“Dora the Explorer” explores her girly side

Certain things in this world are timeless and never-changing: the evergreen, the diamond, and, of course, the cartoon character. The cartoon character never ages. We don’t follow Rainbow Bright to prom or head to the retirement home with Fred and Wilma. Cartoons don’t grow up with us; they exist as they are for new generations of youngsters eventually to grow up and grow out of them. Well, Nickelodeon would like to change all that. Realizing that they have found huge success with their animated series Dora The Explorer they are refusing to let Dora’s fans grow out of her. Instead, they are opting to revamp her image so that a new version of Dora can appeal to an older group of girls.

Nickelodeon is redesigning an older version of Dora to make her appear “more feminine” in an attempt to hang on to Dora’s fans as they grow out of their diapers. The cable network’s reps did not specify what “feminizing” Dora will entail, but you can certainly surmise that her pink cotton T-shirt and ruffle socks will no longer pass muster. Nickelodeon is faced with the competition from such teen juggernauts as Hannah Montana and High School Musical and have reported in a press release that they are “eager to find ways to retain Dora’s preschool fans as they mature.” It looks as though that will mean that Dora will be trading in her map for mascara.

The new Dora, I imagine, will be a few inches taller than her younger counterpart and will perhaps lose her short locks. (After all, Dora, if you are going to be running around getting all sweaty from exploring, you are going to need a high ponytail that says, “I’m sporty, but still girly.”) Maybe she will trade in her shorts for some fancy hip-hugging capris or perhaps a cargo-style mini-skirt (’cause skirts are the go-to apparel when traipsing through the jungle). I would gather that the rest of Dora’s “improvements” might entail changes such as these:

Dora has been a hugely successful character for two pioneering reasons: 1. She is bilingual; she opens young minds up to different cultures and people. 2. She is a female character who appeals to both girls and boys because she isn’t dowsed in flowers and pink bows. My five-year-old nephews, who are as rough and tumble as it gets, love their “Dora the Explora.” She coexists for them right alongside The Transformers and Batman as if she were any other action hero. Her character is so universally likeable because she is just an average kid who likes to explore. If the only way for Nickelodeon to market their already beloved character to older girls is to glam her up, then I think that sends a message that, sure, girls can do anything, but they better look pretty while doing it.

At the end of the day, we don’t really know yet what making Dora “more feminine” will entail. Maybe they mean she will have more episodes exploring while having her “monthly friend” accompany her or that she will speak more to the importance of a good athletic bra while climbing a mountain. The only thing we can say for certain is that the Dora of today isn’t girly enough to be perceived as profitable to pre-teen audiences and there will be some changes. I am open to perhaps a tiny bit of change, but if she comes off the drawing board looking anything like the Bratz, then the people at Nickelodeon can expect a strongly worded letter from my nephews and me.

Really, the world needs Dora just the way she is. Someone who represents the girls that would rather toss their dolls to the wayside and instead go out and climb a tree. Little girls that were like me and maybe like many of you.

What do you think about Dora getting a makeover? Do you think it is sending a bad message to young girls or is giving her a new look not a big deal?