By Chelsea Whitlow Shay
In the 1980s, the second wave of feminisms was winding down and, while many gains for women had been made, young girls still had to adhere to a strict gender stereotype. Most young girls were given Cabbage Patch Kids, Strawberry Short Cake and Rainbow Bright to play with; all replicating the care-taking role for girls. However one toy company – Lego- dared to break these unspoken social rules of what girls should and should not play with.
In 1981 Lego published an advertisement featuring a little girl, shockingly not dressed in pink, holding a Lego creation of her own design. The caption on this advertisement read: “ What it is, is beautiful.” Then in small print Lego tells parents that it’s important for children to create things that they can be proud of and details the various products for sale.
This advertisement was a rarity then and, sadly still is today. Unfortunately, Lego and its creative executives have taken a huge slide backwards in the gender inclusivity of their products. Instead of continuing with their gender inclusive campaign for their gender neutral toys Lego has decided that creating a hyper-gendered Lego line would be better, sending their product and our children’s imaginations back to the 1950s.
If you flip through a Lego magazine today or click through the Lego website you will find their new hyper-gendered collection of Legos call “Friends.” This new line is geared solely to young girls with the iconic Lego mini figure morphing into a Barbie like figure. Now instead of offering girls the plethora of Lego creations on the market girls can now choose from the “Friends” collection. Here they will be able to build simplified versions of: beauty shops, a veterinary office, a garden pool or wait for it…. a model catwalk.
My question is who thought this was a good idea? Does Lego really think girls need a simplified more stereotypical “feminine” version of Legos? I will admit that generally Lego kits lack a balance of male and female presenting mini figures. But, why not just create more variety within their mini figure collections that are included in building kits. Why, why create an insultingly sexist simplified line for girls?!
Lego used to boast a slogan of “Builder of tomorrow,” but now it seem more apt to change that slogan to “Building sexist stereotypes one brick at a time.”