doll.

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What in the hell? Her website reckons she’s in middle school, ‘moved to the big city’, and I just. Gah. Why. Do middle schools normally allow boots like that?

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This isn’t me being an uptight prude, children who are still growing shouldn’t wear shoes like this. The bones in their feet are still forming, and soft. Luckily, she can swap some of Jolinas outfits. This is better

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Im gonna repaint her face too, those bug-eyes are a bit freaky.

The thing is though, here I sit ranting about how this doll is abandoning the original identity of Dora the Explorer, yet I bought her. I think sometimes there are dolls that attain ‘so bad its good’ status. Like a no-brand doll I bought last summer whose packaging claimed was the girl fun time doll, all you need for fun times etc, and had only accessories for cleaning and putting on makeup. It was so hilarious, I just had to. Does anyone think Im being too harsh? I really think Mattel is capable of so much more than this, and they need to keep up with the times. Dolls like Lottie, Blondie Lox, even Barbie is trying to push a better message sometimes (yeah, I know Barbie is also Mattel. That makes it even dumber in my opinion).

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