Do Lego Friends promote stereotypic gender roles?

Do Lego Friends promote stereotypic gender roles?

She spends hours with them. Literally hours. And, apparently she is not alone.

Lego Friends have captured the heart of my daughter, as well as thousands of other school-aged girls across the country. In fact, the Lego Friends series has been a financial boom to the Lego corporation in just a few months.

The Friends series is essentially pastel colored building sets, ultimately creating items more traditionally thought of as “girly.” Doll houses. Convertible cars. Horse stables. Combined, the kits create a fantasy town named Heartlake, including numerous girl characters who live within the city limits.

The town of Heartlake begins at the building table, and continues to the reading chair. Lego Friends books tell the story of every female character; the girl’s interests, hobbies, skills, and family.

As a mom, I was genuinely excited that my daughter had taken interest in this series. For decades, Legos have been the building toy. And prior to Lego Friends, my daughter had ZERO interest. The traditional blue, red, and green blocks that built a car or boat were received with a sigh and a shrug. Ninjago? No thanks.

To my genuine surprise, however, put some pink and purple blocks on a table and she is all in – completely enraptured in the town of Heartlake with all the characters and drama she imagines.

She reads. She builds. She reads. She builds. She keeps her little brother out of her room so nothing gets “messed up.” She loves her Heartlake world.

Can you understand how I was crushed to find the very Legos my daughter loves have been under fire? One of the worst toys of the year? Petitions to stop sales?  An inexcusable attempt at sexist marketing that should put anyone who touches them to shame?

Oh, my.

I have to admit all the press made me stop and think. By allowing my daughter to play with Lego girls who ride horses or sit by the pool, am I promoting stereotypic gender roles? I assure you, that was not my intent. I was just excited to finally find a building toy she enjoyed.

By the making the blocks pink, does the ability to learn spacial reasoning, problem solving, and imagination disappear? Is a Lego building toy, not a Lego building toy?

I would never want to provide activities that would limit my daughter’s view of her potential. My husband and I praise and encourage many facets of her life, shining light on her many strengths and gifts. As she tinkers and plays, I would hope that my life example of motherhood, personal achievement, and citizenship outshines any sparkly jewel in a pastel colored plastic house.

But, maybe I’m just blinded by Heartlake city’s bright lights – just like Lego wants me to be.

Natasha Burgert is a pediatrician who blogs at KC Kids Doc.

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  • OkieShell

    I have my own issues with “pink-washing”, but as an IT Professional and a woman, hey, whatever gets young girls interested in being makers of things is good by me. My son (who will be 24 this week, ouch!) had me convinced that he would be an architectural engineer simply based on his obsession with Legos. Clearly he inherited some left brain tendencies as he ended up with a degree in Recording Arts and Music Production. Myself, I’m interested in architecture for the beauty of it, he was interested in building something, but it was a different “something” than what I expected. Neither is wrong, but feed the passion while remaining colorblind.

  • buzzkillerjsmith

    It’ll be OK, Dr. B. There a prominent voices in this country who think that little girls and little boys behave the way they do because they’ve been fooled by corporate propaganda. Some of those persons who believe this who comment here to refute me. But they’re wrong.
    This behavior has its roots in biology. Sure, the details differ by society, but in every society (even in the Nordic countries where they try to stamp it out), almost all little girls engage in girlish behavior and almost all little boys engage in boyish behavior. In time, those young ones grow up and engage in very important life behaviors together. It was, is, and shall be this way. People who look at the world clearly know this.

    Being female is normal human behavior. Let the girls be girls.
    You might be concerned about your child being primed to consume too much and this is a legitimate concern, but don’t be concerned her acting like a girl.

  • Guest

    “In fact, the Lego Friends series has been a financial boom to the Lego corporation”
    ——————————————————–

    I think you mean “financial boon”, not “financial boom”.

  • DavidBehar

    Feminism is to 2013 what the KKK was to 1913. It is a lawyer founded and run masking ideology, mostly based on hate. It is also racist. Reproductive rights is code for decreasing the fecundity of women from undesirable ethnic groups. Just as a KKK member who promoted his ideology to students should be removed, so should all feminists. There should be zero tolerance for this false, racist, hate filled ideology.

    The KKK had a business model. It lynched the rich. Took their assets and was legally immune for it genocidal campaign to pluynder the productive male. Today, feminist lawyers destroyd the black family. The resulting bastardy explains the disparity in the murder rate. It took the KKK 100 years to lynch 5000 victims. There is now an excess of 5000 black murders a year. The feminist has been 100 more effective at getting black people, especially males, killed than the KKK.

    • Guest

      Um….WHAT?

  • Sherene

    All this complaining about Lego Friends is so ridiculous. Why can’t girls like purple and pink, and do girly things? I realize there are girls who don’t like those colours and who don’t want to play with dolls or pretend to raise horses or whatever, and they can play with regular Lego. There are lots of choices. My daughter would never touch Lego before Friends came out.

  • May Wright

    My older daughter loves anything pink and sparkly, and right now is getting ready to serve pink lemonade in teacups to all her stuffed animals. My younger daughter is allergic to pink, won’t wear pastels, has appropriated her father’s ancient Meccano set, and is right now building a steam shovel excavator with it. Both brought up by the same parents, in the same home, with all the same opportunities. Go figure.