The Little Girl from the 1981 LEGO Ad is All Grown Up, and She’s Got Something to Say

February 11, 2014 by
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**A Women You Should Know Exclusive**

By Lori Day – In mid-January, this article on The Huffington Post hit my Facebook newsfeed like a Justin Bieber deportation petition—it was everywhere. In it, HuffPost Family News Editor Jessica Samakow writes:

Pay attention, 2014 Mad Men: This little girl is holding a LEGO set. The LEGOs are not pink or “made for girls.” She isn’t even wearing pink. The copy is about “younger children” who “build for fun.” Not just “girls” who build. ALL KIDS. In an age when little girls and boys are treated as though they are two entirely different species by toy marketers, this 1981 ad for LEGO — one of our favorite images ever — issues an important reminder.

1981 lego ad

Something about this piece with the iconic 1981 ad tapped the zeitgeist and it became one of HuffPo’s more viral articles in recent memory, receiving over 60,000 shares. And along the way, the small world of Facebook led to a comment thread on my wall where someone, upon seeing the little red-haired girl holding her LEGOs, wrote, “Hey, I know her!” And now I do too, because that’s the serendipity of social media. Her name is Rachel Giordano, she is 37 years old, and she’s a practicing naturopathic doctor in Seattle, Washington. Giordano agreed to talk to me about her childhood and the ad, and to pose for a new Then & Now photo meme, which you see above in the lead image.

As I was planning my interview with Rachel Giordano, I saw this blog post by Achilles Effect, and knew immediately what Giordano should be holding in the new version of the photo. Enter the Heartlake City rolling beauty salon TV news van, one of the latest additions to the LEGO Friends line. Advertising copy lets us know what being a news anchor involves for minifig Emma:

“Break the big story of the world’s best cake with the Heartlake News Van! Find the cake and film it with the camera and then climb into the editing suite and get it ready for broadcast. Get Emma ready at the makeup table so she looks her best for the camera. Sit her at the news desk as Andrew films her talking about the cake story and then present the weather to the viewers.”

Cake? Seriously? And what-the-what is that when you look inside the news van? Where is the equipment? Is it behind the gigantic makeup vanity?

As Achilles Effect blogger Crystal Smith notes, “This toy had so much potential to inspire young girls who think journalism would be a cool career. Instead, they get the same message delivered just about everywhere else in the culture that surrounds them: look pretty and smile for the camera.”

Children haven’t changed, but adults who market to them have… What do we have to lose, besides stereotypes? So what did Rachel Giordano have to say about the LEGO news van when it pulled up to her medical office in Seattle via Amazon and UPS? First things first: she told me what it was like to be a child model for the Ford Agency in New York City, posing for print ads and performing in commercials. On the day she went into the studio to make the 1981 LEGO ad, she was given a set of original LEGOs and an hour to play with them and make her own creation—it is what you see in the ad. (And those were her own clothes—the comfy jeans and blue striped t-shirt and sneakers without a hint of pink that she wore in off the street.)

The news van kit struck her as really quite different. She does not have children, so the change in LEGOs represented by the Friends line was startling: “In 1981,” explains Giordano, “LEGOs were ‘Universal Building Sets’ and that’s exactly what they were…for boys and girls. Toys are supposed to foster creativity. But nowadays, it seems that a lot more toys already have messages built into them before a child even opens the pink or blue package. In 1981, LEGOs were simple and gender-neutral, and the creativity of the child produced the message. In 2014, it’s the reverse: the toy delivers a message to the child, and this message is weirdly about gender.”

The original 1981 ad has been making the rounds in my girl empowerment blogging circles for the past few years now, symbolic of the nostalgia that ain’t what it used to be when it comes to children’s toys. The stereotyping of girls in their world of play is an issue close to my heart and one that I address in my book Her Next Chapter, because, as Maria Montessori notably said, play is the work of the child. [Editor’s Note: What most recent articles about this inspiring ad have left out, is the equally inspiring woman who created it. According to a January 21, 2014 Mashable piece, “The ‘What is Beautiful’ ad was created by Judy Lotas, who was the creative director at SSC&B, a now-defunct ad agency… She had two young daughters at the time, and gender equality was a big topic.”]

Over at Princess Free Zone, Michele Yulo has been writing about the change in LEGOs since the new LEGO Friends line dropped anchor in girls’ toy aisles all around the world. “Last year,” says Yulo, “I did my own homemade version of the ad to show that it is not that kids have changed, forcing companies to adopt ‘separate but equal’ and ‘pink marketing’ strategies—in fact, it is the other way around. I didn’t change the tagline except to say that ‘What it is is still beautiful.’ Because it is.”

PFZ Meme

That’s Yulo’s daughter on the right side of the meme, holding her own unique LEGO structure built with regular—I mean boys’—LEGOs.

What’s the problem with girl LEGOs? Why is everyone against pink?, ask many parents. I’ll let Rachel Giordano answer that question: “Because gender segmenting toys interferes with a child’s own creative expression. I know that how I played as a girl shaped who I am today. It contributed to me becoming a physician and inspired me to want to help others achieve health and wellness. I co-own two medical centers in Seattle. Doctor kits used to be for all children, but now they are on the boys’ aisle. I simply believe that they should be marketed to all children again, and the same with LEGOs and other toys.”

I couldn’t help being curious about how Giordano’s renewed fame first came to her attention and how it was affecting her. “I did so many advertisements as a kid that this LEGO ad did not stand out in my memory,” says Giordano. “When it resurfaced on the Internet all these years later, I was totally surprised, and some of my friends asked, ‘Is that you?’ I’m super excited to tell my story!”

Giordano has grown up, but she’s still the same cheerful and creative person you see in the original ad. As Yulo’s meme suggests, children haven’t changed, but adults who market to them have. And LEGOs? They sure are different. How about this? Let’s give all children a world of play that includes all colors and all possibilities, and let’s market it that way. What do we have to lose, besides stereotypes? Gender-segmented toys may double corporate profits, but always seem to result in for-girls versions that are somehow just a little bit less. I say, let’s give girls more. Any reason not to??


About This Contributor

Lori Day headshotLori Day is an educational psychologist, consultant, and parenting coach with Lori Day Consulting in Newburyport, MA. Her new book Her Next Chapter: How Mother-Daughter Book Clubs Can Help Girls Navigate Malicious Media, Risky Relationships, Girl Gossip, and So Much More will be on shelves May 1, 2014.

Lori is also a co-founder and Board member of the Brave Girls Alliance, a global think tank and consulting group of girl empowerment experts who advocate for healthier media and products for girls.

 

Photo Credit: 2014 image of Rachel Giordano was shot by Anita Nowacka

  • JulesAboutTown

    Excellent work.

  • Melissa Atkins Wardy

    What a great post, Lori! (And to Cyrstal and Michele as well!)
    I’ve been blogging about the stereotypes for girls in Lego for a long time and share equal frustrations as have been expressed here. This past summer I addressed the issue on CCN (http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/03/living/lego-petition-female-minifigures/) and launched a petition that now has over 40,000 signatures (http://www.change.org/LegoWomen). At times it seems unbelievable that a company would fail to listen to its consumers who have repeatedly told them we don’t want to see their products go the way of the rolling “news” van…..That just rolls our daughters back into 1950′s era thinking.

    My daughter and son love Lego, but we stay away from their ridiculous marketing and gendered sets. I would love to see Lego return to its roots and be the company that we all grew up with, so beautifully illustrated in the two photos that accompany this story. Until then, we must continue to give voice to the problem. Brava!

    Melissa Atkins Wardy
    “Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, Birth to Tween”
    pigtailpalsblog.com

  • Dean K Miller

    Wonderful pieces of work here…both the story and Ms.Giordano. We must let the children play as they see fit. The future success of the world depends on the freedoms that all children should have, experiment and experience. And, we should listen to what they have to say along the say. Thanks for this.

  • Shane Baker

    I see the sexism thing and it’s totally true. But there’s another difference, too. The one on the left is a thing she made, whatever she wanted. It can be taken apart and built again and again in different ways. The one on the right has more in common with a snap-together model. It is finished. You put it together once, there is only one right way to do it. And there’s a subtle pressure not to combine it with other models to create your own thing, just to put it on a shelf and look at it, or play with it as a completed toy. It’s anti-creative.

    • Thom

      Please explain to me how the thousands of hours I spent as a kid coming up with stories to act out with my completed Lego sets was “anti-creative.”

      • Amy

        The one on the RIGHT (the makeup van)

        • TCinTheKnow

          You just demonstrated your lack of creativity. Luckily the vast majority of children aren’t suffering from your infliction.

      • Clarity

        I think that Shane meant that how they advertise and sell the product doesn’t inspire creativity. Instead, their product, as advertised, is anti-creative.

      • Shane Baker

        I suppose it was a bit hyperbolic to label them “anti-creative”. It is definitely less creative on the building end of it. The sets become action figures with some assembly required. We’ve all had lots of fun crating stories with action figures, dolls, cars, stuffed animals, and models, and there is of course lots of fun to be had there, but Lego’s e selling point for me is that it is not static, that it is endlessly changeable.

    • http://www.kimhoxworth.com/ FishInThePercolator

      I have noticed that in many of the Lego sets marketed to girls, they lean very heavily towards this “pre-manufactured” mold.

      • floridaatheist

        All LEGO comes in kits unless you go to the LEGO store and buy individual blocks. The kit is a starting point for most kids as CLTborn said above. I’ve bought LEGO Friends kits for my daughter and they stay together for a few days and then get rocket wings or underwater grappling hooks or whatever (and all of the Minifigs get imprisoned in Duplo for some reason). When was the last time you built with LEGO?

        • http://www.kimhoxworth.com/ FishInThePercolator

          I guess I didn’t clarify what I meant well enough.
          When I had purchased sets for my son from the “Friends” line, the chassis of a vehicle was pre-built, a stove was already a stove, etc., where in the sets that we’ve built from other lines, those elements are constructed individually from many more individual pieces that could also serve many other purposes in future projects. There were consequently fewer individual blocks for a kit of the same price range/age range/finished toy size. It’s been a few years since I’ve purchased one from the Friends line (because he grew bored quickly with the limited function of so many of the pieces), so maybe it’s changed since then.
          To answer your question and for what it’s worth, we built a 900+ castle this past weekend.

          • Nathanael

            I learned early that the the mark of a good lego set is a high piece count. Every time Lego goes for big chunky pieces… they’re being cheapos and not making real lego.

      • Antoinette Stokes

        None of the “girl” sets are pre manufactured. They come in kits with loose bricks and have instructions just like any other set.

        • Daryl Van Ry

          i can confirm this. my daughter has all kinds of lego sets, only one from the Friends series…the school. It builds like a classic City set or the like. Lots of loose parts, and also many architectural features too. She liked it and found it challenging compared to some others she’s done (she’s just 7).

    • Sheena Leversedge Wood

      this, to me, is something as sad as gendering lego.
      lego used to be about making ANYTHING. anything you wanted. anything you can imagine.
      I’ve seen children playing with lego now, and they are sat there with the instruction sheet, putting the right piece in the right place to make the thing the box tells you it makes.
      and that’s just not what lego is meant to be.

      • CLTborn

        My son was very, very invested in building Lego sets the way the instruction book said, and was very proud to have done so. Then he very proudly broke them apart when he was ready, and played with the pieces, combining and recombining them into new, souped-up versions of the thing he just made. Some kids like the structure, and feeling of accomplishment of the predesigned sets; some kids get more out of playing freely with random pieces; some kids enjoy both. Lego is “meant to be” whatever brings kids satisfaction and happiness.

        I do dislike the obviously gender-targeted sets; they’re harmful to boys AND girls, and absolutely send the message that each gender is, and should be, confined to certain roles.

        • norgeek

          My experience with lego was exactly like that of your son. First build it as the instructions said (great way to learn new ideas), then build something cool. Still have crateloads of lego from my 15-year collection spree from child to teenager.

          • nivmani

            It used to be fun to ‘dump’ the pieces from all the old sets acquired over the years in one big box that could be snapped shut. The old lego boxes just had wells to hold the pieces with a cardboard flap cover. The mixing of the sets definitely contributed to creative ideas. we were not restricted to the booklet instructions.

          • Silent Political Yeoman

            I remember as soon as we built the sets, we did whatever with the pieces. To this day we still have two opposing space fleets that the three of us built out of combining pieces from all the different sets.

          • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8FvmesaxXg Revan

            Sounds like what I did when I was little. Good times.

        • Maddie1701e

          That is what I did too. I remember building a space ship with my father, it took us many days, but was so much fun! And when it was done, I broke it down, and build houses, and cars, and towers and bridges with the pieces. I loved the creativity I got from playing.

        • ladybugmom

          no that is NOT the message.

        • Mike Pascuzzi

          you are insane, every “boy” gear toy has a female character doing the same damn job,and if they don’t just swap the damn lego heads…there are female ninjas,and cops,and everything else in lego city, maybe not astronauts, they just have to take off their hair.

          even the turtles and hero lines have stuff for girls.

          nothing is harmful…if im buiding a ninja turtle playset, does that mean im destined to believe my future should consist of fighting crime out of my sewer hideout?

          and most girls with the princess themed playsets, they usually know they arent going to be royalty…it’s the parents and teachers job to set them up with ideas and knowledge for the life they will eventually have, not lego’s.

          its not like lego is only making happy housewife playsets for girls…they should, but i doubt they do.

          • Matt Wood

            tl;dr version: parents – get the set(s) the young lady in your life wants
            everyone else: sh.

            and friendship. I love you.

            There is a female astronaut in the most recent shuttle set. And now the exo suit. I appreciate your venom as I felt it too when Charlotte turned the world against The LEGO Group as a huge sexist monster…why not Barbie or anything marketed ONLY at girls is beyond me…let’s attack the one company that finally dipped their toe (JUST THE TOE!!!) into the “pink* pool” (and increased the hell out of sales in doing so – *also includes academia, sports, martial arts, and a myriad of other extracurricular activities – I, a male in my mid/late 20s, own a number of these sets) to increase sales based on an existing market. Curse Charlotte’s parents for not teaching her about imagination or brick interchangeability or even buying the “they only make shopping sets for girls” sets.

            But that is just it: Toy companies continue to market “girly toys” to girls (even that I can use that short hand shouldn’t be so) and people are upset that LEGO is helping to continue this. I personally don’t think they should be..but I understand it. We all want to feel represented – in this case little girls with the figures they unwrap, but I really think this falls on the parents. Get the sets early, and replace every single male head until your fingers are bleeding and your daughter has no idea that men are even allowed to be police officers. Go nuts! I love it I’m all for it. Marketing techniques, like pushing pink, only work if people buy them…and 6 year old girls aren’t buying them. Their parents are. Charlotte’s dad posted that letter and I haven’t seen a single negative comment about him or how he apparently won’t buy her the sets she wants. I only see posts about how TLG, as a super massive toy company, is propagating that “girls are pink, boys are blue” (to use a short hand again).

            It’s all a bummer. I love diversity in my minifigures so I hope this all brings on change that allows for that, but this whole LEGO bashing is tired. And I’m being a jackass and contributing to it. friendship to all.

        • J Wilson

          the kits do cost so much though its difficult to want to just break them up

      • Shaun Phillips

        I guess I was not a normal kid. I liked the instructions. :) I hated mixing them up because it would be a hassle to find all the pieces for the model again. I DID mix up the lego technic (the big-kid building kits) as those felt more like engineering with gears, axles, etc. They also didn’t have as many of the small pieces that the regular sets had that were always the biggest pain.

        • http://pathfinder-devilin.blogspot.com/ Suneokun

          My son freestyles, my daughter collects the sets, keeps them in bags and brings them out when she wants the challenge of building them – she treats them like 3 dimensional puzzles. There is no ‘correct’ way. It’s all bricks.

        • J Wilson

          we are all different – thank goodness !

      • bellenberger

        Then start your own business. But don’t tell other kids how to play.

      • Owen Eastwood

        I disagree – I’m 17 and I played with LEGO till I was about 13, which ended with the first series of the LEGO ‘agents’ sets. I used to buy them, and my favourite bit was following instructions to build the model, and then I’d play with it. It was more about engineering than architecture for me. I think kids can learn a lot not JUST from being creative (there was a lot of that too especially from the big boxes) but also from looking at other’s designs.

        • TCinTheKnow

          I’ve been an Aerospace Engineer for 25 years, and I can tell tell the rest here that you are absolutely correct. Sir Isaac Newton called it “standing on the shoulders of giants”. Implementing others engineers design patterns is much like learning the brushes and pigments of master painters.

        • Chris H

          I’m 30 and still play with LEGO’s haha! I got the VW Van last year for Christmas, took around 12 hours to assemble!

          • Lyn

            My husband is in his 40s, our children are 21 (male, 12 (female) and 9 (male). All four receive sets that they build (separately and together), admire and then tear down and separated into their individual components for MOCs (My Own Creation). Out of those sets we now have about 50,000 pieces. Lego really is a toy that keep on giving. And yes, there’s a lot of pink in the collection because sometimes our daughter wants a Friends set.

          • Silent Political Yeoman

            Sir, that is a popular one I sell to the older crowd at my summer job (Retail at Legoland California Resort).

        • Surin Tamna

          Scientists want to have free-form lego creation to see what they can dream up, engineers want to have directions and see what they can do with them. Each kid (and profession!) is different :)

          • J Wilson

            architects or future home owners (or ones who never got their dream home and can now build one !!) build houses with lego ! but bring back the windows and tile bricks please….not just in one kit

        • ladybugmom

          Thank God! A voice of reason!

      • Hahboo

        So wait, you say it’s about making anything you wanted, yet condemn the kids that are doing it the way they want to? It’s not like you can’t use the pieces how you want until you build the box model first, so it seems the kids are just choosing to make it that way. The kits these days are just so cool that you want to put it together first, if not to just break it apart and at it to your bin.

        • threenorns

          the problem is that today’s children are far more heavily programmed to just follow the rules – conform – no, you can’t go outside and play, i’m too busy to supervise; here, watch Tv.

          i’ve gotten into arguments with my daughter’s father because he’s a staunch conformist and i’m extremely not. for example, he bought her a box of valentine’s day cards. she was tearing them apart gleefully and of course totally demo-ing the edges, which were coming out all rough and ragged.

          he LOST it. he told her she was ruining them, she wasn’t doing it right, if she can’t do it right, she can’t have them. i said what is she doing that’s wrong? what, because the edges aren’t smooth it means the big giant hearts can’t be written on? he kept persisting until i looked at him and said “did you buy them for her or for you? if you bought them for yourself, then you do them how you want. if you bought them for her, then stop ruining her enjoyment!”

          but it was too late. from that point on, she carefully and dutifully folded and refolded and separated the cards before she carefully and dutifully printed her name in the pencil he handed her instead of the glitter gel pens she’d wanted to use. you know, in case she makes a mistake – she can erase pencil.

          her father was proud.

          i was sad.

          and she doesn’t want the cards any more.

          • Linear Equalist

            That is sad. Kids should be allowed to just be kids. Childhood is messy, and muddy, and shouldn’t be all about rules and neatness.

          • Will

            “the problem is that today’s children are far more heavily programmed to just follow the rules”

            Well thats just plain not true. In previous generations, children got their butts whipped for “not following the rules”. They were forced to go to church, to each whatever their parents told them to eat, and if they complained or talked back, they got punished, or even hit. Children today have more freedom and leeway than ever before. Theyre never punished. They have internet, and tv, and video games, and cell phones. Their parents let them do whatever they want. They get PRAISED for not following the rules. And gender roles today are infinitely less rigid and more relaxed than they literally have EVER been. Youre viewing the past through rose colored glasses.

          • Leanne

            Oh, good heavens, Will – what an insanely biased (and inaccurate) idea you have of how today’s kids live. You’re viewing the present through bile-colored glasses. Why not just tell today’s kids to get off your lawn?

          • sf

            I think the point being addressed is that children aren’t being encouraged to be divergent thinkers (and it’s true. as they grow up, their ability to think divergently decreases). Schools are still the way they were in the industrial age, and there is a lot of ‘there’s one way to do this’ teaching going on.
            The past was certainly more rigid, but there is an issue of gender roles that is different from before.

          • http://snarkypenguin.blogspot.com/ Badtux

            There were no “helicopter parents” in the 1970s. We ran the streets like little savages. Sure, we could get our butts whipped when we were inside the house. But Mom threw us out of the house pretty quickly whenever the weather was good. We played with sticks and rocks and dirt and built log cabins out of sticks we whittled with our pocket knives. We built tree houses in the woods behind our houses out of scrap lumber and nails, and had secret forts from where we would gleefully bombard rival groups of little savages with mud balls. While we were in the presence of adults we had to be controlled, but we were not in the presence of adults most of the time — unlike today, when terrified parents won’t allow kids to walk to the end of their driveway without parental supervision, nevermind two blocks to the community swimming pool (which I was doing at 7 years old).

          • Ann

            I agree more with Will on this one. Previous generations’ kids definitely WERE very much programmed to follow very strict rules about everything from mealtimes to haircuts to clothing to religion to sitting still in school to patriotism and so on. Life for kids is lot more easygoing nowadays and allows for more choices, even if there is more “helicopter parenting” going on. And toys back then, outside of the lego set shown in the ad were VERY conforming. In the ’50s, boys played cowboys and cops and robbers and spacemen. Girls played house.

          • D.Schulz

            I have this same issue, I try to pay attention to how SHE really is,
            she is after all from both of you and there are times when I push the
            creativity, go go go, and spontaneity farther than she or my husband are
            comfortable with. You will get other chances. Maybe your husband can
            help her go over the pencil with glitter marker before Friday :D

          • Geek0id

            You’re husband has issues. Don’t project that to “the problem is that today’s children are far more heavily programmed to just follow the rules – conform -”

          • Jesse Fortner

            This killed me.

      • http://boazandruth.blogspot.com/ My Boaz’s Ruth

        Even way back in 1979 when I got into Legos (before the ad everyone bandies around as the Golden Age of Legos), all of my sets had instructions. I don’t remember a lot of “building anything I wanted” — Give me a boxful of just blocks and I just freeze. maybe I’ll stack them on top of each other. but that’s it. I don’t make anything that looks like anything. But I could start from instructions to make cows, pigs, tractors, farmhouses. and then modify them to make them look like OTHER things.

        The way I played with Legos is just as legitimate as the idealized way many today think Legos OUGHT to be played with. And the beauty is — Lego has provided the means for both of us to play the way we want to. The only difference is now there is a vocal line that says only ONE way should be allowed to be played with and if that doesn’t work for you — tough. No Lego for you.

        • Erin

          That’s a great point. My kids do enjoy making whatever comes to mind but there are tons of idea books currently on the market with instructions to build all kinds of things. I really think there’s something to learn from that. If you learn to play an instrument, for example, you don’t just jump in and compose everything you play. You learn a few things about playing the instrument and then you probably do come up with some things on your own.

      • Will

        If you ever plan on actually becoming any sort of builder or architect, youre DEFINITELY going to have to first learn how to follow a blueprint. Many abstract artists have backgrounds in classical art. Creative writers first have to learn proper spelling and grammar. You cant properly buck conventions without first being aware of what those conventions are.

        And like CLTborn said, kids first build the thing according to the instructions, then they take it apart and use the pieces to build whatever they want. Me and my brother sure did when we were kids. Eventually those instruction booklets get lost, the new LEGO pieces get mixed in with the old, and the only thing you have to build from is your own imagination.

        • stephgob

          Actually, as an architect I can say that it’s more important to figure out how the pieces should go together and then relay that info via drawings (blueprints for those who are old school). I played with legos all thru the 80s, with no instructions on what the final design should look like, and that is why I’m able to be a successful creative designer now. Rules are boring :)

      • http://pathfinder-devilin.blogspot.com/ Suneokun

        LEGO used to about making anything. Ummm it still is. Its always been sold in ‘sets’, I got SPACE sets in 1982 for my 4th birthday. The sets teach you the technique and the complex skills you need… you then go off and freestyle.

        • Jesse Fortner

          While all of that is true, it is harder to find generic “build anything” sets or buckets than it used to be, outside of the Creator line. Modern sets typically have more specialized pieces, too.

          • http://pathfinder-devilin.blogspot.com/ Suneokun

            Actually that’s not all true. I agree that ‘buckets’ of LEGO are harder to come by … but they are available (and really, what else is EBAY for?) LEGO had an epiphany in (I think) 2006… after they nearly went bankrupt and sold off all the theme parks. In the bad old days (1990-2006 ish?) they came up with a new unique spaceship part with every design. It nearly put them in the ground. The new MD had them reduce the piece list from 600+ to the 250 odd you have today. They have invested in mini figures (haircuts, hats, funky faces) and ‘friends’ and corporate liaisons, some good (Lucas and Marvel), some bad (Shell) … but the core LEGO is actually limited to a (comparative) limited list of pieces. The difference is the investment in amazing engineers – building the Millennium Falcon or the city police Chinook is a masterclass in clever SNOT (studs not on top) engineering – just mind blowing. So you’re not entirely wrong, but the history is much more varied and where we are is infinitely better!

      • Noel Wood

        “I’ve seen children playing with lego now, and they are sat there with
        the instruction sheet, putting the right piece in the right place to
        make the thing the box tells you it makes”

        55 years ago, this was the first set ever produced with the modern stud-and-tube brick design:

        http://i.stack.imgur.com/IX4kR.jpg

        There were just as many instructions then as there are now.

        “and that’s just not what lego is meant to be”

        I think LEGO is meant to be whatever the child wants it to be. Why are you so against children playing they way the want to play?

        • Jesse Fortner

          That kid is one snappy dresser.

      • Moribund Cadaver

        Even when older Lego sets had themes, the themes were more flexible. For example, the classic era of “Lego Space”. The spaceship themed sets did build specific space vehicles and objects. But there were few overly-customized “flair” components. The official designs were also made to be functional rather than just cool looking. There were many things they could do. Their practical and creative designs encouraged the builder to make their own variations, using the official design merely as a jumping off point.

        I recall seeing many kids eager to get their hands on more Lego Space sets not to collect all the official toys but to have more parts on hand to make their own spaceship designs and space stations.

      • Bullrosster

        I recommend you watch the Lego movie. It is actually really good and I believe more aimed at adults. It actually is heavily about building legos without looking at the directions.

        • Terry Sifrit

          Though by the same brush, you can achieve great things by following the directions or cooperating. (I personally find merits in both paths where Lego is involved)

        • Nathanael

          The movie was written by people who remember the golden age of 1970s – 1980s Lego.

      • AKF

        The models that you build are still often taken apart and recreated/mixed with other lego pieces.. It depends on the child. As a parent, it’s beneficial to teach the importance of following instructions by paying attention to detail, as well as recreating once lego structure inevitably falls apart. If a child chooses to admire their handiwork by keeping it on a shelf, then that is their choice. There is nothing wrong with being proud of something they worked hard on. On the other hand, I can’t imagine a parent that would be upset with their child for deconstructing their own toy to re-create and mix with other legos. We have a box full of mix-matched legos and it wouldn’t make any sense for us to frantically attempt at keeping every creation in it’s own place. As for gender specific legos, I don’t agree with the invasion of pink for girls. However, it does sell for some girls. I never TRIED to make my daughter like pink, she naturally loves it and always has. She is your typical girly girl, so she likes the fact that she can choose to make a pet shop. She also enjoys making the pirate ship. Really, Lego is meant to be what you want it to be, whether it’s on a shelf because you are proud of it, mixed in with your Barbie toys because you wanted to created your own dollhouse, or altogether mixed with other legos in a big bin. The true message is that every kid should be allowed to express themselves. To CLTborn, I completely agree with you.

      • citymother

        There are many future engineers, architects and scientists who really enjoy following a plan and seeing it to fruition. I don’t think there is anything wrong with kids who enjoy following a building plan and creating something. It gives them a sense of purpose and pride to see what they’ve built.

      • DanB

        “just not what lego is meant to be”
        It depends what type of Lego you have purchased.
        You can purchase a sack of loose pieces that have no intended end creation, or you can purchase a set that is intended to be built into a specific model.
        Lego is meant to be both.
        There is nothing wrong with teaching children to follow an instruction sheet. We do it in adult life often.

      • Celia

        This preference for building the kit, not freestyle building, is not the fault of lego, it’s the fault of the way children’s lives are now, overly scheduled and standardised testing-oriented. I have made a hobby of talking to the staff at children’s museums and science museums and other children’s programming and the older staff usually vehemently agree that in the last 10 or so years kids have become very un-creative and inflexible. My kids go to a hippy science school which encourages exploration and the difference is very obvious.

        I’d also like to point out that “boy’s lego” has become hyper-gendered, too. Everything except the Christmas and architecture sets are about fierce aggressive fighting. Lego city is about emergency vehicles. In a way the “girl lego” is far less gendered than the chima or hive crawler or hobbit lego. At least girls have robotics engineers, horse breeders and musicians – all the boys get is fighters.

    • badfae

      The pre-manufactured thing is often the case with toys marketed to girls, which I think is part of the built-in message Giordano mentions in the article.

      • steph

        That’s the part that bothers me, not so much color of blocks, but the pre-fab girl targeted lego friends. They are hardly Lego’s. Having a rainbow from red through pink, is a non-issue.

    • TimFrom1989

      I grew up playing with LEGOs in the ’90s and early 2000s, and I definitely noticed this to some extent, but it’s gone to an extreme today. When I was growing up, it was exciting when sets had some new, unique pieces, but almost always these pieces could be easily and differently recombined with others to make something new. The back of the instruction books always suggested different kinds of things you might be able to build with the same set. I loved that I had Rock Raiders and Star Wars and Wild West and Pirate LEGOs, but I never felt constrained in what I could build after I tore the original model back down. Today, it seems like a lot of the sets have big, singular pieces made in the interest of exactly representing whatever licensed properties they’re part of, pieces that don’t build into other things nearly as well.

      • Artemis

        There’s been a lot of backlash from adult LEGO collectors about the large specialized pieces trend. A journalist or blogger finally got the opportunity to ask someone at LEGO what was up with that, and their response was something like:

        “We’ve gathered a lot of data / listened to a lot of feedback from our child markets, and what we’re hearing is that the kids want to get to the play experience faster, and spend less time building.”

        It’s a crying shame. If kids want to get to the play experience faster, there is *every other toy in the toy aisles* that will let them do that.

        • Rana

          Wow. As if the building itself was no longer viewed as a form of play!

        • Will

          Marketing and focus groups will be the total ruination of western culture

        • Peter Mackay

          I’m sorry, but the building process is the play. Once the kit is complete, where’s the fun in looking at it? Tear it down and make it into a dragon or a bridge.

        • Noel Wood

          The era of large specialized pieces was about two decades ago. LEGO has since phased out most of the larger “cheat pieces” in favor of the traditional building experience. I haven’t seen a BURP (Big Ugly Rock Piece) in a set in a few years.

      • http://pathfinder-devilin.blogspot.com/ Suneokun

        1990′s and 2000′s were the worst period for LEGO ‘unique’ pieces. It almost bankrupted the company, the number of pieces grew to something like 750! A lot of them were very specific and limited. LEGO nearly went out of business a half dozen years back, and one of the new things they introduced was shaving down the number of pieces down to about 260. I’ve built a lot of LEGO friends with my kids, and normal LEGO and come across a ‘unique’ piece every so often. Most of what you see with Friends and in modern LEGO is very very clever engineering. The way they build toilets, showers, kitchens and barbeques from standardised pieces astounds me. Want to see the real crap in the market, check out the barbie LEGO clone sets.

    • Madrona

      This is exactly why the Friends sets bother me (I am a mom of a 6yo daughter who loves Friends). I was Anti-Friends for a long time. But then, I saw some things on the internet that made me change my mind. Google “Lego Friends MOC” to see what I mean. Rocket ships, hotels, etc. made from Friends pieces. They do seem to have a lot of Specific pieces, though. I emailed Lego to complain about that. It wouldn’t be quite as bad IF they made some large buckets with only “re-buildable” bricks in Friends colors. I emailed that to tell them that too. Hopefully they’ll listen.

      • http://boazandruth.blogspot.com/ My Boaz’s Ruth

        Which bricks do you classify as the only rebuildable ones? The 2x blocks? Maybe the 1x blocks and the tiles can count as well? You might be amazed at the innovative way Friends has used accessories in their buildings. And the way bricks that are not found in the general sets are used in the multitude of My Own Creations put together by some very creative Adult Fan of Legos.

      • Noel Wood

        You mean like this?

        http://shop.lego.com/en-US/LEGO-Pink-Suitcase-10660?fromListing=listing

        Or more like this?

        http://shop.lego.com/en-US/LEGO-Large-Pink-Brick-Box-5560?fromListing=listing

        Or, you know, you could just be creative and understand that every single LEGO element produced for over 50 years is “re-buildable” and stop blaming LEGO for your own lack of creativity.

        • Nathanael

          The huge chunky castle wall tiles produced in the late 80s/early 90s were completely non-rebuildable.

          Thankfully, SOMEONE at Lego seems to have FINALLY realized that these things (known as BURPs in Lego fandom) are terrible.

          • Noel Wood

            The “huge chunky castle wall tiles” and BURPs are two completely different types of elements, and not only are both still produced in some fashion, you might want to ask a Lego Train group or a LUG working on a large scale layout how “terrible” parts like that are.

            Once again, every single LEGO element produced for over 50 years is “re-buildable” if you’ve got an ounce of creativity in you.

    • Peter Mackay

      It’s a question of measure. The kits teach the child the ways of assembly until they know their craft. At that point creativity emerges as the child can look inside themselves for inspiration. Knowing how to make one object well does not eliminate being able to make many more objects.

      Where modern Lego and I differ is that there are far too many pieces that only fit one model. A custom fairing for a spaceship might be hard to incorporate into other creations, for example.

      • Noel Wood

        “Where modern Lego and I differ is that there are far too many pieces
        that only fit one model. A custom fairing for a spaceship might be hard
        to incorporate into other creations, for example”

        Sure, if you have no creativity whatsoever. For me, finding creative uses for unique parts is half the fun of building. For crying out loud, there’s a tree at the top of the creation in the 1981 ad that started all of this! What do you think that is?

        • Peter Mackay

          I had the very same tree. And yes, there are an amazing number of uses for small, apparently specific parts. Castle walls can easily serve double duty.

          But when the part is as big as an adult fist and is (say) the bow of a ship, there’s not a lot else can be done apart from make another very similar ship – along with the matching hull and matching stern.

          • Noel Wood

            Or, you can be creative and clever and think outside the box and instructions. I’ve used this part as a balcony in a building before:

            http://www.findmybrick.com/images/P1040162.JPG

            I’ve seen this one used in architecture as well:

            http://i.stack.imgur.com/783RZ.png

            I mean, how is that different from a tree, which is also a part designed by the same rationale for a singular function?

            I should also mention that those parts aren’t “modern” – they haven’t been produced in 20 years.

            You, like many of the other critics of LEGO, are looking at this through clouded nostalgic lenses. As someone who has been collecting and building for 35 years, I can tell you that the vast majority of the arguments made in this article and thread are completely unfounded.

          • Noel Wood

            And looking at that deck piece I linked above again, I can’t wait to go use it for part of the head of a giant steampunk robot. I may have to go start that project tonight!

          • Peter Mackay

            If so many people hold them, then how can views be completely unfounded?

            I do take your point about creativity and repurposing parts such as the robot jaw above, which could also be used as (say) the prow of a boat.

            But if someone holds an opinion, don’t you feel that it is just as valid as your own?

          • Noel Wood

            “If so many people hold them, then how can views be completely unfounded?”

            Because an opinion based on ignorance of a subject is a baseless one. I can argue all day that the Earth is flat, but I’d be wrong. The same applies for those who think that LEGO marketing pink bricks to girls is a new trend, or that LEGO only markets gender-specific sets, or that the idea that sets with specific instructions are a recent development, or that LEGO no longer sells buckets of plain bricks.

            All of those arguments are being made on this page. All of those arguments are invalid.

          • Peter Mackay

            There are facts which may be demonstrated. For example, building a wall by alternating bricks instead of piling them up in columns is a better and stronger method.

            But opinions, as to how one should play with Lego and what kits to buy, these are not subject to a simple true/false logic, are they?

            I’m not downplaying your own opinion, but I see it as an opinion, and everybody has an opinion.

            It’s when people say that their opinions are better than those of other people that we run into problems. Perhaps Lego should provide a few gulag or concentration camp kits?

          • Noel Wood

            Please re-read my response:

            “The same applies for those who think that LEGO marketing pink bricks to
            girls is a new trend, or that LEGO only markets gender-specific sets, or
            that the idea that sets with specific instructions are a recent
            development, or that LEGO no longer sells buckets of plain bricks.”

            People are basing their opinions on these ideas which are factually incorrect. If I say something like “Abraham Lincoln was a bad President”, then I’m expressing an opinion that you may or may not agree with.

            If I say “Abraham Lincoln was a bad President because he started slavery in the United States”, then I am expressing an opinion based on an untrue representation of history. That’s when the argument becomes invalid.

    • http://pathfinder-devilin.blogspot.com/ Suneokun

      You obviously haven’t built any LEGO in the last six years.. I got back into LEGO with my daughter (6) and son (4). LEGO friends is difficult, exacting and demanding in engineering and technical terms. There is no difference, except the figures. Spend some money on a set and talk about what you know about. PS: The set on the left also came with builds, she’s just free styling… every child plays different. There’s no greater or lesser merit to it.

      • Daryl Van Ry

        I agree….the high school was a nice challenging build and has really nice details.

    • Lee Thesuperflea

      not true, the sets bought with instructions can be used to make other creations.
      But if you want something with no instructions or more selection of parts there is multi sets and bulk boxes.

    • Noel Wood

      “You put it together once, there is only one right way to do it. And
      there’s a subtle pressure not to combine it with other models to create
      your own thing, just to put it on a shelf and look at it, or play with
      it as a completed toy. It’s anti-creative”

      No. Just no.

      And if you don’t believe me, check out the 100-minute movie that is currently in theaters in which LEGO encourages taking apart and rebuilding sets. It’s kind of crucial to the story.

    • Geek0id

      Most kids don’t. They take it apart. My kids took thing like palm tree leaves and turned them into cool looking space engines.

      That said, when did model building become something to be frowned upon?

    • Greg Barton

      Dude, those pieces all end up in one lego pile eventually. It’s not that big of a deal. After the first construction they all get recombined in the “let’s just build some shit” fashion.

    • Marta

      I totally agree. When I was a child Legos were the “extra cool” building blocks because they stayed together and you could move your “creation” about and really play with it. I raised two sons and purchased many Lego “kits” for them. You are so right. They were very enthusiastic about putting the kits together, but then they ended up as a display as it was complicated to assemble and they didn’t want to hurt it. Of note-my younger son was actually drawn to the “girl” items. We didn’t care as we wanted him to enjoy his toys. We did receive uneducated comments in regard to his choice, though. He ended up OK, though, unharmed by his “girly” Lego. He is in medical school and in a serious relationship with a wonderful young woman although we would have been fine if he was involved with wonderful young man.

    • Hannah Bemel

      Shane, I could’t agree with you more!

    • Erin

      Our children get those big LEGO sets that make a specific model and they’re great. On the first day, when they put it together they learn some things about engineering, following directions, expanding their attention span, working together. After that when the pieces start to go missing from their models they learn about being detached from material things and resilience. And finally, when the whole thing is broken apart and the LEGOS are just more pieces in the LEGO box, they have a set of toys they can enjoy using endlessly.

    • Marf

      All Lego sets have always come with various instructions for specific things to create. The Friends products do come with instructions, however there are additional instructions on the website for different creations which can be made by mixing certain sets. Also, subtle pressure to not combine it with other models and create your own thing? Why would that apply more to these sets than any other Lego set since they ALL come with plans for specific toys to build? I know a lot of kids who play with Legos, and I don’t know any who build from the instructions and then never take it apart and build their own thing and change it to conform with their play. When my daughter got the puppy’s playground in the Friends set, it included a seesaw. After building it according to instructions, she removed the seesaw bench and replaced it with a much longer plank she found in her box of random Lego bricks so that all of her Lego animals could fit on the seesaw at once. I’m just so sick of critical claims that aren’t backed up.

    • melinda

      Well said. As an art teacher, of over a decade, my appreciation for applied arts has only grown. I cannot begin to speak of the great importance we have, as art educators, to inspire our students to correlate our subject to the real world around them. Art will always be the elephant in the room unless we can teach about its function on the educational STEM wheel STEAMing through all subjects. Art can make things interesting for everyone when allowed to apply it as a realistic team player. Articles about how it helps brain function and assists students in the GAP will not be enough anymore. Show how it helps to make things work and art teacher will continue to work in education. Refuse to show realistic applications and you may end up being refused a job!

    • rin68nyr

      Which is why we keep the manuals, but all pieces from all kits get combined into one set of drawers…small pieces in top medium in the middle, and large at the bottom…my kids HAVE created their own ideas in this way, but they can still grab the manuals if they want to make an exact model. However, i do wish LEGO would continue to offer generic sets that encourage kids to use their imagination.

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  • Zornskin

    Step 1. Develop a toy.
    Step 2. Market without bias.
    Step 3. Review the numbers. Initial numbers will clearly indicate a potential audience and identify potential untapped market.
    Step 4. Perform study to guage method to reach potential untapped market.
    Step 5. Adjust marketing and or product to reach potential untapped market.
    Step 6. Build marketing(based on opinions garnered from focus groups) and possibly modified toy(modified according to opinions garnered from focus groups).

    Result:
    If untapped market was boys, marketing campaign and or product succeeds or fails – company either reaps rewards or goes back to the drawing board.
    Result:
    If untapped market was girls, marketing campaign and or product succeeds
    or fails – company either reaps rewards or goes back to the drawing
    board, but this is lost due to the wails of collective internet outrage because the some versions of the product are now stereotypically ‘girly’. Since that’s what the focus groups asked for.

    Seriously. Why would anyone continue to bother asking women what they want, if every response is a trap?

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  • Sally

    My Mum bought me girl’s lego once. I was like “What is this stuff? There’s hardly anything to build? And why is all of it pink?! I don’t even like pink!” Time for change, definitely. Good job when you’re kids you’re not even aware that it’s really sexism.

  • Anne

    I’m curious what the author thinks about GoldieBlox (http://www.goldieblox.com/)?

    • Ivan Cunningham

      aren’t those just tinker toys with a base?

  • Rosie

    When Lego came out with the Friends line I was appalled, for
    many of the same reasons that the author discussed in this post. But then I started looking into it more, asking friends what they thought of it. It turns out that there were many girls raised to believe that lego is a boys toy. And this attitude still
    persists. And lego is an international toy, sold in countries whose views aren’t quite as opened as our own. My views on the lego friends line have now
    changed. I think lego did the research, realized that missing market and went for it.
    The friends line is now equaling the City and Creator lines that lego sells. If making pink blocks opens up a world of creative thinking to girls whose families differentiate between boy toys and girl toys then good for lego.

    The color of the blocks never did make a difference to the way my parents raised me, and they won’t make a difference to how I raise my children. It would be nice if the world
    felt the way this author does. It doesn’t. Good for lego for bridging the gap.

    • Clarity

      Even if they are advertising to include the children, they didn’t have to change the base Lego structure. If Lego did adapt to the world so that girls could have equal opportunity because their parents wouldn’t walk down the blue and pink aisles with them, they should have made the sets completely interchangeable for the parents that would buy their child toys from any aisle, regardless of the color.

      • Rosie

        They are completely interchangeable. The base structure is exactly the same, the only thing different is the lego figures, but all the pieces work together.

        • badfae

          The point I think Clarity was trying to make is that the “for girls” stuff has a lot more pre-fabricated, “this is how you’re supposed to use this” items (like the van in the article). If it were just a case where you could buy a set of bricks that included pink, just like the ones that don’t, I don’t think there would be as much of an issue.

        • Clarity

          I obviously don’t have children. I can see now, that the Lego pieces are the same, but why change the look of the figures so much? I would say if the Lego characters looked the same as all other Lego’s, people wouldn’t be as astounded. The Friends set and the Disney Princess set are the only figures that look different, both of which I’m guessing would be in the pink aisles. The Simpsons, The Ninja Turtles, Marvel, and DC figurines all look more all the other Lego figures being advertised at this current time.

          • Rosie

            I happen to be a huge lego fan (and in a strange twist got back into lego after reading an article like this when the Friends set first came out 3 or so years ago, browsed the available sets and couldn’t resist buying and building again). The color debate is pretty much over within the lego fan circles, people love the colors and use them to make better models, and lego uses the ‘Friends’ colors in almost all their sets now as they are great for accents. They are just the main colors in the friend sets.
            The figure debate is still going strong. No one (including me) seems to understand the need for new figures, the other figures still do the job just fine. The other hot debate is using ‘flesh’ colored faces on the licensed sets like Star Wars, Marvel, Lord of the Rings. . . instead of the yellow heads. Poor lego, so many controversies so little time.

          • Clarity

            Great replies. Thanks for answering my questions. I suppose I had only previously glanced at the ‘Friends’ Lego set and assumed that it wasn’t interchangeable because of the figurines looking so different. I didn’t know about the ‘flesh’ colored debates. I can imagine how that debate looks. I suppose that Lego might want to consider doing some larger test audiences on projected ideas. Though, they may have to some extent because I can recall many people in the generic aisle of Legos in the store exclaiming they didn’t have *insert set of Legos* or Legos like this when I was a kid. There are so many more options now. I suppose there could be something for consistency of the figures. I don’t think anyone would care about the color of Lego blocks at that point. Now, the ‘flesh’ colored faces, I think someone will always have an opinion on that…

          • TCinTheKnow

            Lego created more options than before. Not one single person on the planet, under any government regime is required to buy any of them. The definition of this expanded choice without duress of consequences is “FREEDOM”. If you aren’t a fan of freedom and don’t want people to chose such items – try relocating to North Korea. That will give you great piece of mind. There are no Lego’s to be upset about in that domain.

          • Clarity

            I’m quite aware the people have the freedom to buy or not buy. I don’t want to restrict anyone’s purchase. (Had you read all of my responses, since all of them were on here before you commented, you would see that I am definitely pro-toy choices.) However, since we do live in a country with freedom, I am (along with everyone else here, including you) allowed to question why a company, Lego in this instance, would choose to change only their figures when marketing the same toy to a variety of groups. I think changing the figures when the rest of the set is same makes the set not as interchangeable as it could be. I think that marketing choice is odd. For example: if you buy Lego Friends and Lego City, the figures don’t look like they are the same type of people. This is because the base characters aren’t from the same type of mold (even though all of their background is the same.) If I were buying Legos and wanted different looking options, I would be more likely to buy Duplo or Hero Factory. Obviously, Lego is free to do as they wish and have made some awesome products. But, just remember the same freedom entitles me to question why they chose to market something a certain way or why they make something a certain way, or ask them to make something else. Freedom is a two way street. Maybe you could use a little of your freedom to consider all the facts before responding so rashly.

    • Yo

      Thank you, Rosie. My thoughts exactly! I have a two year old daughter who is just in love with Lego Duplo. The color scheme doesn’t bother me at all. So they make pink/pastel colored bricks, no big deal. We walk down the Lego aisle at the store, and I let her pick out what *she* wants. It’s her toy, and it’s her creativity, not mine.

      • threenorns

        that’s the thing: at my local store, it’s not a “lego aisle”: the girls legos are in the girls’ toy aisle, the boys legos are in the boys’ toy aisle. if i want her to have both, i have to take her down the boys’ aisle and, at six, she doesn’t want to go down the boys’ aisle because “i can’t go down there – that’s for boys! they might see me and laugh!”

        • http://boazandruth.blogspot.com/ My Boaz’s Ruth

          …Really? My 6 year old boy has no problem going down “girls” aisles. He’ll even look at the Friends Legos (though he hasn’t asked to buy any yet. He prefers superheroes) Never made a peep as if it was any different than any other toy aisle.

  • Caitlyn S.

    I buy pink legos for my daughter. Not because she is a girl, but because I found it so difficult to separate my son’s from my daughter’s. He hates her taking his legos and I found this the best solution. Pink and blue bins litter my house and toy bins. Although most of our sets come with set instructions, my children don’t use them. So, I actually do like the pink legos. It makes my life easier and less arguing between siblings. I get the idea of not wanting to market seperately, but as a parent I welcome it. My house is now quieter as a result.

    • Anitra Smith

      Funny, Caitlyn, I’m exactly the opposite. I’ve decreed to my children that our toys are for EVERYONE. Each kid gets a small bin for “their” toys that don’t have to be shared. And my 3-year-old son is starting to get the message that pink is for girls, so I avoid getting too much pink.

    • Tay Beth Bugeaud

      So when I was a kid, my parents did this. My brother got standard lego. I got pink and pastel blue megablox, which were lego compatible.

      I never played with my ‘lego’ because I hated the colours. I’ve never seen a pink or pastel blue garage for cars. I wanted to make a good garage for my cars and I was stuck with pink and pastel blue.

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  • Anitra Smith

    I don’t think the LEGO Friends toys are bad, in themselves – nor do I with many “girl” toys. But I try to buy my children non-obviously gendered toys as much as possible. EVERYONE in my family can play with mom’s old Legos, Little People, wagon, Play-doh, etc. Why should play cooking or doctor’s sets or vacuums or lawn mowers be gendered? I don’t expect my sons and my daughter to play in exactly the same ways, but they can play with the same toys (yes, GoldieBlox, too). This seems to be lost in today’s environment, where the marketers realized a long time ago that they make more money if they can sell me one version for my son and another version for my daughter.

    • TCinTheKnow

      Seriously? You don’t know the answer? Really? You have children and you are that oblivious to this?
      Because, even if you haven’t noticed, boys like different things than girls. If you optimize the appeal of a product to optimize it’s sale, the boy toys will be different than the girl toys. It turns out that throughout history all the way back to evidence in Egyptian Archeology they have discovered this pattern.
      Boys and girls play together as they have for thousands of years while integrating these differences in interested.
      If you haven’t noticed this, are unaware of the realities around you such as gender differences (The American Medical Association has) I truly and deeply feel for your children.

      • owlice

        Interesting that at daycare, I saw boys choosing to “play Barbies”, and once there were four of them, that was it — the girls were shut out for that play session.

        The reality is that kids should be able to choose for themselves what to play with, without the gender messages that adults would foist onto them. If my truck- and car-loving boy wanted to “play Barbies” — and he sometimes did — he should be able to, and not get a message from someone like you that that is somehow bad.

      • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

        I have two friends who have daughters just about six months younger than my son. Both girls, when they were little, had lots of different types of toys and would play with toy cars and LEGO just as much as the “girl toys.” Then around the time they turned five, the interest in cars and LEGO faded and the girls played with “girl toys” almost exclusively from then on.

        No one can convince me that this is a biological difference. My belief is, and always will be, that over time these girls picked up from the culture around them that girls and boys like different types of toys.

      • Anitra Smith

        No, you’re the one who doesn’t get it. As I said above, my children don’t play with toys in the same way, but that doesn’t mean I need to have one set of toys for my boys and another set for my girl. You’re also assuming that all boys are alike and all girls are alike. Each kid has different interests, and I don’t want to tell any of them that what they want to play with is not ok because it’s not made for their gender – either explicitly (a friend of mine who only has girls brought out trucks for my son to play with saying “here, we have some boy toys, too”) or implicitly (boys early on get the message that pink is for girls, so anything pink is obviously not for them to play with).

        There are obvious differences between my children, and some are due to gender. But they don’t need to be shoe-horned into the mold that marketers build, either: where all boys play with cars and superheroes and motorized toys, all girls play with dolls and cooking and playing “house”, and never the two shall meet. Sorry, that doesn’t happen in my house. EVERYONE here likes LEGO, and cooking, and superheroes. Of course my daughter spends time pretending to be a princess, and my 3-year-old son likes to pretend to shoot people. She builds castles and houses for dolls to live in, he builds roads and overpasses for cars and trains. And that’s OK!

      • Nathanael

        I call bullshit. You’re simply wrong that “boys like different things than girls”. This is bullshit of the highest order; pure made-up nonsense garbage.

        Boys and girls both want to be perceived as “fitting in”. So if you tell them that something is for “girls only” or “boys only” they’ll comply. But if you don’t, you find that everyone has different tastes. Some boys like playing “parent” with dolls, some girls like playing warrior with trucks.

  • jennaz

    Not for nothing, and gender messaging notwithstanding, Lego sucks.

    The point that is missing here is that Lego used to have a Universal Building Set. A big box of Lego bricks in tons of sizes. Now, the only way to buy Legos is in a kit, with step by step instructions to build the toy on the cover, and exactly enough parts to do it.

    It isn’t just girls getting screwed here. It’s kids, it’s creativity, and it’s American ingenuity. It is the dumbing down of our culture, and the lock step into good little workers. No more having to think, dream, or create because somebody else already did that for you.

    We need to protect both genders from this crap. Address that, and the gender targeted toys will go away on their own.

  • Blue

    It seems to me that not only is there a gender problem, but that Lego is having a problem with sets that are too structured. It used to be about free play–building your own spaceship or house or whatever. Now all the sets are very directed, and they started adding so many “boy” sets (many with licensing, like the Star Wars ones) that they had to add “girl” (Friends) sets because they were losing half the market. The girls weren’t interested in the aggressively boy sets.

    Kids are pressured to conform not just to gender but to a rigid, single way to build. I was very anti-Friends at first but my daughter was so much more interested in building with them that we got some. I’m glad she is building but I am sorry that both girls and boys are being put into these little conformist boxes, both in their gender and in how they play with their toys. Sad to say, it is a reflection of the times we live in, with backlash to the very idea of feminism. It is too bad for boys too–what if there is a boy who is more drawn to the storylines of the Friends sets, but feels like he can’t partake because of the gender designation?

  • fakename

    Apparently we’re going to Ignore the Scale, Paradisa, and Belville lines for the purposes of this article, ESPECIALLY since the 1981 ad went out a scant year after the Scala theme had been on shelves for two years. You can still buy your daughter a bucket of basic coloured bricks to play with, and Lego is still making lines marketed to girls. Nothing at all has changed.

    • threenorns

      maybe YOU can – i can’t. the local toy store doesn’t carry them “neutral” – boys’ legos are in the boys’ aisle, girls’ lego is in the girls’ aisle.

      • TCinTheKnow

        YOU are on the Internet and can’t deny it,,, YOU and anyone else on the planet that has any modicum of freedom can in fact buy the referenced set.

  • David Eaton

    I won’t disagree that there’s a discussion to be had regarding gender stereotyping, but this is NOT a new thing by any means. Here’s a set from 1979:

    http://www.1000steine.com/brickset/small/308-1.jpg

    Or take a look at this image for boys, also from 1979:

    http://www.1000steine.com/brickset/small/454-1.jpg

    Construction toys have sadly almost always been preferred by boys rather than girls. And while LEGO’s attempts at targeting boys have been wildly successful for years, their attempts to cater to girls have flopped. Belville, Paradisa, Clikits, Scala– barrages of pink and pastel that couldn’t turn a profit (or, much of one). But now LEGO Friends has met with success.

    Since the late 1970′s, LEGO has attempted to target a “boy” market, a “girl” market, and a gender neutral market. And all three are still out there. If you want to buy generic LEGO, check out a Creator set:

    http://www.1000steine.com/brickset/small/31021-1.jpg
    http://www.1000steine.com/brickset/small/31026-1.jpg
    http://www.1000steine.com/brickset/small/31011-1.jpg
    http://www.1000steine.com/brickset/small/31012-1.jpg

    Gender neutral, run-of-the-mill LEGO. So, let’s avoid saying that LEGO’s changed its gender targeted marketing. It hasn’t. It’s simply done a better job of it recently (profit-wise), and dumped more money into it, making it more visible. If you want to make a statement to LEGO, buy their gender neutral stuff for your kids.

  • Bob Dobalina

    Image macros and memes are not the same thing.

    Just saying.

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  • julia_disqus

    I like this 1981 ad not only because it’s not pink, but the message explicitly says “it’s for KIDS” not “this is an engineering toy for girls”. The pinkification of girls’ toys is only a corollary that toys got gender segregated. Any reason not to desegregate them? Instead of “we need to make better engineering toys for girls”.

    I believe that there are much more serious problems then just pinkification alone. Kids who don’t like toys of “their gender” are socially punished, ostracized, alienated by their own gender (or both), and even diagnozed with gender dysphoria and considered transgender. With all the burdens of being presumed transgender. As an experiment, I took an online test on gender dysphoria (what a bunch of horrible stereotypes!). Well, today I would’ve been considered a transgender kid, just because I had some boy friends and played with “boys toys” (well, TODAY’s boys toys) and liked doing “boys chores” at home. Also, a “nice touch” is that social awkwardness and divorced parents add to a child being “transgender”… (where does *this* come from?). We talk about lack of women in STEM then turn around and label those girls who like STEM toys (stereotypically boys’) as “not-girls”. How is this supposed to help?

    • Daniel Resley

      Then stop calling them all those things.

      You want change? Then fucking work for it. Stop waxing poetic about how the world sucks, and if we only passed a bunch of laws then the world would not suck, which didn’t work for the Soviets on freaking farming practices, and I seriously doubt the human condition is simpler than growing communist-approved corn.

      Yes, I’m angry, because you drag in these online tests as if they mean squat. It’s not accredited, it’s not researched, and most importantly it’s not linked, and then all your answer is ‘let’s force big powers to shift so the world will trickle down progress for me’. Or, you can take the path that doesn’t kill jobs, anger fans, rally counter-protests, and put LEGO off of ever talking to anyone again… and just make a choice as a parent what you’re going to do for your kids.

      You want to give kids the power to choose what they want? Then do that. Walk them into the aisle, and tell them they can buy whatever they want. And then buy it. You help the economy AND you got him exactly what he wanted. He made the choice without as little influence as possible, and afterwards, when you’re done, talk to him about why he thinks he bought it. Give him or her the chance to think about it. And there’s no ‘wrong’ answer. If they bought boy legos or girl legos as a boy or a girl, there’s not a wrong answer. If they say they didn’t want it because they didn’t want anything ‘girly’ or ‘too boyish’ then don’t get angry, ask what made them feel that way, and what the answer would be if those elements were gone. You’ll learn about what your kid thinks, grow as a family, and actually get involved directly. Then when he or she grows up, they’re still thinking about those elements as they grow. They might well choose to stay traditional, and there is nothing wrong with that. Or they might choose something different, nothing wrong with that either. And when they have the thought of choice, they spread that choice as the standard to their generation, and people are happy with what they like.

      That’s not as fast as a law or a boycott, but it works so much better because it actually changed the culture, not the legal environment. A law is not sacrosanct, especially when it’s out to enforce a concept, because you haven’t changed the people, and no matter how right you think you are, (I won’t say you’re right by default, because generations from now we could be wrong about everything) the opposition comes in with the old way now popular, then your New Coke law’s out the window. It’s not the patriarchy, it’s poor tactics that only serve to hurt your case in the long run.

      None of your social justice warriors or culturally aware people talk about that. Change is a goddamn slag through tar. Don’t believe me? How long did it take for representational democracy to get to Europe? Thousands of years. How long have we even considered equal representation in that for both genders in that democracy? Hundreds of years. How many millennia did it take for the world to collectively (mostly) decide owning people was a bad idea? Eons! So how many do you think it will take to radically shift how family, society, gender, sex, age and relationships are from anything different than what we are? We aren’t cell phones, we’re not technology that can radically shift based on think-tanking and parts-swapping, we’re human beings with a lot of ideas. Put yours out in the aether, and cross your fingers. Legal shifts are only the visible part of social icebergs.

      • threenorns

        angry, much?

        • Daniel Resley

          Your statement implies a scenario where anger is wild, unpredictable, and not built on frustration that the issues of intent and action are overlooked because of tone policing or some other social justice hoop I didn’t jump through.

          • Ivan Cunningham

            good for you in not trying to hide your anger (the first step to change is recognizing that you have a problem, blah blah blah). couple things here: 1) being angry on the internet accomplishes exactly jack squat, and 2) did i just completely miss the part of the article and/or any of the above posts where people talked of boycotts or changing laws? if i did, i apologize (maybe it’s time for new glasses), but otherwise, where the hell did that rant come from???

          • Guest

            Shut up Ivan. You’re not the friggin Internet Attitude police. Daniel & lots of people are sick of the PC squad bullies, Liberals & Feminists & others whose aim is to shame & bully society into subscribing to their disturbed angry philosophy. Many girls like pink & dolls & princesses. Lego made toys these girls wanted. It’s not some evil agenda to keep girls subservient to boys, separate brothers & sisters from playing together or to brain wash them into becoming Stepford Wives. Lori needs to get over herself & her childhood issues.

      • http://www.rebeccarachmany.com/ Rebecca Rachmany

        Doing something about it is both easy and hard these days. We recently posted a video with great girl characters on YouTube (Purple and Nine). It was fairly easy, though costly, to create our own content, and the same for the future toys. Getting into the toy stores, well, that’s a bit harder, but possible, as seen with GoldieBlox.

        • Daniel Resley

          Of course it’s hard. That’s why change is rare. Change is radically altering the paradigm to better fit a shifting social environment, and no law or boycott changes the paradigm, the paradigm has to change first.

          We all look at, for instance, the world of slavery, and because perhaps of the narrative described, we see it as the bad thing we did between the 1500s to the 1800s but then suddenly in 50 years everyone agreed was wrong to do, But movements like these are the visible glacier in the fathoms-deep iceberg of social change. Slavery had been around longer than any trade routes, and only was able to last so long because no one in Africa (especially not the tribes that sold other tribes to us) or the Middle East (who bought most of the other tribes, but didn’t have a sustained population of slave descendants because castrating and buying new ones was easier to do between connected continents) because for thousands of years slavery was a thing people just did. Ancient Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Indians, all had slaves for millenia, and the spark from Europe was only because the movement had grown so distant to all but the richest in Europe, combined with centuries of people reacting and saying ‘no this isn’t right’.

          Then centuries after that idea was perpetuated, the slave trade ended but the population stayed. Some slaves were freed, and became workers in a society that made them into the sore thumb on a system people were more and more uncomfortable with. Concepts like Liberia were introduced, (a new African nation created for former slaves to return to Africa. It’s been… well, about as successful as any African nation designed from outside forces.) and several slave revolts spiked up, until finally the battle lines were drawn, several thousand years after the issue of slavery began. By contrast, reconstruction, the legal attempt to reconnect the former southern states to the union, only led to further bitterness, a sense that politicians weren’t just speaking for the south because of being black, but because of their legal backing. When combined with a notion of uncaring politicians, politics that feel above and beyond the people, and the only answer being ‘it’s good for you’, then you could have the greatest idea in the world, but no one will want it. So, in rolls the opposition, and 100 years of segregation with it.

          I don’t have the answer to what they should have done during Reconstruction. I’m not knowledgeable in every fact of history, but we have a difference between a long hard walk to change, versus demanding change here, and now and fast, when no one is any mood to accept it. The slow and steady march is never glamorous. There’s no exciting marches, you don’t get to stand in front of your oppressors and say ‘HEAR US ROAR!!!’. But you also win, eventually. Everything big begins small, and everything small gets enough time to be passed around, shaped, and transmuted in the human condition to slowly break away from all the things that seem so down-trodding. And that change may not even be YOUR child buying some gender-defying toy, or not buying what he’s ‘supposed’ to buy. But as long as you discuss with him, ask him those questions of ‘why do you think you liked this toy?’ then enough of a seed is planted for him to consider it, and not feel bogged down with ‘because you’re aware, now you also have to do it like this or you’re a bigot,’ whether that was your intention or not.

          Social movements seem fast because time always seem faster when it’s in the past, but centuries are centuries, millennia are millennia, eons are eons, and change is not a generational shift alone. Never think the small things you can do won’t make a difference. They may well make more difference than any million-dollar lobbying campaign for a quick-fix quota law could hope to do.

          • Nathanael

            In this case, the complaint is about a REACTIONARY change. Back in the late 70s, early 80s, we’d FIXED the problem of gender-segregated toy aisles… and now a bunch of deranged sexist pig marketers are trying to *resegregate* them.

            What’s next, reintroduction of slavery? (Don’t tell me, someone probably will try.)

    • Max Vincent

      As a kid who was born female, played with boys toys, wanted to do “boys” chores at home (and wasn’t allowed to), played “house” with my cousins but was always the “father” and grew up to be Trans, it wasn’t the playing with boys toys or playing house and being the “father” or any of that: I was born Transgender. The sooner that heterosexual parents realize they give birth to kids that will grow up to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, Transgender or Transsexual, the sooner we can get rid of the nonsense that there are toys that should be labeled “boys” or “girls” toys. Your kids are going to fall into whatever gender they are supposed to regardless of whatever toys they play with, folks, because their gender is hardwired and no amount of G.I. Joes and Raggedy Ann dolls is going to change that.

      So push for little girls to excel in STEM and push for little boys to get interested in cooking, because both of them are going to need the skills they pick up in science, math, technology, cooking and anything along those lines. A man who can cook, keep a clean house and keep up his grades while going through nursing school is pretty damned appealing to a partner who is male OR female; a woman who can change the oil in her own car and then go inside and whip through four pages of trig homework is not only going to be a catch for a good university but for a potential partner, also male or female.

      • Max Vincent

        And please keep buying them Legos and letting them build whatever they want to. Stimulating creativity in children is always a very good thing.

      • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

        The sooner that heterosexual parents realize they give birth to kids
        that will grow up to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, Transgender or
        Transsexual

        I think that this is part of the reason for gender-binary toys. Some parents fear that their child will grow up to be gender nonconformant and so they push the “correct” gender toys to try to enforce gender conformity.

    • threenorns

      hm, curious: when my daughter plays house with her toys, she is the barbie doll – because it’s the smallest. dad is the T-rex, because it’s the biggest. i’m the voltron doll because it’s red like my hair (was at the time).

      the T-Rex is always telling everybody dinner is ready and go get your laundry.
      the voltron doll is always saying “i have to go to the hardware store – anybody coming with?”
      and the barbie doll is always saying “oh, MAN, i have to reboot AGAIN!”

    • Nathanael

      What you said. Just ’cause I like so-called girls toys doesn’t make me a girl. The toys aren’t male or female, for goodness sakes.

  • Lori Day

    I’m
    the author of this piece and I love this great discussion thread. I just want to add that
    one of the other consequences of gender-segmented toys is
    gender-segmented play. I grew up with two brothers playing with the
    Universal sets–together. It’s a huge downside when brothers don’t want
    to play with pink/purple Friends sets, or sisters don’t like “boy
    Legos,” and they play together less. We need boys and girls playing
    together while they are young, before they (the ones who are
    heterosexual) begin to look at each other as possible romantic partners.
    Male/female friendships are also important because boys and girls will
    become men and women who work together and raise kids together. So, I
    feel that the *marketing* of Legos to all children–not
    gender-separate–is important. All colors are for all children. All
    themes are for all children. Let them decide without having to cross
    aisles and risk their social capital. That takes a lot of ego strength.
    Let’s stop doing that to kids. ~Lori Day

    • Graham Freeman

      http://aboutus.lego.com/en-us/legal-notice/fair-play

      “Proper Use of the LEGO Trademark on a Web Site

      If the LEGO trademark is used at all, it should always be used as an adjective, not as a noun. For example, say “MODELS BUILT OF LEGO BRICKS”. Never say “MODELS BUILT OF LEGOs””

      • Rachel Storch

        It’s not really her responsibility to police Lego’s trademark. They put that there because they know their mark is threatened by genericide. It’s not like they can actually stop people from using “lego” as a noun.

        • TCinTheKnow

          It’s not really a woman’s responsibility to police rape laws…. It’s the police job. So… good luck with that.

          No wait… in this scenario they are committing the rape.

          It’s not the rapist job to police rape laws!

          • Rachel Storch

            What? It’s not trademark infringement just to use a word… Infringement requires use in commerce… but good job both 1) getting the law wrong and 2) choosing the most offensive possible analogy.

      • threenorns

        yeah, yeah, yeah, you gonna report me to the kleenex police because i call it “kleenex” and not “kleenex brand tissues”?

      • TCinTheKnow

        Go ahead, create something unique, important, and world wide recognizable – and then be told by some plebeian that hasn’t created a single unique and recognizable or even memorable thing in their existence that your copywriter is irrelevant. Sure that doesn’t matter to the masses, but what if.. what if.. what if at the longest of odds your children do something unique and important? (Lord knows you have no interest in such things) Might you have more respect then?
        Doing something that is clearly, ethically and legally wrong doesn’t in itself make it right.

    • MJNY15

      I love this. You’re exactly right.

      • TCinTheKnow

        You get that ‘those who are “heterosexual” i.e.: 96% of the population by any scientific poll ever preformed: have played together and grown to adults and married and nurtured and supported their offspring for thousands of years. The arrogance and ignorance of anyone who ignores these facts for their own political activism and personal agenda is contemptable.

        • Ivan Cunningham

          for “thousands of years”, people could also expect to only live into their 30s, integrated play ended as soon as they had to start training for their prescribed gender role (part of which involved getting married and being an “adult” and starting a family by their mid to late teens), and the majority of people never left their villages. i have a hard time seeing why, with all the advances in knowledge, medicine, tech, lifespans, etc we’ve made over the last couple/few hundred years, we would want to cling to shit people were doing for thousands of years because they didn’t know any better.

          • Ivan Cunningham

            for that matter, look at any number of non-human species in the animal kingdom: they also “have played together and grown… and nurtured and supported their offspring for thousands of years”

    • floridaatheist

      My 9 year old daughter took a cash gift and purchased the yacht looking LEGO Friends kit. She built it and sailed it around the table for a short while but then, when her brothers (6 and 4) weren’t watching, she conducted a raid on the the Throneroom of the Goblin King(Christmas present to all of the kids) ,supplemented by a bunch of ninjas who somehow had cars AND a helicopter. The Friends Force absconded with all of the catapults and a LOT of bow and arrows and swords, returned to their table and armed themselves. Several tow barges were built and armed with various Star Wars robots, Duplo animals and other half built minifigs. Then the assault began and the battle was awesome!

      There was no gender-segmented play that day let me tell you Lori as allegiances switched, alliances fell to pieces and eventually all of the blame fell on the Goblin King.

      Maybe my house is odd but the girl/boy thing doesn’t mean much of anything especially when it comes to LEGO. All LEGO ends up in the big plastic bin eventually and all pieces combine and re-combine. The only constant that I can see is the Friends blackboard from the scientist kit which is attached by my daughters wall using a substance that smells funny (and might be beans). The important part is that I secure all of the instructions and once every month or so one of the kids comes and takes one and briefly relives their initial thrill at creating something new.

      • TCinTheKnow

        Your house isn’t odd, and neither is ours. The kids are all right and doing just fine. I learned as much from my kids as I’ve taught to my kids. The Utopia builders here that expect our boys to be girls and girls to be boys need to raise some typical kids and pay attention. Like you, I love to watch what the come up with on their own. The kids would be safer if Lori would just let the kids pick which toys they want and stick to building their Utopia with Legos instead of children’s lives.

        • Ivan Cunningham

          dunno if you’re honestly missing the point or just trolling this thread. the author’s point WAS to let kids pick what toys they want to play with, but that marketing and society seems to be increasingly trying to further segregate children by saying “this is what little girls should be playing with and this is what little boys should be playing with- you don’t want the other kids to think you’re WEIRD, do you?”

          now that i’m thinking about it, it seems to me to be a bit of a panicked backlash against the promotion of nonbinary gender awareness, non hetero-normative conformity, and gender-neutral play. or it could just be about the almighty $$. or both…

          • Catz

            Here’s the thing, that I believe you missed from TC. I see nothing wrong with making boy’s and girls themed toys, as long as there are also neutral based versions. In TC’s house, the kids may of started with a girls set, or a boys set, but it became a giant melee. There have always been boys toys and girls toys, but boys and girls have also had lots of fun interacting and mixing things up. Let the kids choose which set they want, andjust like not forcing them to buy a gender specific, I feel you shoudn’t force them to alway pick a gender neutral item.

          • Nathanael

            Lego has always been the gender neutral item. Why should it be segregated?

            Back in the day, we had “city” sets and “space” sets and “castle” sets. We didn’t have “boy” sets and “girl” sets, because what the hell, why would we?

    • TCinTheKnow

      You are mapping your adult political activism on your childhood experiences. Ok, you have issues that matter deeply to you as an adult. But you did not have the same mature adult brain as a child. Your anecdotal evidence that retrospective in nature needs put in context. I have a 9 year old girl (very pink and sparkly) and a 7 year old boy (all aliens and trucks) that love to play together – Lego’s especially. She isn’t interested in Aliens, but he is. He isn’t interested in Veterinarians and puppies, but she is. But they play together and have fun. I don’t doubt that the artistry of the Friends sets make it impossible for the Friends mini-figures to fit into some of the ‘standard’ vehicles. But that is such a rare situation that my kids were completely unaware of it.

    • CD

      I understand what you are saying. I have a daughter and a son. My daughter loves the Friends line and will create things other than what is in the instructions but she also plays with my son’s Legos too. He will play with her’s as well. I think the problem is we make such a big deal about it that it causes our kids to think that what they are doing is wrong. If it’s offered to them to use both then let them. If they only prefer one kind that’s fine too. Why not have colors that are different for our children to use. I met a man who was buying a Friends set just so he could get the pink and green Legos out to put in one of his own creations.

    • prokoudine

      Lori, it’s a great story and a powerful message, but when all is said and done, your story hero turns out to be a pseudoscience doctor. That is rather frustrating. Yes, it’s important that Rachel pursued her goals in life, but her choice of career doesn’t exactly make her a role model. And that bugs me to no end.

    • D. Schulz

      YES YES YES! No sense spending all this effort on only changing the way girls play, its only half the population! Now that I am a parent it is so much more visible to me the thousands of ways these messages are enforced. I just hope I am giving enough of my own message to her that it counteracts…

    • Laurel

      I have a son and two daughters, ages 15 -10. Legos are the only toys any of them ask for, we are swimming in them, traditional Legos and the friends sets. All pieces are equal opportunity used as the current lego build may necessitate, regardless of color or style. The right piece is the right piece. My son has built countless sniper nests and forts with pink or purple bricks, he doesn’t care. How about focusing on raising children to not give any regard to judgemental pricks instead of blaming companies for making products people obviously want.

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  • Jane

    In my house we have lots of creativity with Lego. And very little kit building. This blog could be a fun way to get it started if your kids need any encouragement: http://legoquestkids.blogspot.ca/2012/10/final-challenge-quest-52.html

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  • ilisibit

    My eight year old daughter is completely disinterested in the “girl” legos. She can’t create her own design and, to her, they are a waste of time.

    • TCinTheKnow

      What a buch of crap. Any it is a collection of lego pieces that can be creatively assembled in a nearly infinite number of configurations.

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  • Foobar

    I think the one on the right is beautiful as well. Different, but beautiful.

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  • Graciela Tiscareno-Sato

    Take a look at the current Board at LEGO. That’s all you need to know about WHY things are as they are.

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  • WicklessKaren

    Lovely article and well said. As the mother of two boys I am constantly exasperated by all the pink stuff, everywhere. The preschool tablet, the little video camera, EVERYTHING comes in the pink version. Why? The “boy” version is generally blue or some other primary colour so that now it feels as if not only are girls given these special pink toys but that is ALL they are allowed. And my 4 and 6 year old would die rather than play with something pink. In their toy kitchen, they took out all the pink cups in the multicoloured sets and play with the other colours only. What is it telling our boys as well as our girls?

  • Megan

    I absolutely enjoyed this article, and with perfect timing as I just spent the last hour taking photos of toys at Walmart for my girlscout troop (4th graders) to discuss how marketing is different for certain toys and how we could redefine how people view toys as “boy toys” or “girl toys.” Should be a fun time and hopefully help to break some of the stereotypes that the marketing industry has placed on our children. I’ll be sharing this article with them as well to get a different perspective :)

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  • Pont

    To be fair, the article might have mentioned other brands. Particularly from the Mattel Hasbro farm of gender designation. Even something as universally approachable as V-Tech comes in blue and pink shades unfortunately. I taught my 11 year old daughter how to rewire a plug the other day and she was so proud of herself for knowing how to do so. It’s such a shame that there’s little to nothing in the legitimate toy market that says she can have fun learning practical skills as a female. It also seems to me that media bias toward sanitised beauty and the idolatry of vapid perkiness is beginning younger and younger.

  • Jennifer Bowers

    I would like to point out that while I agree that gender segmented toys are frustrating it is also partly the parents teaching that “pink is for girls and blue is for boys” My son has grown up with his favorite coloring being pink and when the pink and purple lego friends came out he surely did want those sets as well as the “boy” legos. As a matter of fact that year for his birthday he got pretty much ALL pink and purple stuff. I was appalled when he came home totally distraught because his daddy told him that pink is for girls. I have raised him to love playing with dolls and dress up just as much as playing with hot wheels and construction stuff.

    • MJNY15

      While I agree with you in some ways, the point about whats happened in marketing isn’t about color. It’s the question of why there are separate versions being made in the first place. Of course a girl can play with blue legos and a boy with pink ones. But the real question is – why are there even 2 separate colors/marketing for the exact same product in the first place? Classic legos were all mainly primary colors, and legos were just legos. Not “for boys” or “for girl” – for CHILDREN. Now we have 2 versions for most every toy out there – a “boy” version and a “girl” version. While admirable, it’s shouldn’t even have to be explained to children that they can play with both versions – they know this instinctively – yet the very fact that there ARE separate versions is telling them otherwise.

    • threenorns

      here’s the interesting thing: it turns out there is a biological basis for the bias of females for pink and males for blue. womens’ vision is slightly colour-shifted toward the red end of the spectrum while mens’ vision is slightly colour-shifted to the blue end of the spectrum.

      reasoning is thus: women were in charge of nurturing and feeding children – they needed better red perception in order to quickly locate fruit (which is often red) and heat (can’t actually *see* it but can sense it more quickly). men were hunters – like canines, blue-shifted vision is better for detecting movement.

      • Jenny T

        I’d love to see your citations for this. The color preferences for children were reversed at one point (after being neutral for sometime). This blue for boys, pink for girls is a relatively recent social construct and I sincerely doubt it has any biological or evolutionary merit. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/when-did-girls-start-wearing-pink-1370097/

      • Jenna

        That’s not true. Some women show a preference for the RED end of the red-green spectrum, that’s all any study has shown. How does that equal preferring pink? If anything that means they should be making girls toys and clothing red. In fact the main color difference between little boys and little girls is that little girls seem to like purple more than little boys. All kids prefer primary colors though.

        Most women’s favorite color is not pink. Most women’s favorite color is BLUE, just like most men’s.

        You want evolution? Blue skies mean good weather and clear blue water means it’s probably good to drink and no, men had no “evolutionary reason” to see those better, both men and women needed good weather to work and clean water to drink.

    • TCinTheKnow

      Please… PLEASE… take a little time and google “David Reimer” with an open mind.
      Any thesis that you are willing to subject your own children to surely must be worth spending the least bit of scrutiny. Things that have been obvious to millennia of humanity have been presented to you as wrong. I get that. But before you subject children to your radical theory, please – for the sake of your children (that will teach you as much as you will them), read about what happened to this child.

      • WHAT

        What does David Reimer have to do with a child liking pink or purple?

  • shaeryn

    The only reason there is a need for “girls” legos is because instead of being universal building sets they are now sets marketed strongly towards boy interests. You can’t just build whatever you want anymore, and girls aren’t interested in most of the new sets. I should know, I have an 8 year old girl. Lego changed, probably because there was more money in the sets. But the fact remains my girl doesn’t like building stuff at all and isn’t interested in any legos. I wish they would bring back the more universal building sets in all different colors.

    • TCinTheKnow

      Legos have had near exponential growth in recent years. That would make your daughter the anomaly, not Lego. Is it beyond your intellect to realize that the pieces of any kit can be used in a universal way? Or, rather, that universal collections of pieces are available in every Lego Store and over the Internet? (The Internet: That thing you used to post your ridiculous and factually inaccurate statement)

  • Hopingforchange

    I think I am going to go grab my daughters lego box and my sons lego and go shake them into one big bin. More pieces for everyone! (This will not bother either of them, they will be happy to share)

    • Kingofturves .

      I like the sound of this social experiment. If it stays mixed and you don’t end up with them seperating or only using certain bicks normally associated with gender, then then the girl/boy pink/blue divide might be unnecessary.

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  • bellenberger

    What right does Lori Day or anyone else have to judge what my kids like or don’t like! It isn’t about “corporate profits”, it is about meeting a need! Lego has been building more specialized sets for many years now, and most of them are geared towards boys. Lori makes the all too common mistake of trying to eliminate gender, which just ends up discriminating against girls by treating their likes and point of view as “abnormal” when compared to the standard of “male”.

    • Kingofturves .

      But why not have the ‘girls’ themed sets intergrated more with ‘boys’ themed sets. Why have segegrated toy lines divided by gender. The town and city themes used to be a lot better at having sets that were more gender neutral.

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  • Jodi Mikesell

    There is one very important aspect the this change in Lego’s image – it’s loss of patent. In order to stay viable it has no other choice than to create a brand that more copyright-able. Hence the snap together look of it- it’s moving away from a creative brand to a packaged one to try to maintain unique qualities that cannot be easily copied.

  • mwehrl

    I have three girls and one boy, who is right in the middle age-wise. Our son has always enjoyed the open creativity of LEGOS–he has never succombed to the subtle pressure to create a build and keep it built forever. My girls are usually found playing alongside him with all the bricks in one big inviting pile. When the new Friends series was released, my husband and I scoffed. But, our girls did end up getting a set. My eleven year old daughter and I discussed how they are a fun addition to their imaginative play because they add more girl mini-figures to their play–a huge drawback to my son’s collection, plus some realistic home life items, e.g. food, dishes etc.

    I guess my main issue is how they are marketed (to one gender or the other) and sold (in one massively pink and purple aisle or one filled with dark “masculine” colors). Fortunately, my kids don’t watch much TV, or spend much time in the toy aisle, so those predesigned routes of marketing and play dissappear once they enter our home.

  • Tommy Armstrong

    Lots of things wrong about this article. First of all Giordano’s analogy of LEGO and a doctor’s kit is pretty much a stretch. LEGO is a system of construction and building and playing and story telling and creating. It is a freeform system that allows infinite variations. All work together to create the most loved toy in the world. But LEGO has always had a problem selling their concept to girls. A look at their sales before the Friends line shows a vast majority of their market were boys. Why, because the themes were oriented towards things that boys like. Say what you want about the Friends theme-one designed to engage girls- it has been very successful. And the best thing about it is that it gets those children that hither to would not have thought about building with LEGO, building with LEGO. It is all about the building experience, the manipulation of real items in three dimensional space and the various ways they can connect together. It is about the infinite variety of options that can be achieved. And the concept of kits is also a key ingredient. For really only with a kit and instructions can a child or adult for that matter see the way the various pieces can fit together. It also teaches them a process and the necessity of seeing that the order of building is also important. It gives them a sense of accomplishment when they finally after a linear sequence of steps arrive at a result. I know many LEGO kit designers and they spend a great deal of time trying to create a good building experience. It has to be complex enough not to be boring and yet not so complex as to push past the patience of the builder. A good LEGO kit has many “ah” moments–”ah, now I see how that fits together to make this section–that is cool”. That is how one learns. Once one finishes the kit, it is not designed to simply be put on a shelf-it is designed to be taken apart and those parts used in other creations. And the lessons learned in building it are not forgotten but incorporated into a MOC as LEGO people call it. A “My Own Creation”. Those lessons about connections and process and integration of various parts are also incorporated into the skill set of the builder. I know literally thousands of LEGO builders and almost all are extremely bright. I have done a non-scientific study over the years and over 90% of software and mechanical and civil engineers all began their journey playing with LEGO. So whatever it takes to get girls into building and playing with them is a plus not only for LEGO but also for society.

  • David Ring

    This was a great article, but the comments have been just as interesting and enlightening. Although I think most people tend to be in agreement on the fact that pink “girl” legos are unnecessary, I would like to weigh in on the free-form vs following instructions debate. It seems to me that the Lego kits with a specific end product in mind have simply taken the place of the model cars, boats, etc. many of us built as kids, with the added benefit of being able to rebuild them or change them around as kids wish. And I do think that it does make Legos more appealing to different kinds of kids. For example, I have a nephew who automatically mixes his sets together, a stepson who builds “by the book” and displays them, and a son who builds as directed, then customizes with pieces from other sets. All three have a lot of fun with their sets, and I don’t see anything wrong with any of their approaches.

    • http://boazandruth.blogspot.com/ My Boaz’s Ruth

      I would say pink Legos are just as necessary as red, blue, yellow, and orange. Different kids like different colors. Even the world we live in is composed of color. ALL of those colors should be reflected in their toys. Even pink.

      • David Ring

        Good point! More variation of color to include pink, lavender, etc. should most certainly be included in Lego sets, but not just in specific sets that are marketed towards girls.

        • http://boazandruth.blogspot.com/ My Boaz’s Ruth

          Non-Friends sets are also starting to use these colors more than they used to.
          Set 70720 Hover Hunter has a lot of purple
          Set 70725 MechDragon does too
          Lego Movie Set 70804 Ice Cream Machine has a lot of pink
          Lego Movie Set 70803 Cloud Cuckoo Palace is a riot of color. Magenta, pink, Light Blue
          Set 71006 Simpsons House uses several of these colors too, including pink for the car

  • BJF

    The woman is now a naturopathic “doctor”. The Lego of her age clearly didn’t help her to think.

    • Kingofturves .

      Looks like she mainly deals with weight loss for people with obesity and weight related diabetes, nutrition and fitness.
      For those health problems, looks like the methods she recommends are acceptable.
      I would have a problem if she thought naturopathy could be used for more serious illnesses.
      But, she thinks that just pill popping isn’t the answer for health issues that require more practical solutions.
      I think lego did help her to think at looking at people’s problems, deconstructing them and giving practical solutions.

      Granted I’m still dismissive of naturopathy, because it is not evidence based and lacks the rigor of proper medicinal sciences.

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  • Tyler AitchKay

    Absolutely nothing is stopping a girl from buying LEGO city sets, or boys buying Friends sets.

    Stop making up issues that don’t exist. LEGO did the market research, and these friends sets are selling because it’s what kids want.

    Deal with it.

  • Hayden

    I have saved all my legos from the 90′s, and my children, whether boys or girls, will inherit them. Same as with my hotwheels and beanie babies.

  • KtownTeach

    There is nothing wrong with pink blocks, either. They are not evil. There are many little girls who love pink. As long as it is a Lego set, it can be taken apart and built however the little owner/builder wants to.

  • Heidi McClure

    Wow, that is such a lost opportunity with the news van. They could have made the van and TV studio separate. They could have had the news van have actual news equipment, and let kids customize it with whatever colors the kid likes (including but not limited to pink or purple). They could have had an actual studio where male and female anchors *both* went to the makeup department, where men and women were *both* makeup artists and camera operators, and where the weather person was an actual meteorologist, rather than a model.

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  • Laura Henze Russell

    Beautiful post, thank you. I have a story idea for you!

  • Schmaaaaaaa

    I can’t hate on the Lego News Van description enough. I work in live TV production, and for many years I had to interview recent college grads for the entry level positions. Guys usually weren’t 100% sure where they wanted to be in 5 years, but almost every single girl I interviewed wanted to be a reporter or anchor. I know people forget that there’s a ton of people behind the cameras, but it seems like whenever we’re portrayed on TV shows or movies it’s a dude holding the camera and a pretty lady in front of it. Women never lug around the camera or turn the knobs or push the buttons (Disclaimer: I’m not sure about the Newsroom as I can’t watch it without wanting to throw things at the TV) and I guess because little girls never see it, those jobs never occur to them as an option when they grow up. Which is a shame, because it’s a lot like getting paid to play video games in front of several thousand people.

  • MoiBelle

    I love this, but there’s one thing that troubles me about the discussion of gender neutrality.

    Whenever we discuss gender neutrality, there seems to be a universal dissing of anything that is perceived as being related to girls. Now, don’t misunderstand me. I come from the generation of the original Lego girl. I grew up wanting to play with Star Wars and He-Man. I don’t want for pink to be always the “girl thing” or for all girls to be expected to be “princesses,” but it also bugs me that we demonize these things in the name of being gender neutral. It almost seems as if we’re saying, “Girls, you need to be more like what we perceive boys to be like. You can like blue and bright red, but do you really think you should like pink? Or princesses?”

    What if little girls really just honestly like pink? And better yet, what if little boys do?

    I wish I had a better way to describe what it is about this that troubles me, but there’s something that’s bothersome about it. I think it’s the other side of the coin when it comes to forcing gender identity on children instead of letting them define it for themselves. Can’t we just throw pink and blue and bright red and magenta all together, for boys and girls, and have none of them be perceived as too girly to be recognized? Why must princesses be demonized if we are not willing to demonize all of the “bad ass” toys marketed to boys? If boys like princesses, will it be okay then? Or is it only bad when girls like them?

    I don’t know. As I said, I wish I had a better way to describe what it is that’s troubling me about this, but it seems like we’re just exacerbating the problem here.

    • Labyrinthia

      This bugs me, too. Lego has basically taken the majority of their sets, and made them hyper masculine, and then marketed them to boys. Boys are also only shown a limited number of role models deemed to be masculine enough. Which in turn leads to anything stereo typically feminine being seen as weak. And also shuts girls out of those sets. I believe, honestly, it hurts boys as much as girls.

    • ferrferr

      “Can’t we just throw pink and blue and bright red and magenta all together, for boys and girls, and have none of them be perceived as too girly to be recognized? ”

      This.

      There’s no pink or purple in the “universal” block sets, and I can assure my my daughters notice. My oldest’s favorite color is pink, and my youngest is the epitome of a princess loving girly-girl. Yeah, we have Spongebob Lego sets, and my eldest wants Star Wars sets (holy crap are those ever expensive), but Ninjago and Minecraft are not interesting to them.

      The color in no way inhibits creativity. My youngest made quite the cute Lego bed for her Tinkerbell Pez dispenser the other night. The pillow was a pink block, and the bed was the flat green “grass” piece. Barbie chairs are also in high demand, and the pets from the Friends sets are on good terms with all the My Little Pony and Littlest Pet Shop toys as well. :P

      • Nathanael

        As a boy, I always objected to the lack of pink and purple in Lego sets. They shoudl be available.

    • Guest

      Very good point. I get the feeling Feminists want to criticize, vilify, demonize, anything that is inherently “Feminine” aimed at, created, marketed for girls that actually like “girlie” things. Pink clothes, dolls, cooking sets, princess, nurse or mommy play sets, etc. as if the truly enlightened, intelligent, thoughtful girl/ woman should reject any of these “traditional” “girlie” interests, roles, desires. Parents should allow their children to choose what they inherently like. I know many feminist parents that actually push gender neutrality onto their child thinking that is the intellectually superior way to raise their children. Rather than allowing them to choose for themselves. I’m sick of the whole subject of gender neutrality already. Allow children freedom, boys & girls, to be whatever makes them happy, even if it is in traditional gender stereotypes. Feminists need to sit down & be quiet already on the subject. The Lego article is just feminist hype in my opinion. Don’t like my opinion- that’s your choice.

      • Jenna

        There is nothing particularly traditional about pink being a girl’s color. Nothing at all. That is purely something created. In Victorian England little boys used to be dressed in pink often, among those who could afford such things.

        I feel safe in saying that pink would probably not be nearly as “popular” among girls if not for marketing brainwashing – for years now, including of the adults around them who start putting it on them well before they can choose anything for themselves. Some would like pink sure, and so would some boys but pink wouldn’t be equated so heavily with gender, nor should it be.

        Most people don’t even like pink. They’ve done polls about people’s favorite colors, only around 2 percent chose it, While something ilke 40+ percent choose blue. Blue is a favorite color among women as well as among men.(so luckily the attempt hasn’t succeeded yet in putting pink glasses over most women’s eyes).

        So it seems quite unlikely if left to their own devices, with no marketing brainwashing, that women themselves would have chosen “pink” as “their color” or as the color for their little girls. Frankly girls would probably be playing with blue toys too.

        In fact see this article from 1918, still gender biased but in exactly the opposite direction. :)

        “For example, the June 1918 issue of the Infant’s Department, a trade magazine for baby clothes manufacturers, said: “There has been a great diversity of opinion on this subject, but the generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl. The reason is that pink being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy; while blue, which is more delicate and dainty is prettier for the girl.”

        The whole “pink for girls/blue for boys” didn’t really start to become heavily established until the 1950′s(somehow not surprising) and it didn’t really become an almost forced association until the 1980′s. I was little girl in the 70′s, I had very little that was pink and, maybe the occasional item of clothing and it wasn’t because my parents were some sort of social activists. :)

        And don’t forget little boys as well as little girls were dressed in DRESSES, particularly white dresses(because there was no color to fade when they were boiled for cleaning) until the early 20th century.

        In fact there was probably less gender differentiation for the youngest children up until the 20th century. Little boys and little girls were dressed the same and often had similar long hair styles and even wore bows.

        • Nathanael

          Right through the 1920s pink was considered “masculine” and blue was considered “feminine” and “girly”.

  • Kat Kraynick

    Lovely article!! I am all for the non-gendering of toys… but growing up I loved Lego’s and had two brothers and always played with them and their sets. I remember very clearly telling my mom I wanted my OWN Lego set, and I wanted it to be for girl’s. Lego certainly didn’t have a separate line for girls back then but my mom searched and found me a cool mansion with a girl and her butler. I was so happy and I loved having Lego’s that were my own. Maybe this was because I was already genderized that I didn’t connect to my brother’s toys… but I don’t think Lego offering sets that are in pastels or focus on things other than Star Wars/Space Ships/Lord of the Rings etc. Is necessarily a bad thing. I think being aware of who you are intentionally marketing them to is the bad thing. And yeah, that van seems so pigeonholed! What is the point of giving a back story to a toy??

  • ctiberius

    My daughter loves the Friends line because it is pink and girlie. When you succeed in homogenizing everything, what toys will there be that appeal to her? Have you considered that not every little girl wants to be gender neutralized?

  • Pastor Dingle

    So sad to learn that such a sweet-looking little girl grew up to be just another con-artist “practicing” quack medicine. People like her should be arrested for criminal fraud.
    http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/Naturopathy/naturopathy.html

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  • Dawn

    Maybe the solution is to get rid of the “boys” and “girls” aisles in the stores? Sort the toys by function rather than gender. If we stop segregating toys by the color of the packaging, maybe manufactures will stop catering to a demand that doesn’t exist?

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  • TCinTheKnow

    Tell me Lori, is this the first Boy centric verses Girl centric toy you have heard of in the last three thousand years? How about the last three days?

    Why do you want to oppress the right of little girls to play with toys that appeal to them? What is your agenda that is so important to you that you would deny this right to the chidren of the world? I for one am saddened that they didn’t offer this choice, this freedom, this right to young female children years earlier.

    Lego created more options than before. Not one single person on the planet, under any government regime is required to buy any of them. The definition of this expanded choice without duress of consequences is “FREEDOM”. If you aren’t a fan of freedom and don’t want people to chose such items – try relocating to North Korea. That will give you great piece of mind. There are no Lego Friends to be upset about in that domain.

    • Perhaps

      Perhaps she is trying to combat parents who only stick in gender-normative toys. I recently heard a discussion in where a mother bought her son a Easy Bake Oven because that is what he asked for and the father was very visibly upset and said that if he turned out homosexual, it would be all the mother’s fault for buying that toy. Perhaps Lori is thinking that it would be easier to change the advertising to just be toys instead of *insert gender* toys than it would be to change shallow-minded parents ideas. Then, perhaps the shallow-minded parent wouldn’t be inclined to worry about the toy because the toy wouldn’t have come out of a certain color aisle.

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  • http://www.rebeccarachmany.com/ Rebecca Rachmany

    Bringing awareness to this issue is a great first step. Today, it’s easier for small startups like GodlieBlox to break through… but there’s still an assumption that there are toys for boys and toys for girls, shows for boys and shows for girls, etc. Even T-Shirts are no longer gender-neutral. We recently released a pilot of Purple and Nine, a cartoon that encourages “girls” to get interested in technology, and the most common feedback we got was that boys like it too. We got the message loud and clear. Just because we have girl protagonists doesn’t mean our show appeals only to half the population. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hz747Z50cg0

  • KitGreen

    No pre made sets in this TV spot (and no CGI as it is too old for that…)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jldMmp7cpw

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  • Nell

    Lovely article. Shame about the effort to make Giordano sound like a real doctor instead of the snake oil seller she is. No amount of dressing “naturopathic medicine” as a legit practice will stop it being woo. It’s a real shame, because that attempt to sell Giordano as more than she is seriously undermines the rest of this very important message.

    • Ivan Cunningham

      Shame about the fact that you felt the need to go out of your way to post a comment which has nothing to do with the point of the essay just because you wanted to put someone down.

  • Elaine

    If you go to a LEGO store, you have more choice now. Random buckets of ‘create your own way’ LEGO (which do contain an ideas book for those of us who like instructions), and boxes of LEGO sets which can make a certain thing (or be thrown n a bucket with the rest). The random buckets aren’t marketed as ‘boy’ LEGO, that’s just been suggested for this advert, there is no boy and girl section.

    The boxes just now offer a choice, sme of us girls LIKE pink! And pastel colours. And girly stuff. And we like that we can choose which we want now.

    The only difference s that now LEGO has a wider range of choice to suit everyone…more colours, create your own or build a set, you can buy just packs of wheels, just people…it’s called progress….free choice. There’s no big sign saying ‘girl’ or ‘boy’, and in the sales you see as many girls in the buckets section as ever, and some boys in the pastel section. The kids only see it as an issue when you start telling them that THIS stuff is for girls and THIS stuff is for boys. LEGO isn’t doing that…the Media and parents do.

    And luckily, it’s their CHOICE to do that too.

  • Andorose

    I have bought both types of lego for my girls. They chose the “Friends” pack specifically marketed at girls (personally I found them insulting and very gender stereotypical) because they liked the look of the packing! I purchased the “Creative” pack. My girls have played with both but have found much more enjoyment with the flexibility of the “Creative” pack as it can be made into anything they chose not just they way the instruction booklet guides. Although much satisfaction is derived from following instructions…. and having it turn out looking like the picture, I think this is just as important as free building using their imagination. I love the original advert, I find alot of current advertising for childrens toys fails in the same way, with focus on gender, stereotyping and not inspiring for young minds at all.

  • http://lego-minifigures.tumblr.com/ Figura

    This highlighted phrase is what I disagree with most and also the main problem. Kids do seem to have changed.

    LEGO made gender neutral sets, which didn’t work out for to long. Market research showed girls are not interested, therefore the company adapted to the situation by targeting them differently – and that was more than 20 years ago. So the problem more likely is running a little deeper than simply the toy offers and, frankly, this is an odd point to start pushing for a change.

    LEGO still consists of interchangeable pieces, so the swap of gender-roles is more than easy to accomplish. So parents fail to communicate that idea, in my opinion.

    Also, in 1981 Rachel Giordano was given a set and made something completely different out of it, so why did she stick to the instructions in 2014? Because apparently parents also fail in developing their children’s creativity nowadays.

    But that is just my opinion, as I said.

    PS: The term LEGOs does not exist. LEGO should be treated like an adjective, so it’s LEGO sets, LEGO bricks etc.

    • Ivan Cunningham

      uh, no- “she was given a set of original LEGOs and an hour to play with them and make her own creation.” a “set of original LEGOs” is just a bunch of legos, no instructions included.

      • http://lego-minifigures.tumblr.com/ Figura

        Despite what one interprets a “set of original LEGO” means, the point still stands: you can stick to the instructions, you don’t have to. None of the instructions I owned as a kid survived (while the bricks did) simply because I didn’t need them. … Although, I don’t recall throwing them away… what happened… MOOOOOM!?

        • Ivan Cunningham

          they sell kits that just have the blocks in various shapes and colors (no specific thing that you’re supposed to build, though they may have had instructions for different possibilities). i had at least one while i was growing up. i also had several kits that were sold AS kits to build castles or space stations or whatever.

          getting back to the point, your original comment included, “Also, in 1981 Rachel Giordano was given a set and made something completely different out of it, so why did she stick to the instructions in 2014?” my point was that she wasn’t given a kit with instructions to make something specific in 1981 (so saying she “made something completely different out of it” has no meaning), whereas she WAS in 2014, so claiming “Because apparently parents also fail in developing their children’s creativity nowadays” is a little disingenuous, to say the least.

          • http://boazandruth.blogspot.com/ My Boaz’s Ruth

            But even in 1981, they SOLD kits to make things with instructions (My first Lego were kits with instructions — First Set 190 Farm produced in 1975 http://brickset.com/sets/190-1/Farm-Set, Then the Set 269 Kitchen and Set 261 Bathroom sets produced in 1979.) And in 2014, they still sell kits that are “blocks in various shapes and colors, no specific thing you’re supposed to build” — http://shop.lego.com/en-US/LEGO-Creative-Bucket-10662 Set 10662 Lego Creative Bucket. But someone chose to give her one kind of kit in 1981 and the other kind of kit in 2014 and then portray, today, that those are the ONLY options in each time period.

            Even the famous yellow castle so many look back to fondly. Set 375, was produced in 1978

          • http://lego-minifigures.tumblr.com/ Figura

            The kit she was given is clearly the one seen in the ad, #112, which–if it didn’t contain instructions–still gives suggestions what to build from it, but instead of building the house or the boat, she choose to CREATE something that makes most sense in her imagination, that nobody has ever seen before and that she didn’t pick up from anywhere. You can create something different from the news van as well, for example a news van with no make-up table or a spaceship. And this is where you can easily encourage kids to go crazy and let their mind come up with what ever. Yet, in this whole discussion, everybody keeps insisting that LEGO is the bad component in this equation for including instructions and that’s just wrong.

      • Elaine

        Those mixed sets are still available! She build what she built this time because she was given a kit! That’s like giving someone in 1981 a loaf of bread, butter, ham, marmite, and cheese, and watching them make a cheese sandwich…then giving them a potato, some butter, and beans, and watching them make a jacket potato…then complaining that these days everything has changed. Give her a creative bucket of LEGO…they come with an ideas booklet, but you can just build whatever you like. Some of the buckets contain some pink bricks, others don’t…you can choose which you buy. But ‘LEGO now offers more freedom of choice’ doesn’t make such a great headline I guess.

        • Ivan Cunningham

          pretty sure LEGO offers the same freedom of choice (read other comments about previous lines marketed at girls). i also never said that the mixed sets weren’t still available, so i’m gonna go ahead and assume you hit “reply” on the wrong comment…

          • Elaine

            Sorry, was agreeing with you by saying that those ‘original’ sets as you’re calling them, are still available, but kept on talking.

  • christine

    This is frustrating for me too but in the sense that my son can’t/won’t play with something cute and pretty because “it’s for girls” even though I know he really wants to. If they just threw all that junk together he could play with whatever he wanted to.

  • Susan Miller Schnock

    Great article, so very true! My daughter (14yrs) did not have special Legos. She and her older brother shared. We do have some pink blocks mixed in that we got from the Lego store, as well as a girl figure. We did not even buy the special building sets for him until he was 12yrs old. (Star Wars and the city ones). They were built once and put on shelves. The original Legos made 1000s of creations and torn apart. Our playmobils were more gender based but they would mix the sets together so it evened out I guess.

  • Will

    Does no one but me think its weird how much Feminists are obsessing over the color of the overpriced plastic toys theyre buying for their spoiled white female children, while completely ignoring the fact that that color was most likely applied to that plastic by female childslaves working in inhuman conditions in a Chinese sweatshop?

    The CIA sure has done a good job of making sure Feminism focuses exclusively on upper class white women and their First World Problems while completely ignoring the plight of actual oppressed female populations all over the world. Wouldnt want anybody getting any funny ideas about Western Capitalism maybe not being in any way compatible with equality! Nope, gotta focus on toys, magazine ads, and how privileged white female millionaire CEOs make slightly fewer millions of dollars than male millionaire CEOs (while ignoring that black women in America have an average total wealth of only FIVE DOLLARS)

  • Ann Mullen

    20 years ago when I was a store manager for McDonalds I made it a pretty big deal to NEVER ask a guest ordering a Happy Meal “WOuld you like a girl toy or boy toy?” Today this is standard operating procedure and also makes my skin crawl EVERY time I overhear it! WHY?

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  • lorcadamon

    What about the girls AND the boys who want the pink Legos, though? My daughter loves dolls and her stuffed animals, and loves building them houses out of pink Legos. There’s nothing wrong with offering both!

  • lorcadamon

    Lego was meant to be whatever you wanted it to be. Some kids love to look at a mess of bricks in the floor and go nuts. Others WANT THOSE INSTRUCTIONS. There are children whose minds want the very structured, step-by-step kit. There’s NOTHING wrong with that. Just make Legos available in block form, in kit form, in pink, whatever. It’s the adults who get up in arms and start petitions and crap. Let the kids tell you who they are. (PS This is why I LOVE the Lego store…the kits are in boxes lining the walls, and the open bins of “grab your own blocks” are along a massive, lit up wall at the back. You can even grab bag it, getting exactly the bricks/colors you need!)

  • Maria H

    It’s Lego, not LEGOs! For the love of God, if you call yourself a writer, please get the name of the toy right.

  • tim

    I love how someone sporting a “girl empowerment club” can legitimately think they actually support gender equality- complaining about lego having gender specific marketing while flogging off her own GIRLS ONLY product/services… you just went full retard. never go full retard…

  • Daniel

    girls and boys aren’t different? what biology class did YOU attend? PC run amok…

  • Johnfam6

    You can also be a vet, build your own tree house, own your own home, have a beach house, own a riding school, or ride a jet ski. Let’s make sure we find the worst way to portray these new pink legos, and make our girls feel awful for liking them…Great job! Whatever! Sexism is what you make. You decided it was all about the makeup, not the career. I decided to tell my three girls that it is about the joy when they play together and have fun. Get over them being pink/purple (my girls favorite colors, BTW). You are being ridiculous!

    • Johnfam6

      And, I forgot to mention that my son plays with them and they have redesigned great houses and villages with all the lego pieces. So, we have kinda blown your theory of gender roles, lack of creativity, etc out of the water.

      • Mark Choi

        In what way? Besides the obvious fact that you are trying to form a proof from a sample size of one, you completely ignore all the future ramifications of gender-segmented play. Beyond that, you have no idea how such play will affect your children in the future in terms of their own self-perceptions, and what they feel about themselves and their capabilities, because none of that has happened yet.
        Sexism is FAR more than what you make of it, especially if you are a child.

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  • Bluebeard.

    I actually think a lot of the sets are pretty gender neutral. Sure, some are clearly less so, but give the kids a week or two and you’re going to have a big box of random blocks. Both my son and daughter spend hours together building things and having fun. Is the introduction of a totally “girl” line really that much of a threat?

  • Poliana Hauptmann

    Who said that kids build the sets according to the instructions and then that’s it?? They build the set 1-2 times according to the instructions, because it is fun to see if you can do it, but then (and ask ANY KID if you don’t believe me) they pull it all apart and make their own things. The only difference between the new sets and the plain bricks, is that the new sets have pieces of any imaginable size, allowing the child’s fantasy to go even further.

    And as for the pink sets, what about kids who like cute things? Lego never had cute sets before, so what is the problem that they do now? I know little boys who love cute things, and they love Lego Friends. And I know girls who prefer the alien sets. I think people nowadays have phobia of anything that has even the hint of gender, because they think that kids will feel pressure to stick to stereotypes. Guess what? Kids are no like that. They play with anything and everything, so having a bigger variety (yes, even cute sets) is best for everyone

    • Ivan Cunningham

      they might play with anything and everything… until they go to school and start getting teased by the other kids for being girly or a tomboy. doesn’t happen everywhere these days, or as regularly as it did in the past, but it still happens.

  • Cherice Bock

    I have this same concern, and I worry about this not only from the perspective of girls, but also boys. I have two sons, so while I used to think mainly about genderizing toys, etc. in terms of how it marginalized girls, I also think of what it does to my boys now. Most “boys” Lego sets come with weapons of some kind. There are exceptions, and I feel like we already own most of them! Even then, though, the characters are doing “manly” things like fighting fires. (We got a tow truck recently where the figure included is a woman with a briefcase riding in the car that’s to be towed. I guess since she has a briefcase it’s supposed to make this better.)

    At any rate, my point is, why wouldn’t boys be the journalist in the Lego news van, above? Why wouldn’t boys be the ones interested in a Lego house set or any number of ones marketed to girls that are shops and things to do in a town? We socialize boys to be the heroes, and that that means using weapons and saving us from “bad guys,” but we don’t (at least our country’s marketing doesn’t) encourage them to deal with real life situations and jobs. Also, my boys LOVE the color pink. My oldest son, who’s 7, hesitates when he gets to choose the color of things now, because he knows pink is a “girl color.” We, as a culture, are already making him choose his level of “masculinity,” his level of conformity.

    As others have said in this string, Legos should be about creativity. I love following the instructions and putting together the set with my boys, and I really love it when it gets dismantled and made into something new. Hopefully this could be a metaphor for the ways we try to force different genders into two already-assembled molds: we can feel free to follow the instructions, or rearrange the pieces to express our unique selves in order to play in this amazing world more creatively.

  • dragster147

    Most everyone who is posting is missing the bigger picture. Why? Because many have lost their ability to use their imagination. It’s the adults who need to get over the gender bias they see in everything.

    The truly imaginative person, regardless of age, doesn’t see a prepackaged boyish police scene with souped up cars or a dainty pastel colored van with only a beauty mirror in it. What they see is is the start of a high rise building with transparent red or blue windows or a giant pink and purple robot that transforms into a mega tank with built in ray gun.

    It really doesn’t matter how Lego markets their toys. The ones who understand and love the sets are the ones who go beyond the prepackaged marketing and see endless possibilities no matter what the colors are.

    As someone who has collected Lego since 1978, I see who buys what in regards to Lego. I can honestly say that I see both genders of all ages buying ALL the sets. I have sen boys and grown men buy the friends themed sets not because they are girly, but because to them, the colors are “awesome” and will go with the rest of their collection into a personally created item that they are proud of. It is not the color that defines the gender roles, but the people who view them. Is it girly when a Lego builder creates a high rise building with graffiti on the side that was created in pastel and pink colors to make the whole model stand out more? Is black and grey only masculine? Catwoman wore black and she was very feminine from my perspective.

    Just remember that Lego is only putting out a toy. The gender bias is with the other people who are looking at the kit without using any imagination. It’s like looking at a palette of colors. the colors are only colors and they can be promoted as specific colors for different genders, but how YOU as the artist applies those colors defines ONLY YOU and your ideas. I you create a pink sky instead of a blue one, does that define a gender bias? No, you just painted a sky that affected by the position of the sun and how much cloudiness was in the sky turning the hue from blues to pinks.

    My challenge to anyone is to go out and buy yourself some of the kits from several themes. get a couple “boy” sets and a couple “girl” sets. Open them up and pile ALL bricks together in one mass. Then try to use your imagination to create whatever you want with any of the pieces. The result will be something that defines “YOUR” gender biases or lack there of.

    And if you are worried about the figures, then I suggest you pop off the heads of any figure and transplant it onto any other body of a figure. That male cop with the beard and sunglasses has just become a female cop that can kick butt just as much as any male. That male fire chief? Just became a female chief who has saved more lives than any other fireman. That dainty mermaid you think is the wrongful image for gender roles can become a killer mer-ninja with starfish that it can throw to kill it’s opponent.

    If you just use your imagination, you can take some perceived gender bias, mix it with whatever you like and all the bias is completely removed.

  • Peter Mackay

    That 2012 home-made ad isn’t Lego. It’s some cheap knock-off.

    There’s nothing stopping children or parents from buying regular Lego – rather than the pinkified “for girls” kits.

    • dragster147

      I thought it was sad that the 2012 girl was FORCED to look gender neutral because she has a psychotic mom that is ruining the child’s life. Child might grow up to be a drug addicted bisexual nutcase because mom was so afraid of gender bias that she went off the deep end and erased ALL gender identity. Or the child will grow up looking so ugly that she’ll die alone with a bunch of cats.

      • LivinginVA

        What makes you think she was forced? One of my daughters has always preferred short hair (“I want a boy hair cut”) and jeans.

        • dragster147

          What makes you think she wasn’t? The WHOLE picture, the almost sad like eyes, half way, almost pained grin, and the look of “Oh god, my mommy made me wear this to take a picture for” look that I see the poor child exude all over.

          The body language I see says the child is very uncomfortable. the child is even holding the Lego bricks one handed which I never see unless the child is forced to hold something they don’t want to. Not at all like the 1981 photo. That child looks happy and proud and is holding HER creation with both hands showing ownership of what she’s holding.

          My daughter is a tomboy and has no interest in anything girly or pink but she still has at least SOMETHING that tells the world that she is a girl and has not had her gender identity totally erased. I tell my daughter to be herself which is her wearing jeans, t-shirts, nerdy glasses, and ,oh yeah, long hair because even though she’s a tomboy, she’s still proud to be a girl.

          Even the woman’s picture from 1981 has ponytails which I find a healthy norm for a girl to be and still have a more tomboyish attitude. The 2012 girl looks like someone worked very hard to erase her gender identity. Made her feel ashamed that she was a girl and not a boy which I find very sad. And I know there are many parents out there that DO make their daughters feel ashamed to be a girl.

          • LivinginVA

            We are apparently not seeing the same picture. I see a girl who is not an effusive grinner (my older one is like that – every picture that’s not a candid looks like a fake smile). As far as holding the creation – I’ve seen plenty of kids hold things they like with one hand – especially once they are older than 5 or 6.

            My middle child is proud to be a girl, but even at 15 is sometimes mistaken for a boy because of her haircut & clothing choices (and it annoys the crap out of her).

      • APS

        Your comment doesn’t really deserve a reply, but you may want to click over to Princess Free Zone and learn more about the awesome little girl in the 2012 pic before jumping to judgement.

    • Elaine

      Yes it is. http://shop.lego.com/en-GB/Heartlake-News-Van-41056?fromListing=listing
      But I agree, it’s a set rather than a creator bucket…so what do they expect?!

      • http://boazandruth.blogspot.com/ My Boaz’s Ruth

        The 2014 AD had the news van in it. The 2012 ad is the one Peter McKay was referring to.

        • Elaine

          Oh I see. Still LEGO though. Duplo.

        • Elaine

          Ah..I see. That’s still LEGO though. It’s Duplo.

  • Jason

    So let’s ignore the sets focusing on girls that build robots, go camping and grilling, play soccer, practice karate, play in a treehouse, work on the farm, play the drums, fly planes, drive a beach buggy, play the electric guitar, or go to school and take science classes. All of these sets exist in the line.

    And so what if it’s pink? As a single dad, I’m learning there is no avoiding my daughter’s love of the color pink, despite my efforts to avoid it. She developed a preference for the color on her own.

  • Indigo Felle

    Okay, so, to begin: I don’t like the marketing behind these Lego sets any more than most people.

    I do LOVE the sets, though. My daughter had zero interest in Legos (though they are popular in our house in general), until she discovered these girly Legos, and now she plays regularly with Legos. Really PLAYS. Imaginative play, creative building. For us, these sets have been anything BUT anti-creative.

    I think this article misses an important element in the chain: the store market, but we, the parents, PARENT. My daughter hasn’t the faintest idea that that set should stay together once it’s finished. We build it, she plays with it for anywhere from 10 minutes to a few days, until it breaks. She finishes breaking it up, the Legos go into the general Lego box where they are mixed into whole new story lines and creations that have yet to be thought of.

    (Incidentally, this has the added benefit of reinforcing the idea of emphasizing the process — we learn new skills trying to build according to the instructions — over the product — which is soon forgotten.)

    I think we sometimes feel victim to the marketing, but we don’t have to be; and I do not think these Friends sets are any worse than the Star Wars sets, and all the other sets. Maybe our family is somehow an anomaly (and I’m not suggesting for a second that we are superior parents, ’cause that would just be silly, rude, and untrue), but I don’t see why these sets stifle creativity at all.

  • http://pumpkinsperspectives.blogspot.com/ Marie Letitia Gers Arminger

    My son has an extensive Lego collection. When I say extensive, I mean literally thousands of Legos. He loves them. He puts the sets together by the instruction sheet, and puts them on a shelf for a while, but then, just as quickly as they were put together, they disappear from the shelf. He has recreated them into something new. His sisters also love to play with his Legos. They have been given their own sets (sometimes in pink), but somehow all the Legos end up in the same bins in my son’s room, and all the kids play together with them creating new and wonderful things.

    I think, as adults, we need to inspire kids to be whoever they want. If one of my girls becomes a doctor then that is what they will be, if my son wants to become a nurse, so be it. Gender is what we make of it, but we need to also inspire the kids to be their complete self.

    With Lego there are sets, we can construct them according to the “plans”, but those plans don’t alway hold up. Sometimes the van will fall off the shelf and needs to be reconstructed. That’s the time to really inspire, that when the image of what things are like comes apart, we have the ability to recreate however we want.

    Let the fire truck have pink lights today and tomorrow will be a wonderful surprise!

  • Lego isn’t the evil here

    This should not be all about what Lego did wrong. Consumers WANTED this, saying there is a gap in the “building set” market for girls. This is what parents said was missing for their little girls. And Lego made it. Should they have? No…they should have revamped the 1981 “universal building set” for CHILDREN ad and said they’re for everyone, not just boys and if your girls aren’t playing with them, that’s your fault.

    Other “girl power” companies are trying to combat the Lego Friends stigma but they’re doing it with the same gender stereotyping that created the Friends. Why do girls need their own building sets? Why can’t building sets be for CHILDREN like they were in 1981? Parents need to look at how they’re talking and interacting with their children and stop pushing “gender appropriate” toys. If men allowed their sons to play with dolls and moms let their daughters have fighter planes, would the world end? I think not.

  • http://thepete.com thepete

    The thing is, I’ve been avoiding girls toy aisles my entire life and I am 42. Gender-based marketing is nothing new. It’s just that Lego is run like a modern business and the children who have been buying Lego (both boys and girls) are no longer enough for the Lego company, it seems. So, they are doing what any practical company does and they are going after the kids they aren’t already selling to. I know that the cake news van toy is disgusting to those of us that believe kids should play like kids, not like boys or girls. But what about those girls (or boys) who like pink toys or toys that don’t involve ADVENTURE and other activities traditionally associated with men?

    My point is that I think it’s up to parents to encourage their kids to go for the toys that interest them and not care whether they’re wandering down the girls toy aisle or the boys toy aisle. And, in case you’ve forgotten, parents tend to buy Lego for their kids on account of it being so crazy expensive. So, find out what your child wants and then give them that and don’t acted so shocked when a corporation acts like a corporation. And give Lego a break already–it’s still a great toy. So, really nothing has changed since the “grand old days” of 1981. Probably not even our urge to get offended at things before really thinking them through.

  • Sastrei

    You guys know LEGO always came in sets, right? ( http://brickset.com/sets/year-1981/theme-Space ) Go watch The LEGO Movie and realize that LEGO themselves (because yes they were heavily involved in the movie process and all usages of their brand) wants you to build the set, if you want to, and then rip the whole thing down into it’s component pieces and build whatever you want! The LEGO Movie’s entire plot hinges on >>>Thinking For Yourself<<< !!!

  • http://pathfinder-devilin.blogspot.com/ Suneokun

    I wrote to LEGO about Friends when it was first released and the response I received was excellent. I was personally horrified by LEGO friends, because it broke with the minifig (1978 – great year btw) and introduced these more streamlined ‘girlie’ package. I was informed that there is no extra pink in LEGO friends, that the only new colours invented were muted tonals developed through dedicated customer research… in fact the friends theme’s, the shape of them etc etc was all generated by SERIOUS customer research. As much as feminists want children’s toys to be gender neutral, children don’t. I would love my daughter to play with normal LEGO, we have loads – but she wants to collect and build the girls LEGO. I think it’s cheap for feminists to attack LEGO, they are adjusting their lines with cool female LEGO mini-figs, and introducing more and more unusual girls lines, but LEGO would have gone out of business if they hadn’t tailored their products to boys. Castles and Space in the 80′s sold when generic LEGO city was in decline. Since LEGO generated massive growth and broke through the girl market many imposters have copied, but Barbie LEGO is crap. More like a segmented dolls house. LEGO are working to balance it, but importantly, most importantly, all LEGO friends is REAL LEGO. There are no ‘special pieces’, if you think the stuff on the right is easier than the stuff on the left, then you don’t know what you’re talking about. I grew up with the stuff on the left and it was really basic, good at buildings and not much else. The things you can build with the latest LEGO beggars belief. LEGO nearly went out of business about six years back, they don’t do lots of pieces, they do brilliant engineering. The same effort in engineering, complexity and quality is there. There is nothing second rate about Friends … with figures defined by girls, not feminists.

  • Lee Thesuperflea

    I agree the LEGO sets should be more gender neutral to some point. Personally i love the friends sets, but not the minidolls. the new colors have added so much to my mocs. But I have to disagree with you. If you did some work, you would find out that TLG has done an extensive three year research for this product line and what girks wanted. And the friends line is what became of that research. There also has been pink in lego waaay before friends..and noneone questioned TLG or called out sexism.

  • Sarah Courtney-Leard

    the article has missed one of the big differences that I think is absolutely terrible. The first picture the girl had built out of bricks.. the second picture is a vehicle made ith ‘ready made pieces’. Those pieces reduce the childs ability to be creative. Those sets are designed to make 1 thing only…

    • http://boazandruth.blogspot.com/ My Boaz’s Ruth

      Actually, people have created quite nice MOC (My own Creations) using Lego pieces that are not 2x or 1x bricks. The specialty pieces allow for more creativity. You can’t create a car without wheels, for example. And our world contains even more texture than that.

      Here are some amazing buildings created using blocks that are more varied than just the basic bricks. http://www.eurobricks.com/forum/index.php?s=786a7fcc407fdbdf02500de985a5d92e&showtopic=91347

  • Guest

    This article is liberal, feminist hype! Liberals & Feminists & others whose aim is to shame & bully society into subscribing to their disturbed angry philosophy need to quit. Many, many girls like pink & dolls & princesses. Lego made toys These girls wanted. They give choices to girls & boys which is a good thing. It’s not some evil agenda by Lego to keep girls subservient to boys, separate brothers & sisters from playing together or to brain wash girls into becoming Stepford Wives when they grow up. Lori needs to get over herself & her childhood issues. Kids should be allowed to choose for themselves. Even if that means they choose “traditional” gender roles. It’s their choice. Imposing gender neutrality isn’t really giving kids the choice to decide for themselves is it… Why do feminists feel like girls who want to be “girlie” or boys who are naturally “rough & tumble” are inferior to the gender free utopia they push for? Sorry, no matter how vigorously they argue the point boys & girls are different genders. They can grow up & be whatever they like, even if they choose a traditional role.

  • Docrailgun

    I understand what is being said here and I agree that segmenting toys is continuing US society’s sexism.
    My solution was: I bought whatever toys I thought my daughters would like. My younger daughter much prefers superhero Lego sets or sets such as Chima or Ninjago rather than the sets intended to appeal to girls. That said, she likes pink and frilly dresses too.
    Society may model one thing and may want to put our daughters in a box… you don’t have to let them! Though we may not like it that Lego makes sets “for girls”, how we convince them to stop is by not buying them. We can protest and write articles and show our outrage in television interviews all we like, but until someone in accounting at toy companies sees a drop in sales these sorts of things will continue. They must see a market or they wouldn’t develop “girl’s toys”.

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  • Antoinette Stokes

    LEGO was never implying that girls should only play with the girl marketed sets. They did their research and were trying to reach girls that wouldn’t normally play with LEGO. LEGO Friends is extremely popular. It’s a great way to get girls into LEGO, and if they like it, they may expand into other LEGO themes. LEGO isn’t the problem. Parents not letting children choose which toys they want no matter what aisle it is in is the problem. My mother was great and let me choose what I wanted to play with. I had LEGO, Barbie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Creepy Crawlers, bracelet kits and a multitude of other mixed toys. It didn’t matter if it came from the girl or boy aisle.

  • Hoche Briones

    we were lego kids, the ones on our side of the street. all the pieces are in one big plastic basket. Every morning i would wake up to my playmates rummaging in that basket in the house already building things. we learned how to create everything from space ships to cars and guns and horses. Even robots with the minifigures in them. my mom would buy a new set, and we’d build and play for a while, then take them apart to build other things. and dirty them, oh yes. even back then in the 80′s there were already themes, like lego space. we didn’t mind. it was still awesome. and i believe to keep on being awesome lego has to have THEMES. specifically targeted to people (not just kids) looking for a translation of say, their favorite movies like star wars. i say people, because boys and girls also like star wars. including full-grown adults. one can also buy other sets with a feminine theme if they wanted to. what i’m trying to say is lego doesn’t dictate which sets are for boys or girls. parents and kids do.

  • John Smith

    The child on the right from 2012 is clearly playing with DUPLOs… I can’t even take this article seriously!!!

    Honestly though, “GoldieBlox” does the exact same thing, but it is marketed and perceived as an encouragement-for-young-girls-in-STEM toy. The ribbons on Goldieblox used to make gears spin is ok but a vanity in the reporter van is not, when they’re both designed to make the practice of building things more appealing to young girls (or more cynically, make these products sell better to young girls)?

    It’s frustrating to see feminists up in arms about a lack of appealing toys for aspiring female engineers, and then be up in arms when a building toy is designed to appeal to aspiring female engineers (let’s be honest, more girls that buy that set will be engineers than reporters).

    I think we should be upset with the little girls, to whom I’m sure LEGO test-marketed this strategy, for being so sexist, what with their choice of girlie colors and girlie interests…

    I love the 1981 ad.

    • Sara Jung-Claßen

      DUPLO is the toddler version of Lego so your point is…?

      • John Smith

        It was a joke, relax Sara… they could’ve made the comparison photo more apt is all – nobody would confuse a DUPLO block for a LEGO block.

  • Bradlee Hall

    The plural of Lego is Lego! If you are too stupid to check grammatical conventions before writing an article perhaps you should not be writing articles.

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  • dorothydistefano

    I have 24898559589898 Lego in my house. They have each personally injured me in some way, but that’s another story. When I was Lego-age (think 70s), Lego were generic pieces that you created with. You used your imagination. These new sets with specific pieces and thousand page pictorial directions don’t tap into imagination at all. My boys (I have 3) built the originals and then broke them down, mixed the kits, and made whatever the hell they wanted. My other point is that, while I wanted a Barbie Townhouse, I built one out of boxes, Lego, and even an elevator from my brother’s erector set. Girls can like like Barbie and Lego. My sons really enjoyed action figures, male and female, as well as the “Barbiefied” dolls from each Disney movie. I bought them for them. They played with them alongside Legos and trucks. Boys can like that stuff too. Give me a break.

    We need more women in STEM fields and Lego, with its robotics tournaments lead kids (boys AND girls) towards that. They should keep the toys as gender neutral as the future competitions in Lego League. By the way, I’m a judge for FRC and we had some GREAT all girls teams last year.

  • dorothydistefano

    Is it totally inappropriate if I go get all of the Lego bins out of my basement and build something now?

  • Geek0id

    Toy manufactures have been trying to sell the same thing to both genders for decades. They would love to double there base. It doesn’t seem to happen for some reason unless they ad certain items or colors. Is it better to have a LEGO News van with cake to get LEGO into the hand of children who wouldn’t get them otherwise?

  • Meatball.Jones

    I don’t know… I think people are thinking too much into things now. I have 2 girls, 2 boys. My oldest is 17. She loved basic legos, pokemon, puddles, bikes, and what some considered “boy toys” like lincoln logs. She was what I considered to be just a kid (as my first child) I let her just like whatever. There was no steering of gender.

    I then had my second daughter and expected her to be the same way, but… she wasn’t.
    Not at all. She was a princess. She liked PINK and princess this and princess that. Being somewhat of a tomboy myself, I was a bit sad, but I refuse to sway my children one way or another. I’d miss the puddle jumping and bug collecting, but I opened up to seeing HER world.

    I can tell you that while she played with basic legos (since I save everything to re use), she about flipped her lid for these so called “girl” legos when they came out a few years ago.
    She is now 11 and STILL asks for these sets. She has the house, some kind of bakery, even saves up money to buy them herself.

    What is SO wrong with this?

    I don’t see anything wrong with generalized marketing for “girls”.
    Some girls are more girly then others. I didn’t happen to BE that girl, I still am not and everything for WOMEN is marketed the same to me as an adult – Look at Victorias Secret, Jewelry ads… SHOES… I honestly hate that crap. I like photography, bugs, computers, star trek… Some ladies are girly’er then others. Why make it one way? We can have both. We can have primary legos and pink and purple legos and get along.

    It’s really just NOT as complex as people are making this.
    My daughters are SO very different because that’s WHO they are, not because they were marketed to that way. Parents should be the ones watching their children’s personalities and allowing them to like “whatever” they want, not to be swayed by marketing or a simple thought of “Oh it’s PINK, I have to buy this for my girl” – buy what your child shows interest in.

  • Claire Smith

    The problem that I have with the Friends lego sets is not the fact that it is pink or even female orientated but just that there is so little to actually build. The sets are more about the characters and what they are doing in the building – not how the building/vehicle is made. Surely lego is all about the act of building, whether from instructions or imagination. The friends lego sets have so little useful building bricks.

    • Rachel

      Actually, one of the things LEGO got right with Friends is the fact that the sets *do* focus on building just like the other themes sets. This idea that Friends sets are prefabricated or that there is little building involved needs to die because it is demonstrably false.

  • Mona Leigh

    First off, I was born in 1963, so this is coming from a ‘seasoned’ woman of experience! ;) Not only do I think it is totally unnecessary to have Legos marketed to the genders, I think this is representative of a dying breed of toys, period. Legos were a toy that fostered what I am going to call ‘free-thinking creativity’. There were no kits with instructions; there were no right or wrong ways to put together Legos – it was 100% open-ended. I spent many, many hours constructing the way my brain wanted to configure them. I know for a fact it helped my spatial awareness skills, and improved many other concepts that truly were areas of weakness in my skill set. And to top that off, I enjoyed them immeasurably. I have worked in the early childhood education field for 20 years now, and I am completely distressed by the lack of toys that respect and enhance the human intellect. We think we’ve come so far…

    • Bradley Gawthrop

      The assertion that there were no kits or instructions in Lego when you were a child is simply not true. There were only three years where plastic Lego was sold in the US without sets/instructions, 1961-1963. Since 1964, kits with instructions have always been part of their product offering. Your family may not have bought them, but they were around. (similarly, big tubs of mixed parts/bricks with no kit/instruction aspect are also still available, making Lego as good a tool for free-thinking play as it ever was)

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  • sylvie369

    I may be missing the point here, but doesn’t the part about Rachel Giordano undermine the point? As far as I can see, you’re suggesting that she DIDN’T play with the gender stereotyped Legos, right? So the fact that she wound up in a stereotypically female role in life anyway seems contrary to the point that the pink Legos are harmful to girls. I think if she’d wound up doing something that wasn’t the standard gender stereotype she’d have made a far better example here, right?

  • Tim

    BTW, the plural of Lego is Lego, not Legos, check out the company website if you don’t believe me.

  • Greg Barton

    Want the “girl themed” legos to go away? Don’t buy them. My 6yo daughter never wanted them. She was crazy about Ninjago, Star Wars, and 3-in-1 vehicle sets and that’s what we bought her. I recently got her Mindstorms. You have a choice with your dollars.

    • Sara Jung-Claßen

      I’d argue, though, that the “boy” sets aren’t much better in respect to fostering creativity. There’s one thing you’re supposed to build out of them (or three, as with the vehicle/creator things) and that’s it.

      Luckily, the finished models don’t survive actual playing all that long (seriously, what’s with that? the old Lego were much sturdier/stuck together better) so at our house even the set bricks go into the general brick bin after a really short while.

      • Noel Wood

        “I’d argue, though, that the “boy” sets aren’t much better in respect to
        fostering creativity. There’s one thing you’re supposed to build out of
        them (or three, as with the vehicle/creator things) and that’s it.”

        Wait – are you for or against “fostering creativity”? Having a bunch of other building instructions besides the one to three that they provide isn’t how you foster creativity. Giving them one to three and then telling them to use their imagination to come up with others (which is exactly what LEGO has always done) does plenty more to foster creativity.

        • Sara Jung-Claßen

          That’s pretty much what I meant to say, guess I didn’t word it all that well. One of the big issues with the Lego Friends set is that they are very rigid (see the 50 page building manuals – and if you give a kid a manual, most are going to follow that) and I just wanted to point out that the boy sets aren’t less rigid, there’s just more of them.

          I’d be more than happy if the themed sets simply disappeared and we went back to simple mini figures (with a more equal male/female ratio, though) and coloured bricks. :)

          • Noel Wood

            “I’d be more than happy if the themed sets simply disappeared and we went
            back to simple mini figures (with a more equal male/female ratio,
            though) and coloured bricks. :)”

            You realize, I hope, that LEGO would go out of business within a month, right? It’s a moot point, however, because we can’t “go back” to something that never existed. LEGO has had themes and specialty parts as long as they’ve had minifigures. Also, I love the hypocritical nostalgia: “Let’s go back to the way things used to be, except not!”

            You understand, though, that there are no requirements that the child follows the instructions, right? Some kinds prefer to just open the set and build their own creations. Others prefer following a set of instructions. There are merits to learning to follow building instructions, too. Architects have to learn to read blueprints before they start designing their own buildings.

            Besides, nobody is criticizing Snap-Tite or Revell or Monogram for building model sets that, unlike LEGO, actually only have one possible model. There’s nothing wrong with model building as a hobby, no matter what the material is.

          • Sara Jung-Claßen

            You realise that your tone is pretty condescending, right?

            I never said there was anything wrong with model building, both my husband and father-in-law are very good Revell customers. However, when a company like Lego that boasts to “foster creativity” goes and produces a toy range that consists of 95% themed sets – I find that a bit hypocritical.

            In the end, it’s all about the money (and yes, I realise that, as a company, that’s what they’ve always been after). Themed sets like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings simply sell better than a box of random bricks. I’d just like people to think about why that is.

          • Noel Wood

            “You realise that your tone is pretty condescending, right?”

            I see nothing wrong with speaking with a condescending tone to someone who is speaking from a position of ignorance.

            “However, when a company like Lego that boasts to “foster creativity”
            goes and produces a toy range that consists of 95% themed sets – I find
            that a bit hypocritical”

            Did you see the LEGO Movie? You should, because it addresses that bogus criticism.

            If LEGO didn’t want children to be creative with their product, they’d sell pre-built models or make the parts non-interchangeable. I still assemble the sets based on the instructions at least once after I open them – and I learn building techniques and get new ideas every single time. That’s fostering creativity. And kids get a lot more out of that than a 38-year-old man.

          • Sara Jung-Claßen

            “I see nothing wrong with speaking with a condescending tone to someone who is speaking from a position of ignorance.”

            And that tells me everything I need to know about you, thanks and goodbye.

          • Noel Wood

            …which is exactly what someone says when they can’t refute any of the other points in the post.

            I’m sorry your sensibilities are so fragile that you didn’t get the point of what I was saying. But perhaps if you, as well as the vast majority of the other people in here throwing their barbs at the LEGO company (which is one of the most socially responsible and customer-friendly companies in the world and is still family-owned rather than being beholden to some outside group of shareholders so they actually have more leeway to listen to and respond to their criticism) would do five minutes of research to determine whether or not they’re making a valid complaint or are going on their own presuppositions, then there wouldn’t be all this manufactured outrage over a bunch of non-issues.

      • Noel Wood

        “the old Lego were much sturdier/stuck together better”

        That’s just plain untrue. The quality of the ABS plastic today and precision of the injection molding is far superior to the ones you’re imagining through your nostalgia.

        • Sara Jung-Claßen

          I don’t have Lego nostalgia since I hardly ever played with them as a kid. My cousin had the space station though and that didn’t fall apart if you looked at it funny, something we have encountered with many of the newer sets (especially the Ninjago sets).

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  • http://twitter.com/lexcorvus Lex Corvus

    This article, like every treatment on this subject I’ve ever seen, completely ignores an obvious possibility: perhaps today’s toy companies are simply better at meeting the needs of their customers than they were in the past. Why assume there’s something mysteriously right about marketing practices in 1981 that has gone horribly awry in 2014? After all, the first step in selling something is figuring out what people want to buy. This suggests the possibility that the 1981 marketing practices were sub-optimal, and that boys’ and girls’ preferences are on average sufficiently different to justify marketing to them separately. (One could argue that such preferences are the result of socialization, but this could hardly be the toy companies’ fault. The strategy “the customers want X, so socialize them to want Y, then sell them Y” is obviously inferior to “the customers want X, so sell them X.”)

    This analysis raises a broader question: How can corporations simultaneously be amoral profit maximizers and sexist? I’d guess HuffPo readers typically believe they are both, and yet the two clearly come into conflict. If a corporation’s sexism means it isn’t maximizing profits, then other corporations have a financial incentive not to be sexist. If they could make more money by returning to 1981 marketing practices, then why don’t they? And if they couldn’t make more money by returning to 1981 practices, then why should they?

  • Jynnette Neal

    Reitterating what many have said about disliking the “out of the box build sets” The Lego movie caused my daughter to have more interest in playing with her “Friends” Lego set which she got for a birthday a year or more ago. We went to the Lego store after the moive and I was personally horrified by a display that showed “Low and behold — not ONE, but TWO ways to build something out of a set of Legos.” I remember when you could build not one but a thousand creations! I have mourned the loss of creativity in Lego sets for years. We are fortunate enough to have a Lego store and now we only buy from the big wall of bricks instead of an actual set that tells us what to build. I understand following instructions is valuable, but like the article says up to 7 kids build for fun. After 7 the kits that make the Death Star and The Simpson’s house are cool, but not affordable for an 8 year old. The Simpson’s house is $200 — I think this illustrates that Legos stopped building just for kids a long time ago.

  • Eva Dedenbach

    Toys, such as Legos and doctor kits, need to be gender neutral again! In an age where half of all med students are girls, why should doctor kits and Legos be just for boys? There are even women in the fields of engineering and architecture, but toy companies seem to be moving backwards in a time when the world is progressing!
    I worked in a toy department for two years, and have seen the sexism that toy companies seem to tell parents and their children. It’s the parents who are the biggest consumers of toys! Sexism is toys is everywhere-including our Gameboys, bicycles, wagons, toy cars-and we need to take back the gender neutral toys. I had a doctor kit when I was little, I played with Legos (I still like to play with Legos), I even played with dolls. And I turned out okay.

  • equalityplease

    I think the real beauty in LEGO is that no matter how kids choose to play with them, they are using their own brainpower to either create a unique design or learning how to follow instructions, and developing essential motor skills and planning strategies. There is no “wrong” way, and I say if it gets them a break from technology and video games for awhile, the more LEGO the better! Of course those technological skills will be essential for them to function, because that’s the direction society has been headed for a long time, and it’s not like it doesn’t have its advantages too. But it’s still great to see kids take an interest in creative play that doesn’t require batteries and can take whatever form they desire… no matter their gender.

  • Taryn Stuart

    Not having children and my niece nearing 21, I haven’t been in the toy aisles in a Long Time. Learning about these PINK Legos is Revolting. As much a I like pink, I’d Never get such a thing. What a Rotten toy idea. How That made it I’ll never know.

    When I was a kid, Barbie clothes were all different colors, I had a wide variety of designs to choose from. They were not labeled as “For a Tea Party” or “For Walking the Dog.” I didn’t have to have a manufacturer Tell me what the clothing was for.

    Now, it seems all you can get is PINK, maybe a bit of yellow or orange contrasting color with a Flowered design. And their fastened with awkward Velcro. :-p Disgusting. You really had to look closely to find the Barbie aisle. Now, I know it on sight when I pass by. The whole aisle is PINK.

    When did Manufacturers go stupid? Gender specific? It just causes trouble if a child sees only a few colors available to them. I see that as giving a girl the psychological impression that THEY are Limited. That’s NOT an encouraging thought. I personally played comfortably with dolls and trucks. I built things with Lincoln Logs and Legos. They both had boys & Girls on the packages.

    If I had a girl, she would NOT just be playing with Pink colored toys. I still have my Barbies and clothes. I’d let her play with mine. And I’d be giving her NON-Gender Specific toys. I simply want a child that, like me, will be able to use their imagination.

    I seriously hope manufacturers “Grow Up.”

  • Jeremy

    I still have all my Lego from when I was a child, in a big plastic box, which I’ve now passed on to my daughter (10). She plays with it. However I’ve not bought much new Lego as it’s just so damn expensive (at least here in Australia). The more special marketed and co-branded it’s become (Batman, LOTR, etc) the more the price has rocketed. Such a shame.

  • Cheree

    I have three daughter, five and under and I was the original cohort for “Teen Women in Science and Technology” and other math/science stuff focused on including and fostering girls in science/technology. I have a science degree. My daughters so far also have very little interest in buildings and mechanics, despite surrounding them with gender neutral blocks and legos (you know, the set from the 80s). We recently bought a Cinderella castle in the Duplo set for the 3yo and a Friends set for the 5yo and the girls have now built stairs, cars, carts, etc which they had not previously done. SO . . .imo, if it gets girls who otherwise wouldn’t to build and expand those spatial skills, it’s a good thing.

  • Plamich

    You do realize that in this story you have done the labelling yourself as well. There is nothing stopping a boy from playing with pink Lego or those marketed to girls or visa versa. Yet you have made the distinction. My son has Legos of all colours, even some of the “girl” stuff. Consumers are buying and Lego is responding to consumer wants or else they couldn’t sell enough of it to make it worth while. “Girl” Lego is a fairly recent marketing strategy for Lego and I have heard many a girl over the years wanting pink and purple Lego. Lego responded. As for the expensive models, my son mixes them up after he’s had them for a while and makes his own creations from them and random bricks we buy. You do know that Lego sells single bricks and containers bull of random brocks, they can even create their own container full of bricks. The container is an translucent white. My son loves playing with Lego in what ever form it comes in. Some kids need a model and some don’t.

  • Lo

    How in this day and age are we still segmenting toys based on gender? A step backwards, when we should be moving forwards! I thought the 21st century was all about equality and freedom to be yourself. I think I am naive.

  • Atlas Educational

    The new Lego Movie let’s everyone know what they really believe- that being yourself and “building” your world- your way is how it should be.

  • dragster147

    All this hate is being created by parents with agendas. I have seen boys and men buy the pink girly stuff for other reasons. My daughter is a tomboy. She nails it down like this;

    She doesn’t like the color pink. She has me buy her the Marvel Superhero kits instead because she thinks they look cool. She plays with Black Widow and has even put female heads on non gender specific bodies and turned them into women characters that are the hero of her scene.

    MY daughter has gone beyond the marketing strategy and got what she wanted and made it her own with the use of her imagination. Kids have a way of going against what the adults set out to create for them.

    Let Lego have a bunch of pink stuff with girls and a few boy dolls in them and have another line of superheroes and what-not. Both boys AND girls have bought both sets and been very happy with them all because they didn’t have parents to FORCE any gender role modeling on them or gone so far as to ERASE any gender identity like as if having one was wrong. I so hate when parents make a girl feel bad that she was born a girl and they try to erase her gender identity.

    Again, My daughter is healthy, proud to be a nerdy tomboy, and proud to be a girl because I taught her to be proud of herself and EVERY part of her that makes her special.

  • REALLY SERIOUS GUY

    THOSE AREN’T LEGOS IN 2012 THEY’RE DUPLO YOU SATAN WORSHIPPING DEMON SPAWN

  • Anna Bahn✌

    They should just make legos with all colors, including pink. If you’re going to discuss gender segmenting, mention how boys aren’t allowed to be affiliated with anything GIRLY because being the least bit feminine is a weakness. Just let the kids go with what they want, even if your son wants to wear a tutu and your daughter wants to play ninja. My parents are all about gender roles, I just hope new parents don’t follow their example.

  • Johnny Powell

    I just don’t understand how Legos are sexist. I understand sexism is still an issue, but the world has changed since the original picture. Women are stronger now, and they show it more every single day. I think its important for younger girls, and young women see role models like this, but I don’t think legos and toys should be the target.. You will never change the fact that toymakers make gender specific toys. They will make what they can sell. Its not political, or personal, its Financial. As long as pink legos sell, they will continue to make them. I’m not even sure pink legos exist I only thought there was one type of legos, well two the big ones and the small ones. I played with the same set of legos my sister did.

    The point is, Women are stronger than other women give them credit for, and because of this misconception they believe that their individual type of strength is the only type of strength. The issue is not women, its us as the human race. Every individual has their own individual perception of what strength is and of what individuality is. And we judge the rest of the world based on our perception. And so pictures of a little girl in jeans playing with “Boy Legos” is apparently suppose to contradict sexism?

    I believe that if you try to instill YOUR idea of strength in a young person, boy or girl, you are doing them a disservice, and are building their individuality instead of letting them build it themselves.

    Sexism goes from parents to children, then from children to other children. Changing the toymakers will not change the peer pressure, or the expectations of a father for his sun to hunt and fish, and the daughter to take up Ballet. I had this discussion with my sister a long time ago and I taught her only one thing. How to tell mom and dad NO, and to make her own decisions as to what she wanted to do.

    I remember when my sister decided to stop her gymnastics, and picked up computer games. I remember that first glorious time she whipped my butt rediculously hard at Halo. Now that being said, I remember how beautiful she looked in her dress and makeup at her graduation from high school.

    Beauty comes from within. If we can teach the youth of this generation that basic rule, they won’t think the colors are what makes a lego structure special, or a doll look great, its the inner strength it demonstrates. The power of accomplishment you feel when you put a fashionable outfit on a doll, or when you finally get the balance perfect on your new lego house.

  • Joe

    Giordano is a quack and should be sued for calling herself a doctor of medicine and a physician. I think the article makes a valid point though.

  • Patrick Sullivan

    My daughter is 3. When we took her to the Lego store and let her pick out what she wanted. All by herself, she chose the pink Disney princess set. Should I feel there’s something wrong with her because she followed the gender expectation of the manufacturer? Not at all. My little girl audio happens to like pirates and superheroes and sports. She plays with whatever she likes and we encourage her to do so. It just do happens that on that day, she wanted to be a Disney princess.

  • Gomez

    People complain that LEGO sets have become gender-specific and exclusive lately. But what they seem not to realize is that LEGO has been getting hassled for not creating enough sets that are ‘for’ girls. So, in order to expand their customer base and avoid claims of sexism, they make sets for girls. Now, they get criticized for being sexist by making gender-specific sets. They just can’t catch a break! Let your kids pick out the set THEY want to play with, as long as you explain that being a girl or a boy doesn’t mean you can only play with one kind. OR, just go to the LEGO store and buy them a bulk bag of miscellaneous blocks. No instructions, no theme, no possibility of stereotyping.

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  • Brick Specialist

    Lego has been getting so much crap for not making toys for girls for so many years that they finally realized that they better make new things or else. As a Lego employee, I would get parents constantly asking where the girl stuff was. As a girl who grew up with “regular” Lego bricks (I am also 37) I have been confused by this question every time I hear it. “They are all for girls,” I would answer, “But these sets” and here I would show them some that I liked better, “are ones that would have appealed to me as a child. There were protests against the percentage of boy to girl toys and now that “girl” toys are here there are protests that they are too girly.
    It isn’t Lego that’s the problem, it’s the parents who tell their kids that it’s wrong to like what they like. Who gives a crap if girls want to look pretty? just teach them that it should be lower on the list than being good and kind and trying hard. Who cares if they want to make their toys bake or date? I love to bake and I had to meet my husband somehow. Don’t force your kids to be gender neutral, support what they like and let them know that if they want something not traditional for their gender that you will still love them, then give them the ammo to defend themselves against idiots. Teach your children to be love what they love without shame and you will still get girls in tutus and boys in camo. And that’s ok.

  • SallySue

    As someone who loved the instruction sets and spent hours building from the templates – I’m not at all insulted by the idea that Legos are supposed to foster creativity and critical thinking.

    The template sets that Lego has always sold were often times complex and time consuming. They also could be taken apart to be used for different things and to be combined in brilliant and creative ways.

    Now there are 3 pieces you snap together and it’s done. It’s insulting to children’s intelligence AND creativity.

    • http://boazandruth.blogspot.com/ My Boaz’s Ruth

      Three pieces? have you been using Lego Primo recently? Maybe some of the Duplo models only have 3 pieces to snap together. But even the small Friends polybags have more pieces than that.

  • Noel Wood

    From Wikipedia:

    “Naturopathy, or naturopathic medicine, is a pseudoscientific form of alternative medicine based on a belief in vitalism, which posits that a special energy called vital energy or vital force guides bodily processes such as metabolism, reproduction, growth, and adaptation. Naturopathy favors a holistic approach with non-invasive treatment and generally avoids the use of surgery and drugs. Among naturopaths, complete rejection of biomedicine and modern science is common”

    Too bad the little girl turned out to be a quack who is responsible for slowing down the progress of actual science.

    • Alien

      Then Wiki is a little wrong because naturopathy is something a bit different (more than this).

      In Europe, they teach children in schools not to believe everything they read on Wikipedia ;)

  • Hannah Bemel

    Seriously, a story about cake? But to be fair, men have to put on makeup and look “just right” for the camera too. I’m being a little sarcastic – I do get pigeon holing thing. My guess is someone saw a niche that could be exploited. It falls in the same category as Bic pens “for her,” pink Nerf guns with pink sponge ammunition “for her.” As if girls haven’t been writing with gender-neutral Bic pens and pummeling each other with gender-neutral sponge balls for years. A few decades ago, the popular opinion was that men and women are exactly the same. We’ve swung the pendulum toward the opposite extreme today. What happened to happy medium?

  • http://www.thepeatgroup.com brianpeat

    Well, it’s not pink, but this certainly isn’t new for lego. I present you the 1978 beauty salon…certainly not made for boys :)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YvN92CxB00

  • Purple Piggie

    I was just thinking this week that my six year old daughter, who absolutely LOVES space would love Space Lego, like I had as a kid. I played with that stuff for hours and hours. It’s too bad that all we can get these days is the Star Wars Lego (in the boys aisle along with all the other war/fighting/monster/violence-based toys). I won’t let her watch that violence at her age (I love the Star Wars movies BTW, but this is a kid who has nightmares after watching Charlotte’s Web) and I don’t want her to be limited by having to build the Millennium Falcon instead of her own space ship creation. I wish the toy companies would stop marketing everything around cartoons and movies and go back to more generic things. I HATE DORA AND DIEGO AND F-ING PRINCESSES after having that $#it crammed down my throat all the damn time! And my daughter won’t touch anything with Dora or Disney Princesses on it either which severely limits the toy options.

    • Noel Wood

      “I don’t want her to be limited by having to build the Millennium Falcon instead of her own space ship creation”

      Then teach her that the Falcon can be taken apart and something else can be built from it. What, are you not aware that the bricks come apart and can be reassembled?

  • Katelynn Yurchak

    I loved my legos growing up, my parents on the other hand not so much. They are little evil things to step on. The only thing I never got that I REALLY wanted was an erector set.

    My parents got me K’nex instead, especially any of the sets that were NASA related.

    I also had a R/C cars, and matchbox tracks. I hated barbies because they didn’t DO ANYTHING.

    Now I’m a commission artist painting miniatures of games like Warhammer and Warmachine.

  • DrForester

    Did you happen to show her or point out that LEGO does still make buckets of bricks, as well as a “creator” line with parts and ideas for several different builds? It’s not all licensed stuff and theme sets you know.

  • Keithan Rogers

    Was the original article the one where everyone was moaning about the non-existence of girl themed LEGO? When I was a kid (20 years ago, so 90s) LEGO had become sets with directions. We just got a whole ton of sets and then made anything we wanted. We would trade them with eachother as well. Everyone I knew, boy or girl, had several huge tubs filled with LEGOs. I’d still have mine now had my house not caught fire, and would probably still play with them sometimes. I’m a firm believer that sexism and feminism both are largely perpetuated by feminists. I’m in the Army, a uniquely masculine job. Sexism doesn’t really happen, and when it does its an outlier.

    • shayneo

      No its not the non-existance of girl themed lego, its that opposite, that what lego sells to girls are girl themed toys that arent lego at all. Lego , the basic stuff, blocks, wheels, little genderless characters (or at least gender goes as far as “has lipstick” to signify woman) appeal to both genders, and provide kids with imaginative construction play, but they are only marketed to boys now, whilst the girls get dolls and kitchen sets with almost no construction based imagination involved.

  • Erin

    Any parent with more than a few years experience knows that the more specific the use of the toy, the less play time it will get. Kids–boys (I have six) and girls (I have three)–prefer open-ended toys that let them use their imagination. Blocks, LEGOS, cars and trucks of all kinds, stuffed animals, toy phones, marble runs, Lincoln Logs, etc. will win every time for a bored child. Toy company executives probably know this too but they’re marketing to other adults who need to find something different for each gift-giving occasion and who will be wooed by pictures on a box.

  • Brett Deadrick

    Why do none of these articles mention the fact that one BIG reason why generic sets don’t exists anymore is because LEGO lost their patents in 1989 so any company can make these same lego bricks (just not under the LEGO name). That is one of teh reasons why LEGO avoids more generic sets like the one pictured on 1981..they can’t defend the copyright in court.

    • Erin

      The generic sets are easy to find if you want them though. I bought one for my son for Christmas. You can buy a box of generic bricks, a box of wheels of all sorts, a box of doors and windows, boxes of people. That being said, the models are good to add to your generic collection too. they have a lot of different configurations that don’t come in the generic boxes.

    • shayneo

      Hey? I brought a generic set for my nephew just the other day. The problem is that the generic sets, and the themed-but-still-full-of-traditional-blocks sets are targetted at boys, whilst the girls just get dolls and kitchen sets targetted at them. What is being said here is why are the girls not getting generic sets targetted at them too? They used to be and girls loved them.

  • Troll

    Would have been more impressed if Lego Girl had grown up to be an actual doctor

    • John Smith

      You mean nurse, right?

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  • Author Sarah Bella

    As the proud parent of a ‘tomboy’ who loves the ‘girl’ Legos, I feel compelled to point out that it isn’t the job of toy companies to teach our children that they can do and be whatever they want – it’s ours as parents. It’s our job to have the conversation with our daughter where we tell them that even if the Lego van has a make up table in it, that’s not real journalism. Thanks to ‘girl’ Legos, my daughter wants to pursue engineering in college.

    I don’t think it’s any more damaging to give girls the option of pink Legos than it is to limit the options to ‘boy’ themes in an effort to force our girls to not be defined by their gender. There is nothing wrong with girls who like pink, or make up or bakeries. Building a Lego bakery does not mean a little girl will think that’s her only option in life – as long as we, as parents, continue to remind our children not to allow themselves to be limited.
    Adults are the ones who give these toys their gender labels. If we stop doing that, they all become gender neutral.

    • http://andimthedad.com/ And I’m the Dad

      AMEN!

  • sam

    The problem with gender marketing, or with any identity marketing is that people are not represented as the holistic, complete humans that they are with their subjective inner worlds and issues like anyone else, but instead as archetypes, as images. There is a more general problem today of objectifying children, seeing them as simply ‘adults in waiting’ rather than people in their own right.

  • nivmani

    Cringing as I type this out.. Even as I was sitting letting this wonderful message get absorbed in my head about creativity being Gender neutral and reminiscing about the models I see & played with in the 1981 ad, My 4 yr old comes up and tells me she wants a princess lego, when I ask her why she replies that set (in the 1981 ad) is for boys. I have my work cut out for me to neutralize & vanquish the marketing monsters, it seems!

  • Leash

    Lego started making “girl” Legos in the early 90′s. They were called Belville Legos. I wish the writer would’ve done a bit more homework on Lego before writing this. Growing up I felt like Lego and other toy companies were telling me pink, dolls and princess were what girls played with. Now with daughters and a son of my own I see them struggling in the store also. As parents we need to teach our kids that colors don’t define who they are. This is a great article but again Lego Friends didn’t start the “girl” Legos issue. Also this problem didn’t began in recent years. It has been going on for decades if not more.

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  • LenaCardell

    I’d love to see an interview with Judy Lotas, the ad’s creator. She appears to have an agency here: http://www.lpny.com/inquiry

    • Lori Day

      Here you go! I had no idea this was happening while I was planning my own blog post, nor that Judy was wondering where the girl was! http://mashable.com/2014/01/21/lego-girl-power-ad-1981/

      • LenaCardell

        Cool, thanks!

    • http://www.womenyoushouldknow.net/ Women You Should Know

      Hi Lena – We are on it! Be sure to check back soon for an interview with Judy Lotas… she’s definitely a Woman You Should Know! Thanks for your comment.

  • Sarah

    My son was never permitted to play with guns. He loved lego. AND he made a Lego gun, among many other creations.

  • Catherine Speechley-Pell

    saddest day for my kids when, after a move to another City – The suitcases of Lego disappeared. Never did settle with the moving company – who told us to keep looking…

  • Ben

    I don’t encourage it but I can’t stop my two girls 2 n 4 from loving all things pink, shoes, handbags, sparkely things, … I am amazed … They spend ages choosing outfits each morning … I’m one of two boys with no sisters so I’ve been fascinated to see this just come out of them. I tried to get them interested in the Lego I want but no way … They want the girls stuff (especially the 4 yr old) and that’s it .

  • Mike

    Lego was totally gender neutral for many many years, but parents were only giving it to boys. Lego wanted girls to play with Lego bricks too, so they made pink packaging to let parents know it’s for girls too (it doesn’t actually say ‘for girls’ on the box!).. Lego is now played with by boys and many more girls (a good thing?), the friends range is very successful. but it is the Parents who buy Lego not the kids. It is the Parents who prefer a pink box over any of the others. Nothing has changed in the other Lego ranges they still don’t say ‘for boys’ on the box. The Lego Creator Horizon Express Train still has a female driver… but it’s the Adults who say ‘that train is for boys’…

  • Kim

    I have 3 daughters and my youngest is absolutely in love with Legos. She usually picks the city series with the police, fire, etc. I really wish Lego offered the generic box of bricks with nothing to use but your imagination to build something. I’ve been frustrated for years that everything they put out is in a kit! She still loves them though. She and her best friend, another young lady, are always in Lego mode, have seen the movie and just love to put them together. They are both 13 and still loyal Lego-ers! I’m glad they like this wonderful toy, I look at it as a 3-D puzzle that works their brains. Still, I just don’t like the series geared to girls. Very sexist.

    • Alix

      While you can’t find it in most stores, Lego does still sell the generic boxes – you just have to go online or to an actual Lego store.

  • Dawn Anderson

    “Gender-segmented toys may double corporate profits”

    And there, in the last line of this article lies the real answer for having 2 different types of Lego’s and other gender specific toys. PROFIT

  • Robert

    I understand the need for Lego to compete, but I was still disappointed when they first started to license to make items beyond the original creative style that they started with. Having said that, Lego has only further divided and removed a lot of the creativity that they originally had. When I was a child, there were themes, but those themes added to creativity, and it was fun to try and copy a movie item, but then to take them apart and create something original. I still have my original Lego sets from the late 1970′s and 1980′s. I see the difference with my son’s sets and how he plays with them.

    • Noel Wood

      “I understand the need for Lego to compete, but I was still disappointed
      when they first started to license to make items beyond the original
      creative style that they started with”

      Yes, no company should ever progress over the course of 55 years. The fact that licensed sets saved them from going out of business a little over a decade ago isn’t important; things should be like they were in the old days!

      “Lego has only further divided and removed a lot of the creativity that they originally had”

      You’re right. Those bricks now permanently attach once you connect them. They’re not creative at all!

      “When I was a child”

      *Cue nostalgic flashback music*

      “there were themes, but those themes added to creativity, and it was fun
      to try and copy a movie item, but then to take them apart and create
      something original”

      And that’s simply impossible to do now. Those bricks are perma-connected, like I mentioned above, once you snap them together for the first time!

      ” I still have my original Lego sets from the late 1970′s and 1980′s. I
      see the difference with my son’s sets and how he plays with them.”

      Perhaps that’s a problem with your son, and not a problem with the product.

  • wjv

    I watched an interview with the Lego CEO on Bloomberg TV recently, and he had some interesting statistics on hand. Though I don’t remember the exact numbers, they reflected that traditionally Lego’s market share among girls has been very, very low. Since the launch of the Friends range this has changed suddenly and dramatically, and they’re much closer to gender parity now.

    I myself can attest that in my daughter’s age group (5), Lego Friends is now one of THE in-demand toys when it comes to Christmas and birthdays.

    While I understand and agree with the concerns about gender stereotyping, I think one shouldn’t overlook the possibility that there may be a net positive effect in the fact that girls are now playing with an architectural toy in large numbers. Something that had not, statistically, been the case before.

  • kat

    i miss being able to buy just the lego blocks, to build with creativity… not really liking these sets that tell you what to make already… where is the fun in that!!!

    • Noel Wood

      Then buy the brick boxes and don’t buy the sets. LEGO has had instructions since they first launched the bricks 55 years ago. They’ve also sold bulk brick boxes the whole time as well. Your ignorance of the product is baffling.

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  • ladybugmom

    This is silly. When Lego decided to do the Friends line, it was to answer a call from Moms who felt Lego KITS had become too boyish–and they are, if you do your Lego shopping at Target where they don’t carry the Universal sets. But you can order Universal sets anytime you want from Lego stores and Lego.com. This is not a gender or identity crisis–this is an ignorance crisis. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. I love to see my girls put Friends kits together just as much as the Universal sets, and their boy cousins play with the Friends when they come to our house. I’d rather my children play with these, showing you can own a business, become a veterinarian or a rock star, than play with Disney princess dolls or Barbie where the only possible setup for any message is how you look. Yes, Lego Friends are girly. So what? Why aren’t some of you up in arms about all the Lego kits geared toward boys that don’t move beyond ninjas, fantasy/medieval, and superheroes? Should the boys’ kits come without weapons or tools? Good grief; have some faith in your own children to look to YOU for the messages they need to see and hear. Let them have some fun when it comes to their toys, whether they’re pink or not.

  • jessica

    Bullshit. My daughter loves legos. She chooses her new sets carefully. She has a great mix of pink hello kitty leggos, skylanders legos, and plain old primary color lego sets. All chosen by HER!

    • http://boazandruth.blogspot.com/ My Boaz’s Ruth

      Hello Kitty and Skylander are both MegaBlocks themes, NOT Lego.

  • Volt

    I didn’t read all the comments but here we go.

    I don’t believe the issue here is with the Lego Friends sets or “girl” toys themselves… It’s the fact that toys are separated into boy toys and girl toys, and colors into boy colors and girl colors. There are parents out there who would hesitate or just plain refuse to buy a baby doll for their son, or a Hotwheels track for their daughter. Why? Because that’s for girls! or that’s for boys! It is true that, when both options are available to them, kids are going to play with whatever the heck they want. It doesn’t matter if they choose to play with the “boy” or “girl” stuff, what matters is that they don’t feel pressured, that they HAVE TO or SHOULD, to choose one over the other just because of their sex. The problem is in our society and our culture, which tells us what boys and girls ought to play with, and the adults (who buy the toys) that are already entrenched in it.

    I say all this as a girl who grew up as a “tomboy.” I didn’t care much for Barbies or dolls, though we did have them. I preferred Hotwheels and stuffed animals, and, as I got older, dinosaurs and Pokemon. For a while my parents did the “that’s for boys” thing, but after a while they got the message (for the most part). Still, it made me feel awkward when family would buy me “girly” gifts or clothes, or when I was referred to as a tomboy, and for some reason I felt embarrassed if I wanted to get the boys toy in a McDonald’s meal. The last time I remember hearing that was when I was 10 and we were shopping for clothes and I wanted a button-up tee with a dragon on it, but my mom said no because it was “too boyish.” Nowadays, I do dress quite “boyishly” and I still love stuffed animals and dragons and Pokemon (and I have a button-up dragon tee). These experiences don’t make me superior to any girls who like things that are pink or girly. There’s nothing wrong with kids liking the gender-specific stuff if it’s what they like, it’s just that any girls or boys who like things that don’t happen to be specifically marketed towards them should be able to play with them as they please, and not be restricted by adults who are thinking in terms of boy stuff and girl stuff.

    • Volt

      For the record, I was never too into Lego! :P

  • Christina

    I really have strong feelings about this because when I was little, I didn’t need any “girly” LEGOs! I just played *normal* LEGOs with my brother, and we would have lots of fun together building things like houses and castles and having all sorts of adventures. I look back with fondness at those days. LEGOs were fun because you could build whatever you wanted. I would not have found the “FRIENDS” LEGO stuff very fun at all. No adventure! How boring.
    Gender stereotyping is unfair because you cant lump a bunch of people into one group and tell them how they must act and behave when everyone is an individual who has their own choices to make.

  • David Koelle

    Aside from the introduction of the Lego Friends line, I’m not sure that much has really changed since 1981. In 1981, Lego had Universal Build Sets; in 2014, Lego has an even greater selection of Lego Creator and Brick Boxes than they did 33 years ago. In 1981, the predominant Lego themes were Town, Space, and Castle. In 2014, Lego has City, a bunch of sci-fi themes, and Knights Kingdom. The Lego Friends line had the awesome Olivia’s Invention Workshop that contained a microscope, chalkboard with math, chemistry table, workbench with tools and vice, and remote-control robot. http://shop.lego.com/en-US/Olivia-s-Invention-Workshop-3933

  • Forget-Me-Not Social

    I wish the managers who ultimately make the call regarding which products to go ahead and develop would encourage the equality discussion, even as a simple secondary product to bring to market. I’ve been in marketing behind the scenes (marketing data analysis), and frankly, the people I met were more than happy to fudge the data to continue this segregation – including the women.
    I left the industry.

  • Jenn K

    I have two daughters, one is 8 and the other is 9. I also have a giant bucket of 2500 miscellaneous Legos that my brother had when we were kids. Not my Legos, no one bought me Legos. However, my kids LOVE the Legos and they play with them all the time. I don’t remember if Legos came in big sets to make Transformers or Pirate Ships or whatnot then like they do now. But, now, when Christmas comes around, my older daughter, who likes Transformers and Ninjas and Pirates, LOVES getting Legos. My younger daughter isn’t interested in those things. She likes dolls and pretty things and pink. She’s just happy with the loose ones. Now the kits have long, specific instruction manuals to put them together. My older daughter was benefiting from that. When I first heard of pink “girly” Legos, I was appalled, like the author seems to be. I felt that Legos should just be Legos, for everyone, and that the pink ones made the other ones seem like they were for boys. Then my Transformer loving older daughter used birthday money to buy a pink set. Both girls loved it. My younger daughter asked for and received some pink sets for herself this Christmas. It was great to see them BOTH going through their instructions and learning to put the kits together on their own with sets they loved. My mind has been changed. I would like to see the pink sets get a bit more complex, as it takes a lot less process to make the horse barn than it does to make Optimus Prime, and I’d like to see some of the “general kits” become a little more gender neutral (because honestly, many girls AREN’T into Transformers, even though its okay for them to be). So, I guess what I am saying is that marketing to different genders isn’t so bad or unusual. And, there is nothing wrong with buying either type of kit for the kid who loves them. (Much more important is our attitudes as parents to encourage our girls to be comfortable liking ponies or Transformers or both.) However, they need to work on making some more neutral sets and also to make comparative complexity to their sets. If parents show interest in that, likely the company will eventually make it happen.

  • James A.

    Advertisers have always focused on the sexes. 1981 included. Sorry but Barbies were pushed on girls and GI Joe on boys. Little Pony on girls and Transformers on boys. Cabbage Patch Kids on girls and He-Man on boys. This is nothing new but in our over sensitive civilization it just seems that way because the media tells us it is so.

  • Xelphene

    Sorry to be picky, but “LEGOs” just is NOT a word. LEGO is the name of the building bricks and so it is LEGO set; LEGO bricks.
    (I expect you say blocks of butter and not “butters”, etc.)
    PLEASE, when writing an article about something actually use its name correctly.

    Also, what Yulo’s daughter is holding in the picture is Duplo, not LEGO, which is why it is so much bigger than LEGO.

  • Ruddycat

    Most of the girl Lego sets are too easy to put together. Like girls are too dumb. They are all puppy shops and fashion stores. Why do they divide the isles in Target? Here are the GIRL toys and here are the BOY toys. Really???

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  • jen H

    While I played with Legos when I was little, the sets I had were primary colored but still were sets more girls were probably interested in than boys. I had an entire house… a living room, kitchen, etc. that I used like a doll house. My sister-in-law’s set from way back is a teacher’s set. I’m not sure how that’s all that different than today’s sets other than the color difference? And in terms of careers, I’m really confused since the Friends are teens, not adults, so it’s not about what they do for a living but fun places teens would go and things they’d do. In addition, these sets are just bricks… they can be built the way the instructions say or they can be reconfigured per the child’s imagination. I don’t see anything negative about that. Each set contains different novelties which aid in making more play schemes… the apples from the farm stand can be fed to the horses, the pies from the bakery can become the centerpiece of a birthday celebration, etc. Legos are great for not only building but also using play schemes to teach important lessons. I am all for raising my daughter to know she can do WHATEVER she wants, but I don’t think a lot of the criticism is warranted.

  • Ariana Archiaco

    (Please ignore my name and profile picture, I chose them to hide my personal identity)
    I don’t see the sexism in this. I honestly, truly don’t.
    It’s not because I’m stupid, it’s because I think on a bigger scale.

    I’m a 15 year old boy, I live with my mother, my older sister and my younger sister.
    I used to wear skirts simply because I thought it was fun, and my mother didn’t deny my rights to wear skirts like my big sister. My older sister played with my toys, they were mainly meant for boys. she had fun with it, so no one denied her rights to play with them. Companies or adults can hint towards what we might like, but it’s always our own choice to listen to their advice. Just because it says “girly pancake puppy hearts” on the box doesn’t mean you as guy can play with it. Just because it says “big bad cool monster-trucks of fury” on the box doesn’t mean you as girl can’t play with it.

    My younger sister used to be addicted to pink. If it wasn’t pink or didn’t have any pink in it, it wasn’t something for her. That was her own choice. Having this as possibility for girls who do want pink Lego is great. It’s variety, people who weren’t into it before can now have fun with things they do like. Just because there is pink Lego now doesn’t mean they have to give up on normal Lego.
    A little girl can easily decide for herself which Lego sets she likes and which she doesn’t. If she likes pink Lego, so be it. Give her pink Lego.
    If she likes neutral Lego, give her neutral Lego. It’s what she wants and how she thinks she is going to have fun.
    If she wants Lego made for a target audience of males (complicated Star Wars Lego, their robotic Lego sets, or maybe the car related Lego sets), then let her have fun with that.

    See, it only becomes sexist when parents deny their kids something which would normally not fit their gender. Some people wouldn’t let their 5 year old son wear a skirt, I think it’s sad. People are missing out on experiences this way.
    I do prefer pants now, but I think the freedom of choice was great nonetheless.

    Please, let the children choose. And the more variety there is, the better.

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  • BeastyJ

    I have no quarrel with pink and purple Legos but think they should not be offered in gender-specific sets. No doubt, there are plenty of boys who like those colors. It’s the gender-identification of particular colors that I find vexing.

  • Bleeper

    This sounds more like Lori has an something to say, not the little girl. Why not mother, daughter and son book clubs?

  • rubagreta

    Baloney. Lego would love to market just one set of products. It would mean half the marketing costs, half the development costs, less advertising cost, fewer employees, etc. They market to girls because girls and boys are different (shocking, I know). So Lego makes more money because more girls like this type of Lego. It’s that simple.

  • Derek Birch

    This is a great article and the sentiment is right on, thank you for this. but I really have to comment on a gramatical error.

    The word Lego is already plural. The name refers to the product collectively. Therefore the plural of Lego is Lego, not Legos. There is a pile of Lego on the floor, there is also a piece of Lego under the couch. #grammarfail

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  • DanB

    And of course, this is the damage that gender stereotyping can cause. Absolutely awful.
    http://www.samesame.com.au/news/10559/Sad-tale-of-the-boy-who-likes-My-Little-Pony

  • Robert McLean

    “Children haven’t changed. We have.”
    Actually, the children of 1981 have become the advertisers of 2014.

  • evanna

    I dunno how i feel about this. Because while stuff being marketed as for boys or for girls is kinda stupid, it’s not like the ‘girly’ things existing are bad.. I had LOADS of fun playing with Lego Scala, Lego Belville, Lego Clikits. Also with just normal minifig sets and Harry Potter lego and like.. sets that were meant to be creative and had minifigs that were slightly bigger than normal. (found it. was Lego Creator.) And Duplo when I was younger.

    I had sooooo much fun playing with especially Belville and Scala with my friends. And just googling pics of stuff makes me want to dig out my Scala from somwhere in a box.

  • Callie

    I got one of the Lego Friends sets last year (to celebrate earning my black belt), and I ordered pieces to replace all the pink and purple.

    I was the follow directions type and my brother was the build-it-then-rebuild inventor, and we both had a blast growing up.

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  • Jen

    My son 10 has always received the Lego magazine, my daughter 7 was desperate to get her own mag, but when it came it was a different ‘girl’ lego mag and she cried. It comes every quarter now but she never reads it, this makes me sad.

  • Adrian Morgan

    I looked at the “girls” section of the Lego website just now. Among other things I saw the Eiffel Tower, the United Nations Headquarters, and a Duplo fire chief complete with truck, fire, and moustache. Not much gender stereotyping there…

    • Guest

      Exactly! Feminists are just trying to ignite controversy where there is none. It’s oppressive to girls manufacture pink Legos….

    • J Wilson

      do you have a link for this section – I dont see a girls section…. funnily enough I am not a feminist at all – I dont agree with a lot of what they say …yet I did work in a more male orientated area – science – and i did used to play with house building lego and train sets too ! What I really notice about lego is certainly the american site is all categorised in Brands – Star Wars, Disney princess (yuk !!) and Friends lego. Actually Ive seen the Friends lego and its quite nice for young children. But nothing beats the open play of building house lego and ship lego etc

      • Adrian Morgan

        There’s a “Categories” drop-down menu and “Girls” is listed under that.

        I think feminism is a good thing overall, but just like everything else that’s done by human beings, it can sometimes lose its sense of proportion. There are some horrible examples of gender-marketed products out there, but it seems to me you have to do some cherry picking to cast Lego as one of them.

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  • Mommy

    It isn’t just the girly Legos that are a problem. Legos are no longer blocks that allow imagination to soar and engineering to be fostered, most sets are predetermined. Pieces are configured for specific sets. It is very difficult to even find a set of plain, multi-colored Legos that are not from a predetermined set available in mass market. Even at the Lego stores the plain blocks are purchased loose by the cup. The only sets available in the store are predetermined. And the robotics Legos that my 6 and 10 year old girls build with only come in one set per year. The stores do not carry pieces to add to the sets and what is available online are the sensors and brick ( the brain), there are not rods, gears and connectors available to provide flexibility. When did Legos stop encouraging imagination, creativity and problem solving and begin dictating child’s play?

  • Elizabeth

    My 12 year old daughter loves playing with LEGOs, and has for years. She’s thrilled to assemble the dinosaurs, spaceships, and Hero Factory creatures that, apparently, are marketed for boys. Ask her if she recognizes the difference. I don’t think she cares. She is not interested in the pink LEGO house sets with flowers.

    BTW, she wants to be a scientist when she grows up, and I have no doubt she will become that.

    Arguably, what LEGO has done is broadened choice. As people have written below, some people are “follow the rules” builders and others prefer full-blown, free-form creative construction. True, some of the new sets discourage creativity because they are designed to produce one end result only. Also true: some girls (pre-Friends and other brand extensions) previously would never have been engaged by LEGO because they didn’t speak to their “pink” inclinations. These consumers are born “girlie girls.” It’s who they are. And that’s ok. For some of these born girlie-girls, the “pink sets” may actually turn out to be gateway sets. They may draw these girls in at first. Then, if the joy of LEGO really captures them, as it has so many kids, they may move on to other sets.

    The argument could be flipped, too: there is a problem in that LEGO is marketing to boys. So many of the sets are now specifically themed (think Star Wars), that the company has rubbed away its own concept of universal building thrill. Honestly, though, I believe a person can easily shop both sides of the aisle, whatever their gender, without thinking too much about it. My daughter does. More power to her and other gender-blind members of the next generation.

  • Paul Timmermans

    The plural of Lego – is Lego. Not LEGOs.

    • APS

      If that’s all you got out of the story, then that’s really too bad.

      • Paul Timmermans

        No, I got more out of it than that. Just making an attempt at dispelling some of the ignorance here with climbing on a soapbox.

  • Marf

    Regarding Giordano’s statement: “Because gender segmenting toys interferes with a child’s own creative expression.” – does she have anything to back this claim up? Gender identity is something quite real and inescapable. Babies are aware of gender differences and by six months can tell men from women, boys from girls. Very young children, the ones just old enough to start playing with Lego, tend to be very interested in asserting their gender identity. They don’t all do it the same way – some girls and some boys deliberately rebel against gender stereotypes – but it is something they are aware of, regardless of how gender neutral or gender specific toy companies are in the marketing. Lego tried to get girls to buy its products for years and failed. The success of the Friends line comes after years of actual research into what will get girls to want to play with Legos. I for one am quite happy about this development since it means that my husband will be able to share his love of Legos with his daughters, intermixing pieces from all the various lines.

  • Michelle Henninger

    I thought the point of Lego Friends is to get girls more interested in STEM. I wonder what the percentage was of girls who played with Legos in 1981 and the percentage of girls who became engineers vs. today, and if Lego Friends will encourage girls to build more and perhaps feel more encouraged to go into STEM-related fields. I don’t remember ever playing with Legos as a girl or ever being encouraged to play with them. (We mostly played with Barbies!) Hazel and her cousin, on the other hand, really enjoy making kooky little contraptions with the Lego Friends kits. We’ll see how it all plays out, I guess!

  • JAMISON

    my Mother Ran An Ad Agency In The 70′s-80′s. (Started With Affirmative Action Loan) Trust Me, Advertising People Haven’t Changed, She Was UpAgainst Some Real BS. Forcing Stereotypes Was (And Continues To Be) The Norm. THANK YOU For This Post, But The Credit Belongs To The Agency, Not Legos.

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  • Heather

    I have young kids under 6 and they play with Lego and love the girl legos. They love to first try to make like like on the box and then on it is their own creation. They love the little bows the very very small circle type ones get all stacked up and become a wand or a pole or some other finishing touches to the house they built. I find “girl” lego has more details, more finishing touches and the animals are appealing to my children.

  • Heather

    For two of my children they appreciate Lego — the building up from bricks while my other child likes something like Playmobile which is more about getting straight to the creative side of story telling and playing and less about building. I can see how some of the newer lego is trying to fill both of these niches and types of children.

  • James Way

    I think the problem here is just parents, not companies like Legos. Places like ToysRUs and Walmart don’t make the decision on where to house goods all willy-nilly; they base it on demographic and trend studies. They notice that parents were going done the boys aisle to look for the legos or the doctor kits and when they couldn’t find it they asked for help. They noticed that when they came in with their little girl they only cared for the barbies, the baby dolls and the princess dresses. They’re in it to make as much money and as fast as possible, so if putting the doctors’ kits in the boys aisle and the homemaker kits in the girls’ aisle gets you spending your money quicker, then they will do it. Then again as the ad so eloquently and frequently put it, children have not changed, people have changed, read it as grownups. The child does not care what aisle you picked up the toys from, they’ll enjoy it nonetheless, especially if you are very involved with their playtime. I’ve seen little girls that play with star wars toys and little boys that play with hair braiding kits (though they get it done to them more than they do the braiding) and they love it, because their parent(s) are playing with them and they care not for what toy it is if they are enjoying it with their parents. There is were the other problem lies, and probably the source of the former issue, is that parents want to buy their kids a toy, give it to them, and have them pay alone and hopefully not get bothered by them. My godson is 3 years old and does not talk but other than baby babble and occasional single syllabic words that are more onomatopoeia than actual words; planes are “wooo” and gestured with the hand. His father works 2 jobs to support the family, though he makes enough with one but the wife wants luxuries she is unwilling to work for, the wife works 4 days a month (per diem) as and LPN and honestly I have no clues what she does the other 26 days of the month. I do know one this she does do, park her kid in front of Shaun the Sheep (a silent claymation show for kids) and not help foster his cognitive development. Now as god father I have felt bad, because I’ll be honest I don’t want a retarded (word is correct, he is delayed, er retarded, in his cognitive development) kid myself and I have given them plenty of toys and tools to foster his intellectual growth, but there is no tool that takes the role of the parent in rearing. Stuff like Leapfrogs, musical instruments, easels and artistic equipment that are meant to foster growth, but that still require a parent to well be a parent. That has not happened. The problem I face is only but one of many out there. The companies see all this and profit from it, but just like the alcoholic won’t admit it alcoholism, the bad parent won’t admit it either. They cannot see their flaws, even though everyone else can and some of them get richer from it.

  • Zietfront

    Disney changed things. Princess culture is the worst thing to happen to girls ever.

    • Noel Wood

      “Princess culture is the worst thing to happen to girls ever.”

      Yes. Female circumcision, forced labor, body shaming, sex trafficking… they all pale in comparison to Disney Princess culture.

      Do us all a favor and please don’t ever leave your house.

      • Em

        Actually mr supposedly know it all, that kind of thinking ‘princess’ culture is the very reason why all that other horrible stuff you mentioned happens in the first place. Sexism. It breeds inequality and brainwashes everyone into adopting sick beliefs. Body shaming comes from girls being brainwashed from childhood that they are supposed to model themselves after what the media/pop culture is feeding them. Girls are supposed to be nothing but simpering scantily clad accessories for a man’s satisfaction, while men pursue things and get respect that we will never have unless we say, enough!

        • I LOVE LAMP

          “Actually mr supposedly know it all, that kind of thinking ‘princess’
          culture is the very reason why all that other horrible stuff you
          mentioned happens in the first place”

          No.

          Just. No.

          For the love of all that is sacred and holy, oh my Yeezus no.

          Go visit a third world country and see how women are treated. Then come back to the comparatively palatial estate you live in, with your running water and electricity and readily available health care and access to a public forum and free speech and more information than you’ll ever physically be able to consume and where girls are allowed and encouraged to be whatever they want to be (whether that be a doctor, congresswoman, lawyer, or – gasp – a princess), and kindly understand that anyone stating that a company making money from little girls (and boys too!) wanting to wear frilly pink things and hold star-shaped wands is nearly as bad as systematically forcing young girls barely old enough to even understand what sex is to abandon their families to please people against their will essentially looks like the biggest jackass on the face of the planet.

          I really wish we could tax stupidity.

          I’m pretty goddamned sure that the sex trade in Africa and Muslim women being forced to cover their bodies didn’t start because little girls in those countries saw Princess Jasmine and Belle in a movie. But then again, I’ve read a book or two and not just some screeds written by ignorant people on the internet.

          • Em

            Don’t you DARE belittle the experience of women in ANY country by trying to say that it is worse elsewhere. Of course there are things in other places that people won’t have to go through here, but there are still very horrible things that they do! You are demeaning every woman on the planet by making such statements. You are the one that is insanely stupid and offensive. Women here get raped, in HUGE numbers, and it isn’t even a crime, people get away with it, and there is a huge rape culture on the RISE. These are not criminals hiding in some bush, but just ordinary ‘nice’ guys that are brainwashed into mistreating women. It is increasing seen as a good thing that women are treated as objects, just for men’s pleasure. I have seen over the years violence towards women as commonplace skyrocket in the west. WE DO NOT Have freedom, it is continuously taken away from us. We are not encouraged to do anything! Of course, being a man, you cannot see this, because YOU are privileged and have things we will never have! It’s an entire society that is built upon the control and oppression of women. We get paid less, we get significantly more violence. We can’t walk down the street without getting harassed or danger of getting attacked at night. We can’t stand our ground, or we are a bossy ‘bitch’. We can’t enjoy things that guys do without being a butch ‘dyke’ that isn’t ‘girly’ enough. A woman can get fired in America for being ‘too attractive’ and tempting a man. We are told whatever bad things happen to us, we ‘asked’ for it for daring to be female. We are told that if a guy leaves us, it’s because we aren’t desirable enough, and there are too many hot girls competing with us, and we served our purpose, so now we are worthless. t is degrading, and soul destroying, and leads to low self esteem, depression, and lack of ambition in life. Are you really that naive??? Women in the west also experience FGM, and domestic violence. We experience more poverty and homelessness, and get abandoned for getting pregnant. Your pathetic comments about frilly pink outfits is just a distraction. The list goes on and on and I repeat- Do not you DARE to demean our experiences of oppression and abuse by comparing other countries. This is a world wide battle of sexism and abuse.

          • Em

            ‘I’m pretty goddamned sure that the sex trade in Africa and Muslim women being forced to cover their bodies didn’t start because little girls in those countries saw Princess Jasmine and Belle in a movie.’ And yes the hell it does contribute to it! It is the idea that women are to be a certain way, (how men TELL women they are supposed to be) that leads to their oppression the world over. We are not people, we are just there for men to use us. You are INSANE. You do realise that FGM exists because the men say women are not supposed to enjoy sex, only men are, and for a woman to is obscene to them. Because we are just supposed to be accessories, and produce babies, and the men dictate everything to us. It is the SAME mentality there as it is here. The idea that men control women.

          • Noel Wood

            …and none of that has anything to do with Disney Princesses. Fantasy stories about mermaids and monsters and swords and sorcery don’t exist because of the idea that “men control women.” They exist because people like stories of adventure and romance, and companies like Disney capitalize on that. I’m pretty sure that at no single board meeting for the Walt Disney company in history did the CEO and board of directors sit around coming up with ways to oppress half the global human population.

            Stop trivializing real world issues that actually lead to suffering and death by associating them with children being allowed to play dress-up and using their imaginations, and instead focus on real issues in the world. Maybe, just maybe, the world will get a little better. Typing out an unreadable wall of text on a two month-old blog article is nothing but slacktivism. But, hey, it guess it gives you a warm fuzzy inside, and I’m certainly not in the business of taking that away from you.

          • Em

            Wow, the ignorance is ASTOUNDING. But then, I don’t know why I am surprised. You just don’t get it, which is typical. It IS NOT about fairy tales and dress up. (which actually is harmless and fine obviously) As this article points out, and you can research this online also, over the years, things aimed at girls has gotten massively dumbed down and sexualised. Did you not read the bit about how women are expected to be simply simpering, scantily clad accessories for men? Yes, that is EXACTLY what this all teaches girls and they are brainwashed growing up believing that it is their only value. You think that doesn’t lead to suffering and abuse? You’re insane. It certainly does. You, like the other commentator, not only fail to see this, but hypocritically end up doing the very thing you mention yourself- trivialising real world issues. Yeah, it isn’t real to you, because you’re not the one being told you have to be someone’s object. That is what YOU are doing, not me. You are also brainwashed, and are unable to see this. You are also not a woman, and therefore it doesn’t happen to you, and therefore you think it doesn’t exist. If you have girls of your own, you undoubtedly don’t see the damage these things do, because you also believe that women are only supposed to shut up, look pretty and bat their eyes sweetly. Certainly, one having an opinion like me, really rubs you the wrong way, because I’m stepping outside of the boundaries that you would have us all stuck in. Keep women in their place right? If you are outspoken then you are a crazy b****, and no one wants to hear the truth. Typical.

          • Noel Wood

            I’ll reply to you in proper when you stop pretending to know anything about me other than a few comments and an avatar. Until then, I’ll just leave your strawman argument (which, three generations of posts later, *still* has nothing to do with Disney Princesses!) up there so that other people can realize how irrational your entire argument is.

          • Em

            Look who’s talking, mr making all kinds of assumptions about me. Hypocrisy rules on here apparently! You find yourself obviously very witty, which is pretty amusing. If you don’t see the association with girls being told they need to be vapid, pretty idiots, and being bombarded with sexist images all their lives- which princesses is part of, which ties into this article about how it did not used to be such a big problem in society back then, but it has grown to be that way, then that is not my problem. That is your inability to see the obvious. I wouldn’t advertise that you are unable to grasp simple concepts.

          • Noel Wood

            “Look who’s talking, mr making all kinds of assumptions about me.”

            Name one.

          • Em
          • Em
          • Em

            And this, not princesses, but exactly the same concept-

            http://momjovi.com/2011/08/dear-marketers-stop-dumbing-down-my-daughter/

          • Em
          • Em

            the idea that women are only supposed to smile and look pretty and NOT BE ANYTHING OF VALUE! Oh boy, you got me really damn angry! grrrrrr contributing towards the oppression of women.

  • Mike Pascuzzi

    why is everyone acting like we can’t still buy crappy basic lego buckets? lego is making more money than ever…girls want girl colors and boys want things geared to them like the super hero sets.

    the only people bothered by this are the ones who realize their son may be gay when he wants the pink set,and you dont want to be judged in line at toys r us…just order online

    and there is nothing wrong with building a predesigned lego set…its like a puzzle that becomes an awesome toy…imagination is great, but in the end 80′s lego always usually became a terrible house for my real toys, and sometimes a car unless my mom vacuumed up my damn wheels

    • J Wilson

      and true its way over priced – £6 for a handful of bricks at the shop. Much better to source it second hand and then you might also get the old interesting house building lego

  • Yarnoven

    Why can’t there be pink or purple bricks added into the regular Lego brick sets for those who happen to enjoy the color pink or purple? Boys AND girls. If we are going to bash the Friends line for segregated play, then I feel this is a valid question to ask.

  • J Wilson

    Completely true. What I really miss is the general house making lego (not in pink !) but in house colours. Our children play with the old version of this that their gran still has. but surely this would be popular – design a house etc with boys and girls ?

    And yes even tea sets, cash registers etc – all toys my boys played with, are now all in pink so they are unlikely to want to play with them.
    So actually that goes against boys too.

  • Ria Carius

    I played LEGO till I was around 10 and that was in the 90s.

    All I remember was that it was so joyful to see my dad put them together and play as it is. I didn’t disassemble them as I found the sets to be too beautiful.

    The only “free style” LEGO building I had was getting those general blocks from McDonalds Happy Meal back in the early 90s.

    Seeing how this talk about building following instructions and what not, I’m of the opinion that as a new comer to LEGO, especially if you get those set boxes, the instructions will be helpful since it allows you to build up the basic skills and at the same time, in your mind, it slowly helps you to create the product mentally. It also helps you to see how the parts can go together. It’s basically the same as plastic modelling. Albeit without the colouring stage of plastic modelling

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  • Bill Nugent

    Ahh, Such a shame, despite playing well as a child Giordano ended up being a practitioner of pseudo-scientific BS. Let’s hope Yulo’s daughter fares better.

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  • subnerdo

    hot

  • Anony-mouse

    When lego makes a product and specifically targets girls with it = SEXISM!

    When Huffpost writes an article and specifically targets women with it = FEMINISM!

    What’s surprising is that Huffpost is acting surprised that ANYTHING mildly ‘feminist’ gets a ridiculous amount of attention on the net. The danger is that the messages and attitudes are completely out of whack, like most internet feminism. It’s total ignorance. Ignorance about what drives marketing and what goes on in reality and how children are affected by all this.

    Now, here’s the real truth I see, and not just the ‘internet feminists’ slant, who this article and all other related articles are obviously pandering to:

    A – In 1981 this girl was considered a ‘Tomboy’. A type of girl that was more comfortable playing with boys and their toys. Lego was obviously marketing to this ‘type’ of child, which makes sense, because in the 80s lego was seen as a boy’s toy. This is absolutely ‘marketing to girls’ in the only way lego understood that they could. They didn’t try to fool themselves into thinking they could get a slice of the My LIttle Pony market or the Rainbow Brite market…they basically told the girls who already played with their stuff, “hey, buy more. We like you”.

    B – Lego later went on to build pink and girly legos AS A DIRECT RESULT OF THIS AD!!!! They realized that many girls like to build too, and what was stopping some girls from playing with legos was the idea ‘that it was for boys’, so they built girl legos. And more girls played with legos. And lego got richer. Sexism? NO. Capitalism, YES. How many girls would never have played with lego if it wasn’t for the girly ones?

    C – People who see this as some type of feminist gendering victory that we’ve since taken a step back from, need to reevaluate and question their logic. IS the ad working on you? Is the cute little girl getting to you? Then the AD IS WORKING, 33 years later, and the marketing still works!! That’s the danger, MARKETING!!! Not how we market to children but that WE STILL MARKET TO CHILDREN!!!!!!!

    My god I can’t say this enough. Internet feminists are so self-absorbed that they put themselves and their views BEFORE THOSE OF CHILDREN!!!!! One of the reasons I can never support modern feminism. Seriously ladies, get your shit together.

    One last thing,

    Marketing purposely appeals to the tastes of their target markets they spend billions of dollars figuring this out with focus testing, research etc. Why feminists believe that marketers are somehow the gatekeepers of what is culturally relevant baffles me. Again, ignorance. Mad Men is a fictional TV series, and things don’t work that way in reality, they probably didn’t even work like that in the 1960s. Tell me you understand what ‘fictional plot and characters’ means. Marketing capitalizes on ALREADY EXISTING TRENDS, they don’t create them.

    DIg a little deeper and you realize that unregulated capitalism is the real culprit destroying our values and equality, but to do that you have to admit that the problems transcend feminism, and are human problems, that would mean you have to give back your angry feminist card…and really…who are you without it? An individual with unique beliefs and opinions?

  • Anony-mouse

    Oh man. And for the record, Yulo’s daughter isn’t playing with legos, she’s playing with lego-knock offs.

    That’s what’s going on behind the curtain of this supposedly forward-thinking article ladies. Lies. Lies to manipulate your thoughts and emotions, just like marketing, just like lego and barbie try to do to little girls. Just like GI Joe and Transformers did to me when I was a little boy.

    Where is the real content?

    I’m staring at a before and after, half-naked girl in lingerie as I type this interestingly enough.

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  • Rebecca Hachmyer

    Thank you for this article! Do you happen to have a source for the Montessori quote? I am having a hard time tracking it down….

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  • Melissa Garr

    Here’s an interesting flip side to this, for boys… the colors of blocks available in the Lego friends sets aren’t available in the regular Lego sets. You either have to buy those blocks individually, or buy one of these ridiculous sets to get colors like pink, purple and aquamarine. Just as girls are being limited to these colors and scenarios, my son is told that his world doesn’t include pink, purple and aquamarine, which is, in my opinion, equally damaging. And God forbid he should walk around with a Lego Friends cruise ship or talk about how much he enjoyed building one; I have literally heard people tell him, “but that’s a toy for girls!” like it’s any of their business.

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  • gidolf

    Great story and all; I, too, am annoyed with the decisions the LEGO company has been taking over the last decades.

    But please – PLEASE! – stop saying & writing “LEGOs” .. as if one of the little coloured building blocks were “one LEGO”. LEGO is the name of the toy, in its entirety.

    You’re not saying “Yesterday I had rices for lunch” either, do you?

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  • Jon Burns

    AAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH IT’s LEGO ! L E G O WITHOUT AN ‘S’!!! phwew sorry had to get that out. So buy your daughter ‘boys’ Lego if that’s what she wants. And, I think teaching your kids that they can express themselves and that adverts aren’t real people is more worthy of your time than making an issue of pink Lego on the internet. If you’ve got the time and energy to get annoyed about this – lucky you! Forced conformity is terrible I know, but too much ‘neutrality’ and we’ll all be expressionless homogenous droid-clones in half a century.

  • Litaliscous

    It is said that the children haven’t changed, the people who market to them have…..isn’t the same children who were growing up in the 80′s when toys were more gender neutral the ones who are now the adults doing the marketing? What happened to them? Why isn’t this value being carried through to the next generations?

    • Em

      Because we live in a super sexist world in which everyone is brainwashed to a disturbing level. People don’t even know what normal is anymore.

  • Anonymous

    The funniest thing about this is that Giordano calls herself a “physician” and co-owner of “medical” clinics- like she has somehow made it in the man’s world of science and medicine. Naturopathic medicine is about as scientific as the magic spells in the Disney stories she must certainly abhor. What a sad hypocrite :(

    • Em

      That is the biggest load of s*** I’ve ever heard in my life.

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  • LaurieAC

    Very sad that the harm to boys of toy companies giving special attention to girls but not to boys isn’t addressed. I wrote a post, “The Gender Politics of Toys, Part II: Shunning Boys and Turning Lego Pink” that discusses how our sons are harmed by toy companies that focus on girls but have walked away from and have even shunned association with boys.

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  • Seth Muscarella

    We’ve definitely changed based on the second “then & now” in that now kids have to play with the lame giant legos instead of the good ones from back in the day.

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  • elle542

    There are a lot of opinions here but I’m just going to provide my own experience with purchasing Lego for my two young nieces. Almost all toy sections within stores are predominantly categorised into age ranges and within that – toys are split into a “boys” section and a “girls” section (or vice versa). Children see it because each section has packaging that predominantly displays female children or male children. The “girls” section is most likely filled with pink packaging whilst the “boys” section has isles that are filled with darker coloured packaging. I recall LEGO from my childhood being solely primary colours, with very little pre-built and recognising both boys and girls on the packaging.

    Today, I see in the “girls” section LEGO with the colours pink, purple and white. In the “boys” black, blue and grey. Boys are bombarded with superheroes and pirates that they build from the floor up whilst girls are provided a number of pre-built items that are aimed at shopping, riding horses, beauty. When it comes to “community” LEGO I found it very difficult to have an equal amount of female and male LEGO people from varying careers. Many careers are represented by male LEGO people. Representation is important within life and within children’s toys. If you’re of the belief that representation isn’t important you’ve either always been represented (which many in the comments have) or aren’t in the minority desiring representation. In the end, I purchased one of the few gender neutral LEGO sets. From there I went to eBay and continued to build on the set finding community people from various careers… although it was and still is difficult to find female LEGO people from varying careers. I ended up with a community road mat which my nieces love and supports their LEGO play. They have a petrol station on the mat, a school, bank, hospital, police station, beach, roads, houses. Their LEGO has the role of supporting them in constructing whatever their imagination desires during the play.

    Regardless, it takes active thinking to construct the resources today whilst when I was younger my mum purchased a huge LEGO box complete with people and small community items for my brother and myself to simply kick-off our play. Also, it’s not just LEGO that do the whole gender stereotyping within toys. If stores can make whole isles out of gender targeted toys then clearly many companies do and it’s the decision of parents and carers to actively be aware of it in order to provide their children with choice during play.

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  • Wolverine

    I remember when you could buy a big bucket of bricks! Now their small and more expencive. I’m 38 years old and still Love and Play with my legos. Yes I put them together first with instructions just to see if I can do it then I tear it apart. There are only a handful of models I haven’t broken apart after I built them basically because I needed them to still be together. My Tractor for instance. I grew up on a farm and I love the tractor and can’t bring myself to tear it apart. I do wish as a small child I hadn’t have lost all my legos out in the yard. Many were eaten by the Lawn Mower LOL! XD I really want to invest in the legos you can buy off Ebay. Huge Loads of them for cheap.

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  • Karen Gravelle

    Fisher Price is another guilty company. Their toys use to be pretty much gender neutral. Boy was I shocked to find a pink telephone, pink doctor’s kit etc. Bring back the classics and don’t buy the pink stuff. I bought as much gender neutral stuff for my daughter as I could

  • Randoman

    All these comments and discussion, are tops. I completely agree with how nowadays you’re more encouraged to just buy and build a set with instructions; even though personally I do feel like the child would choose to create original creations as well.

    That being said, it’s a bit sad that that’s the main issue the majority has been focusing on, rather than the lego’s being gendered for a newer generation. Perhaps that factors into how your children want to create their masterpieces. It should be open source creativity, not creativity for “only if you’re a little girl you can use this pink block.” Or ” Boys only care about what’s in the boy aisle.” Please people.

    This sort of thing is dangerous. And it is my firm belief that everyone has the right to choose. Like the article said, it should pander toward creativity not gender.

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  • jduby

    As a girl, I played with legos that looked just like Giordano’s. Now I am an architect.

  • Marie

    These articles are utter nonsense!! If you want to buy a “pink” toy, then buy it. If you want to buy a “blue” toy, then buy it!! There are no police at the register stopping you from buying a specific color based on the gender of the child you are buying it for. There is no law preventing you from buying any specific toy for any child. There are also no “boy isles.” If you want to buy your daughter the action figure, then buy it!!!

    These articles are just implying that parents are weak and can’t think for themselves!!

    Why did they have to make a “blue” easy bake oven for the sister who wanted to buy one for her brother? Why not just buy him any one that was already available, even if it was pink? No! Instead there is a big issue made of it, and the company then made a blue one.

    Who is the one that is really sexist? I say the parents because they are the ones calling it “boy” and “girl” toys, and “boy” and “girl” isles!! I buy my sons what they are interested in, and don’t care what others think! It’s called having a mind of your own!!

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  • Doran O’Donnell

    Okay, Women are still complaining that products are advertised to them using sexist stereotypes,. but boys have even more pressure to conform. Boys caught playing with a hairstyle set will be ridiculed by other boys whereas girls who play with trucks will not. Women still dress boys in blue and girls in pink. Women still put their girls into pageants, and Women still treat their boys different from their girls with respect to behavior. I personally know LOTS of women who treat their kids totally stereotypically. Blaming marketers for marketing products differently for men and women dismisses the fact that the marketing of products in this manner works. Boys are pressed to be rugged (and not mama’s boys) whereas girls are given a choice. Strange how it is still women who are complaining about toys geared towards girls when the girls have more power to behave the way they want.

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  • Erin

    The thing that strikes me most about the 1981 ad, especially knowing the backstory now, is the look of pride on her face. Look at what she built! There was no right or wrong way to use the Lego in 1981. It’s true what she says about toys that have already got an established purpose before you even open the box. The open ended play is gone and really, as I can observe in my own children, it is a lot of angst and frustration about getting it ‘right’.

    The sexism in toy marketing concerns me also. But it’s interesting how making toys with a specific purpose, has changed the way kids feel when they play with them. It’s actually really sad.

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  • AnnoyedLegoFan

    Couldn’t read any further than “LEGOs”. There’s no “s” for the plural, when will America learn?

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  • carly

    My daughter is four and I have hunted high and low for lego similar to that I had as a child..not to be found anywhere! Lego seems to have shrunk to a ridiculous size and as someone else here said, it is bought in complete sets now which is very boring. The girls lego always seems to feature houses and Princesses. When I was a child I loved playing with lego, creating my own houses and other structures. I feel very sad generic lego is no longer available.

  • talonts

    I don’t have a problem with the Friends sets, in fact I LOVE them for some of the parts they have. And I’m a male AFOL. (I do, however, hate the fact that the Friends “minifigs” are anything but.)

    What pisses me off is that they segregate the Friends in the “girls toy section” in any store I have been in, usually an aisle or 3 from the “boys toy section”. PUT THEM IN THE SAME AISLE. Let the boys and girls have easy access to ALL lines of LEGO in one place. You’ll probably see what I see when visiting a LEGO store – boys and girls (of all ages) looking at ALL of the sets, and buying what they like, not what some ad person says they should like.

  • gerw

    It’s “LEGO” not “LEGOs”

  • Can’t change nature

    Lori, you overlooked something rather significant. Before corporations and advertisements, children played with what they wanted, and boys were boyish and girls were girly. Boys played fighting games, and with cars, trucks, etc, and girls played games about homemaking and being a mom. This is because of very natural and observable biological gender differences. After the 1960s people decided that gender was a social construct, so the ADULTS made these advertisements in alignment with their newfound “enlightened” ideology. The 1981 advertisement does not represent children in 1981, it represents the adults desire to prove that gender is a social construct. It’s not. This is why gender differences in preference of toys and in many other areas has remained stubbornly in existence to this day in spite of the many efforts to make it otherwise. Today companies are simply advertising to their target audiences in accordance with what they understand those audiences want, it’s not the other way around.

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  • Lego Lover!

    I think there are more than enough options out there. My baby sister (age 8) plays with all types of lego, both “gender specific” and “unisex”. I have a problem with saying either are bad. When given a choice, she typically pics Lego friends over other sets, which happens to be more directed to girls. She builds them the way they are prestructured, and when she’s done with that, she uses her vast collection of lego to build flying cars and triple decker airplanes that do things engineers are currently working on. Again, the child & their creativity hasn’t changed. It’s the adults who worry that there shouldn’t be gender specific marketing. Its also the adults that impose certain ways of thinking on children too. I think the plethora of toys is great, it offers many, many more options. Often times, we make the mistake of trying to equalize the two genders by assuming the male toy is the better toy, the male standard is the better standard, and by doing so, we actually lower the value of our girls and women. Instead, we should be pleased to see differences in toys, and actually, if my little sister were a brother instead and preferred Lego friends to Lego star wars, I’d be cool with that. Afterall, the Lego friends set has ADORABLE animals that even my 11 year old male cousin & his 4 year old brother loves!

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  • JimBob

    Ironically the people making the new adverts are the children the original advert was for.

  • Kyle Mutcher

    What gets me is that the main offering of Lego in many stores is a very gender neutral City Lego, and their Creator line. Located off to the side or at the end of the aisle is the “boy” Lego section of the different themes such as Bionicle etc, and a separate aisle for their movie themed sets. So by saying the creation in the second photo is made of “boy’s Lego” is BS, that came from the Beginner’s line of basic blocks near the Duplo, across from the more advanced sets in the City/Creator section. There is no “Gurls Keep Out” sign on that aisle. There is a variety of themes in that section that would appeal to all genders, a set that has a coffee shop and bicycle repair shop, a camper van with a male and female figure with a canoe, amongst others. but it seems like any capitalist company the products are going to cater to the community that buys them and there was a waiting community out there that started to buy the friends Lego sets when they arrived. (ABC News: Sales to girls up from 9% to 27% after introduction of friends)The gender neutral Lego hasn’t gone away, the friends is new, and an introduction to building blocks for a group that didn’t participate before but is now. When I was a kid, quite often there was sets that had both a male and female figure included, I had lots of both in my collection,still seems that way. The control panel that I got in my space themed Lego was a cash register later in a store I built, it was a weather radar screen, and a probably a computer in a bank I built. That pink brick set may free up a little girl or boy to have an imagination of their own apart from what the adults see. Why not get on the parents that buy the Friends Lego for their children, to reason with their children why its wrong to buy a pink brick instead of a blue brick.

  • Vampz

    I don’t see what the fuss is about, I feel like people are saying that girls can’t be girls and boys can’t be boys, they have to be gender neutral in everything. It’s ok for lego to make ninjago set but not ok for them to make a friends set? Why don’t we jut sell everything in a featureless black box with the set number on it, a title and a picture of the unassembled peices on the back. Lets just ban all advertising, then no one has to be any gender ever.

  • Wylda

    while i agree that lego’s increasingly gendered approach to marketing its toys to children is problematic, i find it equally problematic and offensive that so many critics of lego friends imply that girlier lego sets are bad for girls because they are styled in a manner that promotes traditional gender roles. what’s so wrong with being traditionally feminine or catering to girls who are? and why are stereotypical female interests like makeup and cupcakes looked down upon? i’m a female architecture student who also happens to be extremely girly, and i know for a fact that i would have loved to own a lego friends set growing up. i inherited my legos from my three older brothers, and while i had a lot of fun playing with them, i do remember feeling slightly dissatisfied with my playing experience because the colours of the blocks weren’t cute shades of pastel, the minifigs that accompanied my sets were all of boys that did not have more realistic features or nicer outfits, and there weren’t enough accessories like miniature furniture or food that i could use when play-acting scenes and stories with my minifigs. i actually read the research methodology that the lego design team used when the lego friends line was still in development, and they found that there was a significant number of girls who had play preferences similar to mine and deemed that that the number of girls who had those play preferences was high enough to financially justify the creation of a new product range. the way i see it, lego is actually making this kind of cognitive play more accessible to children, particularly girls who wouldn’t usually pick up a lego set from the toy shop because they aren’t attracted to its packaging or whatever other reason. while lego does need to be more gender-inclusive when promoting their more traditional product ranges such as lego city, there should also be room for lego to offer alternative options for children who have different tastes that are more traditionally gender-specific. giving girls a lego set of a beauty salon or cupcake shop isn’t going to doom them to a stepford wife-like existence. limiting their options exclusively to toys like lego friends and discouraging them from exploring other things will. blaming lego for trying to reach out to an untapped market of girls who have perfectly legitimate play preferences just seems so misguided to me.

  • Legoisnotevil

    Legos? It’s Lego.

  • dliblady

    there are times that i do go along with the “party lines,” parents who ask,”what’s wrong with pink?” This is because my daughter loves…no…LOVES pink. I’ve gotten her the “boy” legos and she loves them, but one day she just said out of the blue, “I wish I had some pink legos.” So I scoured the shopping sites and got her what I thought she would like, which turns out she just loves, and they’re not from the Lego Friends line but just a “kit” that we built together with a girl and horse stable. She now combines the two sets and is having fun creating her own designs.

  • Lynn Spann Bowditch

    explain to me why the h*** the people who grew up playing with the gender-neutral toys in the 80s became the people who create and market the gender-stereotyping toys of the 20teens? Same as the people who grew up in the “Earth Day” era of the 70s being those responsible for the state of pollution today. What is wrong with people?

  • Alison Piearcey

    Gender based lego does not ‘double profits’ It makes me less likely to buy lego for either niece or nephew, since neither need the message that girls only think of shoes or makeup. We can all discourage this kind of thing by not buying it.

  • JC

    My problem with modern Lego is the sets. Lego used to have sets that were their own. Not licensed products. I dunno, it just makes me sad.

  • Nathanael

    I can’t figure out why the toy companies are listening to sexist pig marketers. It’s not good for society, and it’s bad for the bottom line too.

    Pink and purple Lego? Great idea. We need it for the Star Wars sets! :-)

    Gender segregation in the toy aisle is unacceptable — and *stupid*. Way to cut off half your market.

  • joeymom

    I think a lot of these commenters need to see the LEGO movie. Seriously.

    As do the execs at LEGO.

  • Jesse Fortner

    The fault lies with marketing departments, yes, but also with parents who fell for it.

  • Katrina Anderson

    I don’[t have a problem with the “feminine” sets, with the exception of the minifigures. They are not the same. My 7 year old son said he would get a set if the minifigures were the regular kind. He wanted to intermatch with his Lego City line.

  • Greg

    Your penultimate sentence answers your final question. I guess it was rhetorical.

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