He knows me well. Holy mackerel. I don’t even know where to begin with this one.
As a small child, I had a huge amount of Lego, and loved it. Many happy hours were spent constructing unrecognisable structures and then, when I got a little older, more recognisable houses and hospitals and stables in which to house my Sylvanian Families’ ponies. There were also a few less-than happy hours spent standing on unseen pieces of the stuff and wailing blue murder when they caused irrational amounts of pain to a bare foot.
To enjoy it, all I needed was a box of the stuff and some considerable amount of floor space (and not to stand on the things).
I did categorically not need my Lego to be a specially designed range ‘for girls’, in pink and pastel shades. I didn’t need the figures to be ‘more girly’, with a much skinnier figure and breasts. I didn’t need the sets to be full of flowers, featuring a café, a beauty parlour, something that looks like a stage from X-Factor, a bakery, and a fashion designer’s studio. That there is a token ‘inventor’s workshop’ doesn’t cut the mustard, I’m afraid. Having one set that’s got a science bent isn’t a defence against the accusation that that whole shebang isn’t gobsmackingly patronising.
|One of the new all-girl Lego figures. Bleurgh.|
If the people at the top of the Lego tree felt that they needed to make their product more inclusive, why didn’t they feel that they could simply broaden their existing sets? Have a bakery – but have it in the original primary colours. Put female figures into the current Lego sets: I assure you, girls are more than capable of going into space. Just ask Helen Sharman.
And, whilst I’m up here on my soapbox: shame on you, Stylist magazine. For a publication which aims to appeal to intelligent women, you’ve dropped a clanger with that little write-up. No, the toys don’t “have an element of ‘girl power’ about them” – rather the opposite. Shame on you for buying into the marketing spin.
It’s not often that you can look backwards to find examples of more equal attitudes towards women and girls. But it looks like Lego hit their peak in 1981 with the wonderful ad below – because the current direction of travel definitely isn’t this palatable:
UPDATE: Having asked @Lego_Group on Twitter whether this new range might be considered patronising, I had the following response: They are core LEGO construction toys designed to optimize young girls' play preferences as revealed through four years of research. I'm not inclined to believe that's English, let alone an adequate argument. Ho hum.