OWTK Toy News & Reviews / Parenting Blog

An Open Letter To LEGO Regarding Their New Friends (And An Offer)

**Update, March 2013: Like the line itself, my opinion of LEGO Friends has evolved. Read all about it here.**

Dear LEGO,

As an influential, trusted, and beloved toy brand, you possess the unique power to initiate change, to help build a better world, and to influence the construction of fantastic and highly original childhoods.  With that in mind, I ask you this: why do you not want girls to dream of something grander than being social?  Of being beauty-obsessed?

As you prepare to unveil your new girl-marketed LEGO Friends line of purple and pink building block playsets, I’d like you to think about something more than your bottom line for just a moment.  I’d like you to imagine the kind of impact LEGO Friends will have on young girls who already get bombarded each and every day with stereotypical, modern-day glass ceiling messages that they will eventually be slotted into professions and personality types that Western society deems appropriate for young women in the 21st century; those that involve laundry baskets, are located in the kitchen, have a baby nearby, take place gabbing on a phone, or in fuck-me boots behind a glittery microphone.

Here’s the disconnect, it’s nearly 2012.  And I’m fairly certain that women can in fact be scientists (and not just for cosmetics), doctors (and not just for animals), small business owners (and not just bakeries), and musicians (and not just as spotlight-hungry divas), although depictions of such possibilities rarely make it into toy catalogs or, it would seem, into your boardroom strategy sessions.

Of course, LEGO, it is not your job to instill in our children a confidence that they can become this, that or the other thing.  We know that this is part of our gig as parents, but continually showing young girls that their place is not over top a sheet of blueprints at a construction site or putting out a fire (be that a literal one or the metaphorical kind in professional office), but rather lounging poolside, picking out nail polish, or sipping a milkshake (which our marketing pals will later use to shame girls into feeling inadequate and to sell them products to cope with it), well that just isn’t making it easy on us.

Yeah, the new LEGO Friends sets include Olivia, the inventor of the group.  That’s sweet, and appreciated.  But she doesn’t compensate for the Disney Princess look and feel of the other 4.  I mean, shit, they even look like Ariel, Belle and the rest of ’em in the lineup shot.  Way to raise the bar on originality, LEGO.

Oh, one more thing before I let you get back to wedging the gap further between the genders.  Here’s an ad of yours from 1981. Did this bluejeans-wearing, beat-up sneaker-sporting little lady not sell quite enough of your Universal, unisex LEGO blocks to girls back then?

Now here is my offer to you, LEGO, because I’m more of a doer than a barker.  I want to work with you as an independent adviser.  I desire no wage, only the opportunity to honestly express the viewpoint of a father with a simple wish for his two young daughters, and for girls everywhere, to never be boxed in by media or merchandise.  I can’t guarantee that we will sell more widgets right away because the purple & pink brainwashing of young American females has developed some deep roots (that is why you are launching these particular Friends, is it not?) but over time I am confident that we can make a change, a real and positive one, and will be successful both profitably and socially.

You know where to reach me.

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