People have told us “if you want your daughter to play with other LEGOs, buy them for her!” Those of us with daughters have and will. But this isn’t just about parents and their kids; it’s about all children. By age 2, children internalize the narrow messages about gender sent to them by culture and media. By age 5, they’re concerned with expressing those roles as best as they can. These internalized expectations follow them through their lives: research shows that exposure to stereotypical notions of gender in media can affect girls’ and women’s performance in math, and discourages girls and women from stepping outside the perceived bounds of femininity.
In other words, even kids who will never own a LEGO set in their lives are absorbing the messaging of this hyper-gendered marketing campaign. When girls see commercial after commercial of other girls hanging out by the pool, doing their hair, cruising in their convertible, and playing with animals, they begin to think that those are they ways they’re supposed to play; that those are the things they’re supposed to do now and in the future. Meanwhile, toys marketed to boys—including pretty much any LEGO that isn’t part of the Friends line—send a much healthier message that boys can be anything: cops, spacemen, pirates, kings, city workers, engineers, presidents.
We want LEGO, who by their own mission are “not about products, but … human possibility,” to really think about the messages their current marketing is sending. We want pastel colors, cupcakes, robots, and wizards to live side by side in the most fantastical adventures that kids can think of. We want boys and girls to play together with a variety of toys in a variety of colors, not separately with different versions of the same product."