Lego Magazine Thinks 5-Year-Old Girls Need Beauty Tips
When kids play with creative toys like Lego bricks, they should be thinking about how to build things creatively or imagining amazing stories to tell about the lives of those little brick dudes and dudettes. What they don’t need to be thinking about is whether their haircut suitably frames the shape of their face, or if they need a headband or barrette to really complete their appearance. And yet, it’s these latter concerns that appeared in the pages of a Lego marketing magazine featuring the company’s girl-targeted Lego Friends line:
— Lyndsay Kirkham (@HisFeministMama) March 16, 2015
More details about the magazine’s contents from Today:
Page 5 of the March-April edition of a special edition of Lego Club Magazine offers “Emma’s Beauty Tips,” which presents several female figures in “Heartlake Hair Salon,” and encourages readers to “match your haircut to the shape of your face” and “experiment with bows, barrettes and headbands!” It also offers tips on blow-drying and hair-brushing technique.
Oof. There’s nothing wrong with letting kids play with makeup or hairstyling toys–but there is something wrong when every toy and activity for girls has to touch on their appearance. The Lego Friends line is already on my Is This Strictly Necessary, I Mean Really list for the way it revolves around salons, baking, and ponies, but there are kids who enjoy those things (although I do wish it was marketed to both girls and boys, because liking cupcakes and horses is not a girl-specific trait). Meanwhile, the Lego lines whose marketing is aimed at boys have them playing as spies, ninjas, pirates, and superheroes, and if there has been a magazine storyline where Batman or Captain America worry about how this super-suit makes their butt look or which hairstyle their civilian alter egos should get, I haven’t seen it yet.
Lego Club magazine, where this page appeared, is intended for kids as young as four or five years of age. Preschoolers and kindergarteners do not need to be worrying about whether they are pretty enough or properly accessorized–they should be worrying about how to build a castle big enough for all their Lego people to live in, or about whether a Lego alligator is an acceptable pet to assign to a Lego person once you run out of Lego horses. (Answer: yes, always.)
The Lego kits I had as a kid were sorely lacking in the ‘girl’ department. Of all the Robin Hood and knights sets I collected, there was one single Maid Marian figurine (compared to maybe 20 soldiers and merry men), and there was one lonely figure in my pile of sci-fi kits that was androgynous enough to pass for female. A sweep through the company’s website today suggests a similar issue in its existing sets: one token female character in sets of four, five, six guys. If Lego wants more girls to buy their products, they don’t need a segregated pink-and-purple line. A better solution? Just throw in a few clearly female face and hair bricks along with the existing sets. Ta-da! Lady pirates, lady ninjas, lady astronauts, lady Captain America (oh my) … problem solved, and we can keep beauty concerns where they belong: in the beauty toy aisle.
Postscript: Please save the “don’t like it? don’t buy it!” argument. I don’t like it, I will not be buying it, and I still want more options for my kids than what currently exists.