Your Favorite Childhood Cartoons Grew Up and Got Radical

Daria, Lisa Simpson, and Dora the Explorer went and became activists just like you.

By Jamilah King Sep 25, 2013

There’s a group of queer artists of color who didn’t take too kindly to a recent story that depicted ’90s cartoon characters as sleek Fashion Week attendees. As writer Mia McKenzie wrote at her blog, "Lisa Simpson, proud feminist with so much to say about gender roles, body shaming and capitalism, drawn in this hyper-thin, rich girl way? Why, baby Jesus? Why?"

So McKenzie teamed up with artist Julio Salgado and fellow writer Tina Vasquez to re-create their favorite ’90s cartoon characters as grown-up, radicalized activists. The lineup includes Lisa Simpson ("The Simpsons"), Daria ("Daria"), Jasmine Du Bois ("The Bookdocks"), and Dora the Explorer, just to name a few.

Lisa Simpson and Daria

Bio by Tina Vasquez

Lisa Simpson and Daria Morgendorffer met by way of an alumni group through their mutual alma mater: Smith College. Once, after the Feminism & Media conference, they had one too many cocktails and ended up kissing in a Marriott Hotel hallway, but no weirdness ensued. Their shared love of dismantling patriarchy, smashing mainstream beauty standards, and using their middleclass, cisgender, heterosexual, white girl privilege to fuck shit up from inside was strong enough to push past the awkward aftermath. Morgendorffer works as a writing instructor with San Francisco’s 826 Valencia and Simpson is a women’s studies professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In their free time, they collaborate on their zine Cat Fancy. Both women are still processing what they learned from #solidarityisforwhitewomen.


Jasmine DuBois from "The Boondocks"

Bio by Mia McKenzie

Jazmine left Woodcrest, Illinois to go to college at age seventeen. Much to her father’s chagrin, she chose a historically black institution, in hopes of undoing some of the anti-black brainwashing she was victim to in her parents’ house. At college, she majored in music and embraced black militancy, which made her friend Huey Freeman very proud. Jazmine didn’t care, though, because she also found black womanism and stopped giving a shit what Huey thinks of her. She is not here for his or any man’s approval. She dropped out junior year to go on tour with her hip-hop-funk band, "Smashing Misogynoir," and never looked back. She’s a social justice activist, a professional kickboxer, and a mom.


Dora the Explorer 

Bio by Tina Vasquez

Growing up, Dora became accustomed to her abuelitas and tias, even her own mom, pinching her chubby cheeks, patting her round little belly, simultaneously adoring her "baby fat" while also lamenting its existence. Dora had body issues for the bulk of her childhood, but in high school something snapped and she said Fuck. This. Shit. It was around this time that Dora began exploring other women’s bodies. Hearing her partner whisper, "You’re so fucking sexy" as they messed around in the girl’s locker room did wonders for her self-esteem. When her cousin Diego came out as undocumented after high school, organizing around the Dream Act, Dora was inspired by his movement work and began her journey as a queer, fat, femme activist. Using only her blog and camera, Dora fights fat phobia by showcasing the beauty of her cis and trans sisters – curves, dimples, stretch marks, and all. Dora also does queer porn, appearing in the latest installment of Courtney Trouble’s Lesbian Curves with April Flores. It was awesome.

The list includes many more of your favorite cartoon characters, and you can see it in full over at Black Girl Dangerous

* This post has been updated since publication.