Dora the Explorer, the beloved star of Nickelodeon’s hit cartoon, turns ten this Sunday. And while her preschool-age fans might not know it, this backpack-toting, adventure-loving girl is truly one of a kind.
While lots of kid’s television shows try to include some educational content in their programs, Dora the Explorer stands out not just for what she teaches but for what she is. She’s a girl who doesn’t wear frilly dresses, dream of being a princess or wait idly by for her knight in shining armor to rescue her. In fact, she rescues him.
Sharon Lamb, psychologist and co-author of “Packaging Girlhood,” says Dora the Explorer represents a rare, positive female role model for young girls who watch television.
“Dora is an action figure. Her famous phrase is ‘Let’s go!’ She has a backpack and cool equipment. In other media, boys always have the cool equipment.”
Valerie Walsh Valdes, one of Dora’s creators, says Dora’s can-do attitude is no accident. She says the writers deliberately set out to create a show that would shake up the traditional fairy tale roles. And by creating a strong female character who isn’t afraid to take charge, Valdes and her team have spawned a new generation of fearless females for young girls to look up to. While princesses and girly-girls may still dominate the television landscape, Dora, along with Sesame Street’s Abby Cadabby to Nickelodeon’s Kai-lan Chow offer young girls a different kind of hero.
But what about Dora’s recent makeover from a cute little kid to a makeup-wearing tween? Well, she did get a new ‘do and some spiffy new clothes, but fortunately that more mature version is only available in doll form. On television, the Dora we’ve come to love remains just as she’s always been.
Want to help Dora celebreate her big birthday? Start by whipping up something tasty from the new “Dora and Diego Let’s Cook” recipe collection and then tune in Sunday night for Nickelodeon’s TV movie, “Dora’s Big Birthday Adventure.”
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