It was recently announced that Lego Friends has become the most popular of the Lego sets for girls. That should come as no surprise, given its stereotypically girl-oriented packaging. It is one of the few Lego sets that has packaging that features purple and pink, with females playing center stage on the outside of the package. However, what is perhaps more shocking is that it continues to be marketed specifically as one of the Lego sets for girls, when in reality, Lego is a toy that is designed for any gender.
According to Forbes contributor Samantha Ettus, the Lego girl was virtually non-existent until a few months ago. She noted that the Lego girl was very much similar to a Barbie and had a skirt she termed “microscopic” — so much so, in fact, that if a girl was wearing one while building Lego, she would not be able to kneel on the ground to build even one of the Lego sets for girls without her underwear showing.
Lego was once a brand name that was strictly about engineering rocketships, building stories, or constructing the tallest tower you possibly could. Ettus said that now, with toys continuing to be marketed specifically for girls and boys separately, it is small wonder that there continues to be a gap between men and women in the workplace.
Toys ‘R’ Us has recently worked on trying to make its website as gender neutral as possible and recently dropped the filter for boys or girls toys on its website. Businesses, including Lego, are doubtless feeling the pressure to go as gender neutral as possible.
That does not mean, however, that Lego sets for girls are any less popular. While Star Wars Lego sets dominated Black Friday shopping frenzies, according to Forbes, Lego Friends is equally popular this year with girls. There are also other Lego females that are quite popular. Though not technically part of the Lego sets for girls, the new video game Lego Dimensions features the strong female figure Wyldstyle from The Lego Movie, and Huffington Post Canada said that the game is a co-op adventure — like all of the Lego video games — that everyone could enjoy together.
As a whole, Lego sets for girls are marketed quite differently than the ones for boys. The focus of Lego Friends seems to revolve around caring for their cute pets, discovering what their personal theme songs are, and participating in a variety of scenarios where the characters are singing or discovering their fashion sense, according to the Lego Friends website. Gone is the focus on building, apparently, or on designing a fun vehicle, for instance. These Lego sets for girls feature cute girl cartoons, and they seem stereotypically girl-focused. While that is not a bad thing, it definitely encourages girls to look at fashion and singing rather than the simple art of building.
Lego’s intentions are good in trying to get more girls involved in their product by specifically marketing Lego sets for girls. However, it is important to realize that not every girl is into making themselves into a fashion plate or in becoming a singing superstar. There are many girls who love science, engineering, and math, and it is important to help the girls feel as though they are not unusual for their preferences. In marketing Lego sets for girls, Lego should also look at these girls who have a passion for the sciences. A look at fashionable clothes is all right, and many girls love science and art at the same time, but the cartoon version of these Lego sets for girls should not be so specific to those girls who fit the stereotypical mold.
[Image via Lego]