Childrearing

LEGO Admits That Those Stupid ‘Girls’ LEGOs Are Problematic

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LEGOS for girlsIt’s been a pretty long back and forth for parents concerned about what those silly “Friends” LEGOs convey to their daughters. While “boys” LEGOs have traditionally explored a variety themes and tasks, including architecture, dinosaurs, pirates, Lord of the Rings, and even Harry Potter — the new “LEGOs for girls” has an array of problematic focuses. The “Friends” line saw significant backlash from parents for promoting such valuable past-times as tanning, hitting up hair salons, and hot tubs all with redesigned figurines with breasts. Nevertheless, the play sets are selling.

However, the girls’ advocacy group SPARK recently met with LEGO executives to discuss their concerns with the line. And according to the organization, LEGO was able to sympathize and recognize the harmful messages that these toys can ultimately send girls.

Bailey Richards writes on the meeting, describing the LEGO team sit-down as “pleasant, productive and inspiring.” SPARK asked that LEGO include more girls and women across all LEGO lines (the lines are at present 86.6% male), include more children of both genders in all LEGO lines as well as the “Friends” line, and include more non-stereotypical activities for girls as “Friends” expands. Basically, this means architecture, firefighting, space exploration, etc.

But more surprisingly, at the end of the 90-minute meeting, executives apparently were able to understand why many parents reacted so negatively:

One of the most encouraging parts of the meeting with LEGO was that the individuals sitting around the table shared many of our concerns, and were able to see why SPARK sees the Friends as a problematic addition to the LEGO suite of products.

Throughout the entire “Girls” LEGO backlash, the company has responded, usually with the affirmation that they were receptive to criticism. And aside from taking this meeting with SPARK, the company also plans to increase the number of female figurines across all lines by the end of 2012.

If all this simply was a matter of LEGO not understanding why depicting women characters with purses, lipsticks, and vanities while the males are out building battleships is an issue, then perhaps the meeting truly was a successful one.

(photo: askmissa.com)

10 Comments

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  3. Diane

    April 28, 2012 at 2:06 am

    Lego has been ripping off Playmobil for so long now, I wonder why they didn’t recognize that Playmobil has been very good about non gender specific toys and role modeling? I can’t stand Lego. Their toys are flimsy and their ideas weak. The only thing good about Lego is the original idea. Building blocks for kids so they can use their imagination. The rest of the concept is a blatant ripoff or disaster.

  4. katia

    April 28, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    they never said that the other lego cannot be played with by girls, or that boys could not play with the ‘friends’ line.
    there is a huge market for pink and purple plastic girly play things and why wouldnt lego want a piece of the pie? just because they are european they can’t have a piece of the tacky north american consumer pie?
    but adding boys to the ‘friends’ and girls to the ‘regualar’ lego is win win.
    all the controversy was probably good for business too~!

  5. Patrice

    April 29, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    No one I know is talking about this. If you don’t want your child to play with a “girl’ or “boy” toy, don’t buy it. Model the attitudes you want your children to learn. I don’t get this trend of seeking out things to be offended by. I am glad my children are older so that I don’t have to agonize over such nonsense!!!!!

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  9. Masoud

    August 22, 2012 at 12:41 am

    Does Lego have a girl problem? Yes it does. But at least they are “trying” to address it. The reality is we live in a world where girls are attracted to different toys than boys. I have for years tried to get my daughter (who does not play with dolls or read princess books) to play with Legos with little success. My son, on the other hand, is an avid player. Lego Friends are changing that. And if Lego Friends get some girls hooked on Legos and some of those girls graduate to Lego Technic someday, so much the better.
    Should we expect Lego to do better in its marketing and product design? Yes. But let’s remember they have enough trouble as it is implementing their ping-gets-girls-to-play-Lego (for details see http://unfolding-mirror.blogspot.com/2012/08/does-lego-still-have-girl-problem.html), let alone improve that strategy to a level that addresses their commercial needs as well as our social needs.
    Just as we expect Lego to be more creative and be a better social corporate citizen, perhaps we can also think more creatively on “how” they can do that while remaining profitable. Only when we start sharing that burden, will we realize what a tough task that is.

    • KazaD

      October 5, 2012 at 12:54 am

      When my daughter was shown the regular LEGO and then the ‘girl’ LEGO at a young age, she immediately gravitated towards the regular LEGO as those ideas resonated with her. There were cars, wizards, dragons etc. It’s not that she was a tomboy, because she wasn’t and isn’t, it’s just that the ‘girl’ LEGO was very static, compared to what the regular LEGO could do.

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