Girliness Upgrade

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Left: Dora the Explorer. Right: Dora the Valley Girl.


Our heroine is a Tomboy—rough and tumble, as interested in fashion as she is interested in watching paint dry. However, in the reboot or in the doll, she becomes a girly girl. Often complete with princess dress or at least a Pimped-Out Dress, tween fashion and long hair, often with hair decorations.

Notice that the girl is often aged up—from little girl to tween. (Ironically, tweens are often less feminine than little girls—tweens are at the stage of life where the dresses and cuteness is ditched for a more mature style.)

Compare/contrast Fan Service Pack. See also Chickification. Also unlike Chickification, this trope doesn't necessarily mean she becomes weaker. The trick is that the girl becomes more dainty-looking, but keeps at least a good part of her core personality underneath the skirts and make-up. If becoming girlier is portrayed as better or worse than being more tomboyish, then you've got some Unfortunate Implications on your hand.

Examples of Girliness Upgrade include:

Anime and Manga

  • Sora from Digimon Adventure went from dressing as a tomboy and into things like soccer, to Digimon Adventure 02, where she started dressing girlier, switching hobbies to the more traditionally "feminine" sport of tennis, and in the end grew up to be a fashion designer ( not a popular career choice in the fandom's opinion of Sora.)
  • An interesting variation occurs in the manga Ice Revolution when karate champion Masaki arranges her own Girliness Upgrade by switching to figure skating, which she views as a prettier, more feminine form of athleticism. She manages to secure her macho father's support only by proving that a "girly" activity like figure skating is a physical sport every bit as demanding as karate.
  • Happens to Itsuki in Heartcatch Pretty Cure as part of her Character Development. She starts out hiding her love of stuffed animals and desire to doll up in cute clothing behind a masculine exterior, out of a desire to be a respected martial artist like her twin brother. After joining the Fashion Club (and later, becoming a Cure herself), she learns that it's alright for her to enjoy both martial arts and cute things, and eventually grows her hair out a bit and starts wearing the female uniform during the finale.
  • When she was younger, Hungary was a Cute Bruiser Bokukko who thought she was a boy. As she grew up, she graduated to a Team Mom who wears frilly dresses and flower Hair Decorations. No matter what the fandom says about Chickification, she actually Took a Level in Badass while becoming more feminine and maternal.

Comics

Film

  • Mulan: The title character has a whole song about how uncomfortable she is in girly attire and trying to be the traditional, submissive woman her parents want her to be. The whole message of the film is about how much more she can accomplish as her tomboyish, Action Girl self than trying to be something she's not (whether that be a traditional girl or disguised as a man.) But good luck finding any evidence of that in her merchandise: Ever since she was added to the Disney Princess line, it's all pink, sparkles, and girly accessories like mirrors and combs. Just look at her in the Disney Princess page image and compare with this.
  • In Toy Story 2, Jessie's owner Emily had one of these, but with undesirable results in regards to Jessie.
  • Brave: Pretty much every doll of Mérida, a Fiery Redhead and Badass Princess with Quirky Curls and Wild Hair, looks far more well-groomed and ladylike than she really is. The Disney store model is closer to the original, but the Mattel collection barely resembles her. Also, her formerly simple dresses are now Gem-Encrusted, and her Cool Horse, Angus, a massive Clydesdale in the movie, is shrunk down to pony size.

Live Action TV

  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Actually reversed with Counselor Troi in the sixth season, when hardass substitute captain Jellico orders her out of her informal and rather revealing jumpsuits and into a standard Starfleet uniform.
  • iCarly devoted an episode to this, with Carly trying to help Sam become more girly. She was back to normal by the end of the episode, because Status Quo Is God.
    • Also inverted it in an episode where Carly tries to stay with Spencer. Carly turns herself into a punk chick with full black clothing, metal spikes and chains, and a streak of blue hair.
  • Hannah Montana generally did this to Lily as the show wore on. When she first showed up, she was a skateboard riding tomboy, by the end she's as girly as Hannah.
  • Claudia Brown on Primeval mostly dressed in business suits and casual clothes. Her replacement (long story) Jenny Lewis arrived always wearing full makeup, the latest fashions and high heels. Subverted in season 3 when Jenny starts wearing more practical clothing. Subverted again when we see her in season 4 and she's back to wearing dresses all the time.
  • Skins seems to be headed down this road with Franky Fitzgerald, despite the fact that much of her previous acclaim was due to her uniqueness as an androgynous female character who still attracted male attention. It's not helped by the fact that the show's explanation is full of Unfortunate Implications about her "growing confidence" automatically leading to girlier clothes, and it's come with personality changes, too (becoming much more self-centered and flirtatious than she was in her previous series).
  • Played with in an episode of Laverne and Shirley where Laverne tries to attract a guy by dressing and behaving in a more feminine manner. It doesn't change who she is inside, and she ultimately decides she would rather be herself.

Professional Wrestling

  • Chyna already had gone through plenty of Fail Polish by the end of the year 2000. Then all of a sudden when she entered the women's division her ring gear became more feminine and she lost weight as well as wearing dresses and high heels backstage.
  • Natalya Neidheart suddenly got very pretty at the end of 2010 where she was seen dolled up to the nines any time she wasn't wrestling. Her partner Beth Phoenix got in on this around mid-2011.

Toys

  • Kit of the American Girl doll line is mentioned to despise pink and, in the books is the Tomboy to her best friend Ruthie's Girly Girl. For the most part, her line has kept this, but when The Film of the Book came out, her blue school outfit and pajamas were both slowly phased out for girlier, pinker outfits that would be much more in-character for Ruthie to own... despite Ruthie herself getting her own doll and line of clothes.
  • Troll Dolls- cute gender neutral toys have now become fashion loving tweens called Trollz.

Video Games

  • Kairi from Kingdom Hearts is rather tomboyish in the original game, but becomes more feminine (with longer hair, a pink outfit, and whatnot) when a year passes in Kingdom Hearts II.

Western Animation

  • Rainbow Brite: Rainbow Brite's 2009 doll redesign includes thinner waists, longer hair,and more sparkle.
  • Dora the Explorer: Princess Dora doll, and new Dora dolls that feature an older Dora with longer hair, a headband, a dress, and tights. Although it's not unreasonable, given that she's now "Tween Dora" and has aged a few years.
  • Strawberry Shortcake: Updated from a round cupcake to a cute tomboy to a long haired strawberry blond tween.
  • This happens a lot with the toys based on My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic. Tomboys Applejack and Rainbow Dash sport Tareme Eyes and come with pink frilly hair accessories. Applejack's hat is notably absent from almost all toys. Pinkie Pie's tangled mess of a mane is perfectly groomed, and Princess Celestia is now Pink even though the BOX ART depicts her as white.
  • There was an attempt to do this with The Powerpuff Girls a while back. They did the standard Girliness Upgrade: Make the girls taller and skinner, had them wear makeup, gave them "girlier" hair. These versions were placed on things like makeup bags, and they had more emphasis on "girly" activities like shopping and makeup. It didn't seem to stick although it's hard to find anything on the internet regarding that. For reference, here's the redesign.
  • Gwen from Ben 10 was this after the time skip. Her original series incarnation was a sharp-tongued 10 years old smart girl with slightly tomboyish characteristics (mainly martial art skills, short hair, and temper). Her Alien Force incarnation, while retaining the intellectual personnality and remaining a competent Action Girl, has an obvious more feminine appearance, is less of a Deadpan Snarker and more calm and responsible, and has a All Girls Want Bad Boys relationship with Kevin.

Real Life

  • Joan of Arc's image in media is often given this, portraying her as a Lady of War and often as Badass Long Hair. In reality, Joan was a downright Sweet Polly Oliver who wore men's clothes for several reasons: not being seen as inferior by the troops, not having privilege over them, avoid possible rape attempts, etc.