You will probably not be surprised to find that we love LEGO here at Apartment Therapy. It's a product that marries brilliant, high-quality design with many of the things parents look for in a toy: imaginative play, problem solving, and aesthetic experimentation. But we're not sure how we feel about the new line of "LEGO for girls." The internet is abuzz with the controversy: are LEGO Friends opening doors for girls' play, or boxing them into traditional gender stereotypes?If you haven't seen LEGO Friends yet, the line entails a major redesign of the much beloved LEGO Minifigure. Instead of the traditional shape, the new pieces have a more "feminine" look to them, or what the company calls "a more realistic, relatable and stylized figure." Compare:
The company claims that it researched heavily while designing this new line, noting that "thousands of girls and their mothers worldwide participated in intensive research that validated the desire for more beauty, realistic details, accessories and interior building and role play opportunities in a LEGO offering."
While the ostensible purpose for the new line is to create more opportunities for building imaginative worlds, the Friends' sets are all focused on five female characters who live and work in "Heartlake City." It's true that these sets feature both home and work environments, but the settings are limited to the quotidian and domestic. You won't find any space travel, fantastic creatures, or mythological adventures here.
So, we put it to you: Are the powers that be at LEGO simply reflecting what a girls' market demands? Or are they proscribing girls' play within the narrow idea of what constitutes a woman's realm?
Give us your thoughts in the comments!
• LEGO Friends on LEGO website
• "LEGO is for Girls" on Businessweek
• "Hey Anti-Lego Feminists, "Lego for Girls" Actually Kicks Ass" on Gizmodo