Lego caused a huge uproar in January when it started selling its very girly Lego Friends sets. However, the Danish company just posted a 35 percent increase in profits for the first six months of 2012. Is this a setback in the fight against the sexualization of girls and in teaching girls that there’s a lot more to life than looking pretty in pink?
The creation of Lego Friends, after four years of ‘research,’ is a sad testament to the ongoing existence of gender stereotypes in our society. On the other hand, the world-wide support for Russian feminist punk collective Pussy Riot shows that girl power and grrl power are far from dead.
Lego Friends: Creativity Made, Safe, Pink and Pretty
Bursting with flowers, unicorns and hearts in pastels and including an outdoor bakery, a “butterfly beauty shop” and a “fashion design studio” — and with “Ladyfigs” who are complete with budding breasts and noticeably slimmer than the usual boxy Lego figures – the Lego Friends sets reinforce more gender stereotypes than I care to count.
Sure, there are plenty of toys from Barbies to Bratz that offer anatomically incorrect dolls and playsets focused on fashion and beauty. But Lego’s entry into the pink-saturated world of girl-centric toys was disappointing to many who had found pre-Lego Friends products perfectly fine toys for boys and girls. Nancy Gruver recalled how the basic primary-colored blocks stoked creativity in her daughters:
They built their own people from the basic red, green, blue and yellow pieces because those were all the colors there were and we didn’t have any people in our tub of pieces. This led to people with wheels for feet and people of all shapes and sizes.
Lego says they’re just giving girls what they want. The Los Angeles Times quotes Lego Chief Executive Jorgen Vig Knudstorp: “We’ve managed to make creative construction toys more relevant for girls – and we look forward to developing the product line further in the years ahead.”
Pussy Riot Rekindles Grrl Power
At the same time that Lego earned an extra $341.2 million on sales of Lego Friends, there’s been a resurgence of what you could call grrl power. Across the globe, people have joined to protest the two-year imprisonment of Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova for performing a brief “punk prayer” in Moscow’s Christ Our Savior church in February.
Photo by Tracheotomy Bob
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