blahblahblah · feminist · In the family way

“Lego for girls”? Hm.

This was a Lego ad in 1981. (Hat tip to bluemilk.)

This is Lego’s new attempt to reach out to girls.

Girly colours. “Ladyfigs”. And a distressingly stereotyped choice of characters/settings (go ahead and click on that link above for more pics), although it does include a token geeky workshop:

(Well, at least they tried.)

I have to admit that first of all, I’m old-school: I like the messy, improvisational, creative style of Lego play as shown in the 1981 ad much more than the prescriptive, limited, merchandising-driven style that dictates you have to buy a special set for everything you want to create. And second, I do like pretty colours. Not pink, so much – but purple and turquoise, oh yes. So I could absolutely be tempted to get some sets of “girly” bricks (although it would make me a little queasy)… but the whole idea of “Lego for girls”?

Has the world gone mad?

Back in 1981, it was perfectly obvious that “Lego for girls” was just… Lego.

…You know, I honestly thought I had something to say about this. Turns out I don’t. It’s so self-evidently ridiculous and offensive and wrong that I can’t get any further than just pointing to the pictures: look. Look what’s happening here. Weren’t we supposed to be moving forward?

[marches offstage spitting and waving arms and maybe sobbing slightly]

9 thoughts on ““Lego for girls”? Hm.

  1. Oh blimey, I’m so with you. The whole joy of lego (and meccano, too) was bodging your way to making some sort of lump that you could feel was – well, anything. Mountain? Tree? House?

    Listened to a R4 programme in the last – oh, 18 months or so. Toy-makers found this ‘new’ market of Girls (TM) with pink etc etc, but have now done themselves out of it. The Girls (TM) things are so limited and defined by colour, so prescribed, that girls grow out of toys now by the age of about 8 or 9, and move into non-toys.

  2. Goodness, yeah it’s awful this whole Boy/Girl thing…ELC is terrible for it as well, with their range of things that are exactly the same, but in blue for boys and in pink for girls…why, exactly?

  3. I haven’t seen those ones anywhere, so I’m assuming it’s a rather new thing although it reminds me very much of Polly Pocket and Animal Hospital and if you don’t know what it is, you don’t want to know.
    Looking at those Lego sets it seems that they got it completely wrong and not just because of the gender biased settings. It’s a shame that they don’t *look* like Lego! What’s happened to the square little figures and the cars that take a booklet and a good hour to complete? Surely they could’ve come up with something that is a little more interesting than a blackboard consisting of 10 pieces. Sigh.

  4. If you’re concerned about Lego kits not encouraging creativity, you should look at the kits for “boys” as well as the gender-neutral Creator sets, as well. They all show how to build one particular thing – and then usually include ideas for how to build several other things out of the same pieces. Maybe this is a problem, but it’s nothing to do with girls in particular.

    It’s actually a solution to a marketing problem: how do you get kids to want more building toys when the ones they already have can build pretty much anything? You create new colors and shapes so they can build even more things. Then you package the bits into new “kits” so they have to buy these to get the new shapes and colors.

    Lego marketed towards girls is important. On average, girls take longer to develop spatial and mathematical skills than boys, just as boys, on average, take longer to develop language and social skills. Too often, we don’t encourage kids to develop in the areas where they take longer to develop, and we assume that learning something a little more slowly means not being as good at it. This is what is really offensive – and when people insist that Lego for girls can’t be good because it’s pink, or because the kits are of houses, cars, and robots instead of spaceships, cars and robots, then they are doing girls everywhere a disservice.

  5. Oh dear. We love girly lego. It’s so pretty! Sorry, sis. And yes, it is reminiscent of Polly Pocket, especially the new new Friends range (that yes, even has an “Emma”). We love this even more. As I said, oh dear. Forgive us.

  6. Actually, we also enjoy playing with it. We have stacks and stacks of the 70s, 80s stuff that my mom bought (and no, we’re not sharing with my siblings – that was the whole point of storing it for all those years after my mom wanted to get rid of it!) and we’re now combining it with the Friends sets that we’ve got. What Anna and I love: very cute animals, different kinds of flowers and TREES. There was no brown Lego when I was growing up and no green either (except in building plates, prefab trees and plants). Now you can build an entire tree from different bendy shapes, brown cylinders, etc, etc. And there is no prescribed shape! (Yes, the Friends Treehouse was the first thing we bought Anna.) We’ve also figured out a way of making flowering plants grow up against houses. I love Lego. What I really hate, though, is the faces of the women in the miniseries figures – they have eyebrows and painted lips and they look SCARY.

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