Dora the Explorer, an American animated TV series which centers around a Latina girl named Dora who solves puzzles and goes on adventures (hence the name), is now being given a makeover. The original Dora (pictured below) has short hair; wears a backpack, shorts, and tennis shoes; and sports a little belly, which pokes out from underneath a plain T-shirt.
The new, “tween” Dora (see below) is now long and slim; has lost her backpack; has long hair; and wears jewelery, purple leggings, a floral hot-pink dress, and feminine ballet flats. This comes as no surprise, considering the amount of “girlification” and “sexification” that has been exploding in the girl’s toy industry since the late 1980’s.
In “What’s Wrong With Cinderella?”, Peggy Orenstein points out how girl’s play often presents us with conflicting stereotypes. On the one hand, girls’ toys seem to idealize a kind of purity or innocence that girls/women are meant to embody. On the other hand, many girls toys are becoming more sexified, suggesting that the primary concern of girlhood is sex appeal. “The natural progression from pale, innocent pink,” says Sharon Lamb (whom Orenstein quotes in her article), “is not to other colors. It’s to hot, sexy pink–exactly the kind of sexualization parents are trying to avoid” (“What’s Wrong With Cinderella?” 2006). Dora the Explorer is just one example of how girl’s play hyper-feminizes and even sexualizes young girls. To read more, visit Sociological Images at: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2009/03/19/dora-the-explorers-makeover-gwen-and-i-saw-it-comin/
STUDENTS: Find and publish an artifact (it could be a toy, children’s program, film, advertisement, toy store, or anything that you think is related to children, consumption, and play–think outside the box!). Provide a brief analysis which makes some sort of mini-argument about your topic (it could relate to femininity, mascuilnity, consumption, or some other related issue).