Moms Are Mad As Hell At Lego, & For Good Reason

An unfortunate fact of our culture? It's full of gender stereotypes, even when it comes to children. Through playtime, young boys and girls are taught where their "correct" place is. Girls are nurses, boys are doctors. Girls are veterinarians, boys are firefighters. And, when a brand attempts to bridge that gap, it can either go really well or horribly wrong. Lego's "girl-centric" launch of Lego Friends — a pink and purple set of female Legos that love horses and "PJ parties" — is a little of column A, and a little of column B, as noted by New York Times columnist Sharon Holbrook

Holbrook had an uneasy truce with the toy, which got her daughter building and expanding her imagination, until the latest issue of the brand's Lego Magazine hit her mailbox. The issue had a column, dubbed "Emma's Beauty Tips," detailing which hairstyle is best for your face shape. That's when Holbrook's 7-year-old daughter came running to her asking whether or not her face was oval, because "oval faces can often have almost any style haircut because almost everything looks great on this face shape!" Why didn't she want a square face or a long face? Because square faces need cuts that "soften the edges," while a dreaded long face requires a snip to "help your face appear slightly shorter."

Did we mention that this magazine, and the products the articles are based on, are marketed to children ages 5 to 12? Needless to say, Holbrook was more than a little pissed.

The beauty industry is heavily focused on the idea of fixing things, which can, by our own admission, be problematic. We discuss face shapes, acne cures, anti-aging — solutions to help the "less-than-desirable" aspects of yourself magically transform so you're somehow happier with them. But, to be fair, most of the industry doesn't peddle this kind of information to toddlers and preteens. 

Toys, on the other hand, have a huge impact on young minds. Indeed, studies have shown that playtime is essential for healthy development. The toys we played with and the books we read weren't inconsequential — they were some of the earliest influences on us and our perceptions of the world. What does it say when we're telling 7-year-olds that they need to change their hair to compliment their faces? Introducing the idea that certain aspects need "fixing" at an early age is problematic; these little girls could grow up thinking that they're less than because they have heart-shaped faces. Not to mention this drivel is being targeted exclusively to little girls. Where are the tips for little boys on how to make the most of their face shapes? Little boys don't care about such things? Well, neither did little girls until someone started telling them they needed to.

It's flat out irresponsible on the part of Lego — who, at press time, had not returned our request for comment. Toy brands should not be programming young girls to be concerned with their looks. Let's face it — they're going to grow up in a society rife with gender stereotypes and narrow standards of beauty. If anything, their magazines and toys should serve as an escape from that. You can argue that these toys are fictional and shouldn't be taken seriously. But, as Holbrook's example shows, fiction can have real-life implications for how our children see themselves in this crazy, messy, mixed-up world we all find ourselves in.

Let's leave the beauty mandates out of our children's toys. Girls can be firefighters and doctors — and hold their heads high, whatever their face shape. 

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