Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Not my Lego friend

Today my daughter's long awaited copy of the Lego magazine arrived.
The only problem was the five doe eyed smiley girls on the cover. The Lego marketing team had flagged my daughter's gender and assumed she wanted the Lego friends version. Focus? School, pets, friends, baking. The pictures and text are bigger than those in the 'traditional' Lego stories, the themes blander.

When I was a kid all children wore orange and brown corduroy no matter what their gender and Lego came in standard red, blue and yellow. Black and white were novelties, I may have seen the odd bit of green. Then at some point they began to make kits and the genderisation of Lego began.

I bought her Lego long before her first birthday, first duplo then the stuff I remembered though the variety was bewildering; Harry Potter, City, Star Wars, Knights. So I went for a box of plain bricks and waited for her to create. And waited and waited...

Barbies, Sylvanians, Playmobile, Moxie Dolls. All preferable to the small bricks. So, Lego I get it. You see the lucrative female under ten market playing with these things and you want a share. I can just imagine the Board Meeting now. No matter that you live in one of the most gender progressive societies in the World, home of Birgitte Nyborg and Sara Lund. 'The little girls want pink and ponies. We must give them pink and ponies!'

Thus Lego Friends was born.

I don't mind the pink to be honest and I am pretty partial to purple. I don't even mind the beauty parlours and the dog grooming. I just mind how limiting this all is. I mind the larger pieces, the less taxing builds, the narrow focus on some kind of Clueless life. They could have been cleverer, less obvious and for opted for a more diverse Lego City - a city with more female characters, more animals, a focus on more than rescue services and vehicles by adding a whole High Street of shops that includes the beauty parlour but with the police station next door. A City for boys and girls no matter what their tastes. Cause right now girls are being told that the vast majority of Lego kits are not for them. And boys are steered away from anything domestic. It's unfair on both.

In the end all she needed was time. Eighteen months ago she discovered that small box. Now she's hooked asking for gothic castles and airships for Christmas, saving her birthday money. She couldn't wait to be part of the Lego Club. It's a shame the Club excludes her because of her gender.

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