I love Dora. She's adventurous and competent, she asks for help when she needs it, she includes her friends (and her viewers) in her adventures, and she is the protagonist. She's not rescued by some guy.
I've only seen the first two seasons--and some of those episodes I've seen so many times that I have them memorized--so I guess I'm only speaking about those. She might become some totally girly, squeaky, "Oh please save me!", stereotypical female character later on. I hope not, but it wouldn't surprise me.
But let me get one step closer to my point here: one of the minor things I like about Dora is that she's dressed in a fairly unisex manner. She wears a t-shirt, shorts, tennis shoes, and a backpack. Right on, Dora. (In the image above she's not wearing her standard outfit, but still nicely unisex.)
In many of the products that are made with her image these days, though, she's dressed in frilly dresses and things. I'm going to injure myself from all the eye-rolling I feel compelled to do. Really, marketers--do you think Dora would wear some fluffy, ribboned, impractical outfit to go find the Big Red Chicken, or to climb a ladder and help repair a hot air balloon, or to ferry a boat across Crocodile Lake? Maybelle has some excellent new Dora pajamas that she loves, and she'll be wearing them all summer, but Dora's wearing a dress. Sigh.
Okay, but this is leading me to my actual point: ruminating about Dora's clothing has led me to remember my own childhood, when I was probably about Maybelle's age. In the summer, I remember identifying dresses as the best form of clothing: they hardly touch your body at all, and you only had to wear two items of clothing--the dress, and a pair of underwear. With unisex clothing, you had to wear three: a shirt and a pair of underwear and shorts. Plus, the waistline of the shorts is touching you all the time.
It's interesting how far away that experience is. I almost never wear only two items of clothing anymore. Four is the minimum.
So maybe a dress on Dora would be okay if it were fairly functional (i.e. not frilly) and if she offered a brief lesson about how nice it is not to have things touching your skin.