Fans of the well-known and well-loved toy line LEGO may not be pleased to hear that their latest building set made specifically for girls has been raising eyebrows because of what critics describe as offensive and stereotypical. The new building set line, called LEGO Friends, features a break from the brand’s traditional gender-neutral block-type characters, with slim, shapely and fashionable female figures. These figures have different jobs, including a designer, an inventor and a veterinarian. The building set allows players to create their own Butterfly Beauty Shop and a Fashion Designer Workshop.
Given the nature of the new toy line’s figures, many have commented that these promote a stereotype of how girls should be, and even encourages body dissatisfaction. Apart from that, even some organizations have gone so far as saying that it borders on being sexist.
Part of the line’s advertisement includes lines from one of the characters, Stephanie, saying, “New Lego Friends. Welcome to beautiful Heartlake City. I'm Stephanie. I'm going to a party at the new cafe with my new friend Olivia." "That's me. I just finished decorating my house. Time to chill with the girls."
Check out the commercial here:
Lyn Mikel Brown, an education professor and co-founder of a girl empowerment group, comments that these new characters, sporting pastel colors and enjoying activities such as getting makeovers, going to cafes or planning parties may be sending the wrong message to girls. It's as though there's only one way for girls to grow up, and it's to grow into this particular set of interests and patterns," Brown says. "And, in fact, those of us who work with girls know that's not true."
As a response to the gender-role controversy, an online petition was launched to urge LEGO to pull the line.
LEGO, which has been in the market since the 1950s, originally created its toys specifically for both boys and girls. But as the consumer trends evolved, the toy company started marketing its products almost exclusively to boys.
In an official statement, Mads Nipper, executive vice-president of the Denmark-based LEGO group, expressed, “We heard very clear requests from moms and girls for more details and interior building, a brighter color palette, a more realistic figure, role play opportunities and a story line that they would find interesting.”
Do you think that the new LEGO Friends Line for girls is offensive? Do you feel it’s boxing girls in the stereotype that they should act or grow up in the same manner that the characters behave? We’d love to know your thoughts. Leave a comment below.
• January 19, 2012. Susan Sharon. “New Lego Friends Line Sparks Gender-Role Controversy” mpbn.net
• January 23, 2012. “Lego’s new line for girls spawns controversy” abclocal.go.com
• January 26, 2012. Alexandra Sifferlin. “LEGO’s New ‘Friends’ Line for Girls: Offensive?” healthland.time.com