Lego hasn’t been cultivating a very feminist reputation over the last few years. They did create a popular set of female scientist minifigs last year, but only after they were voted for by the public (to make sure we really wanted to see LADIES actually DOING THINGS, perhaps).
Back in 2012, the company launched Lego Friends, a stereotypically girly range that revolved around a group of women who do very little – in contrast to their ranges aimed at boys, which are all about engineering and creativity. But don’t worry, Lego’s not only concerned with encouraging the idea that girls can’t achieve as much as boys. They’re also giving them beauty tips. Yay! I mean, no one wants to see an ugly five year old, am I right?
Sharon Holbrook wrote a piece yesterday for the New York Times parenting blog Motherlode about the new issue of Lego Club Magazine, which her seven year-old daughter likes to read. It has a section for girls called Emma’s Beauty Tips, which offers advice on the best haircuts for your face shape, including such gems as, ‘oval faces can often have almost any style haircut because almost everything looks great on this face shape’. (Has someone been raiding an ‘80s stash of Cosmopolitans for ideas?)
It’s pathetic enough when the media try to force beauty standards on grown women (how about I pick a haircut based on what I like, and everyone else minds their business), but in a magazine aimed at 5 to 12 year-olds, it’s abhorrent. As Holbrook writes, it’s creating insecurities where none existed before: ‘My little girl, the shape of her face, and whether her haircut is flattering are none of Lego’s concern. It wasn’t even her concern until a toy magazine told her to start worrying about it.’
And, to add insult to insult, of course there’s no equivalent section of the magazine telling boys how to make themselves look good. It’s yet another example of the idea that boys should play and have fun while girls should only focus on looking good.
It might not seem important, you might be tempted to say ‘Just don’t buy it then,’ but studies have shown that children are consistently told they’re bad at STEM and learn to opt out of those careers from an early age. Instead of perpetuating tired stereotypes, Lego has a chance to overturn them. It’s a shame they don’t seem to be interested.
Image via bnilsen’s Flickr.