LEGO Friends, the line of pink and purple LEGOs designed and marketed to girls, is frequently slammed in new media as an example of everything that is wrong with the gender stereotyping in toys. The most recent, in Huff Post parents, says the toys deliver a “weirdly gendered” message. I truly don’t believe in gender neutral toys. I think kids are going to play with what they want to play with.
BUT I am a fan and will defend LEGO Friends.
I didn’t want to be. The former feminist in me wanted to dislike them. I didn’t have pink and purple LEGOs and I had no problem playing with them. I loved them and we built whatever our imagination wanted. In general, I feel LEGOs have gotten a little boring with everything in kits and cross marketed to certain movies or themes. What happened to the big box of bricks you created with on your own? I would have rather had a box of those rather than LEGO friends.
BUT I am a fan and will defend LEGO Friends because I have a daughter that loves them.
Before you say “Of course she does! They’re marketed to her!” you should know that she does not watch commercial TV. In fact because she has a big brother who is obsessed with LEGO she’s much more likely to see the “regular” LEGO sets marketing through his LEGO club and other mailings. Before LEGO Friends was released, she was completely uninterested in LEGOs, building or following step-by-step instructions. She wanted none of that. She would happily play with Barbies, color, build with blocks or play with Play-Doh but we could not interest her in LEGOs at all. Not even the castles or houses.
I’m sure part of it was her brothers enthusiasm. LEGOs were his thing and even got her a box of pink and purple LEGOs (one of the few “free” building sets) and it sat mostly unplayed with. Since getting her LEGO Friends, she builds, with her brother, and on her own. She sets up entire scenes and plays with them. She and her brother work together to create worlds and their rides to school are filled with planning how they will execute it.
A LEGO kit sitting unplayed with can’t teach her about physics or building or anything. I’ll take pink and purple blocks, and stretched out mini figures any day, simply to watch her learn, grow and build.
So the critics and the feminists can keep shouting, I’m too busy building Heartlake High with my daughter to hear them.