10 Year Old Girl tells Lego they are a piece of the fault. Lego says it’s her.

A letter from Callie, age 10, to Lego Company. Dated January 5, 2012:

Dear Lego Company,

Rosalind Elsie Franklin, Lise Meitner, and Grace Murray Hopper. Do you think those great women scientists spent time playing with vintage style dressing rooms when they were girls? Do you think they decided to sit and look at a girl brushing her hair? No. They would be walking in museums, reading, conducting experiments, researching, and doing creative thinking. Legos are a great way to do the latter and I congratulate you on that. Legos are amazing and a great idea. They’re fun, brain building and easy to use. But when you turn them into a stereotypical toy, that’s just destroying the individuality so many people have been working for. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for blacks and whites to be equal. Today people are fighting for the equality of gay people. Susan B. Anthony and Gloria Steinem were fighting for women’s equality. And when I walk into a toy store and an attendant leads me to an aisle plastered with putrid pink I think you just swept all those people fighting for equality out of the way and ignored what they said.

Generalizing is saying any group of people is all one way, or likes one thing. Even if it’s complimentary, saying a group of people is all the same is just not true. Every person is unique and has a spark, different likes and dislikes, and faults of their own. You must respect that.   

There are plenty of smart and creative girls out there eager to play with Legos. Do you want that to be ruined, by giving them only a beauty salon to create? Please don’t. But I’m not proclaiming you should stop making those products, because they make generalizations about girls. But why just give us one option? There are plenty of girls ready to play with your ‘girl’s’ Legos. Plenty eager to pretend to comb hair and such. But then the girls who want superhero toys or adventure toys or dinosaurs or space toys or Harry Potter toys or Egyptian toys are forced to go to the boy’s aisle. They shouldn’t have to do that. Are you saying toys they want are for boys only? It’s not right to make a girl feel like she’s not acting like a girl should or is different. Are boys the only people who can do constructive things? No! But forcing a girl to go to the boy’s aisle, making her feel like she shouldn’t use Legos that aren’t pink and girly is just plain stupid. Why don’t you even have a boy’s category on your website? Are you saying boys can play with everything they want, unlike girls who have pink beauty salons? You have a girl science lab Lego set, yet it’s still pink and calls the things included “accessories”. The other themes, such as Ninjago call them staffs, or weapons. So even girl science lab appliances are called the same girly thing as jewelry. Why do that? To make money? That really makes me feel so much better about the world I live in.

And there’s another thing that makes me more secure about today’s lifestyle. If the girl  does go to the boy’s aisle what meets her eyes is the sight of war. Legos you can use that create a war scene, or spies shooting at each other or a spaceship with guns to shoot aliens. Does this seem right? Do we need more war in our bloodstained world? It gives kids the idea that war is funny or nothing to be worried about. Movies surround us with people fighting each other with powers and guns. Little boys like my cousin see people getting blown up, but then just singed or bouncing. Getting hit with lasers and just looking wounded but then reviving quickly or pretending to be dead than sneaking up on the bad guy because they missed. This isn’t real life. Many people have died in war, families torn apart, torturings of innocent people and betrayal driven by fear. This is war. Children need to understand that.

You say, ‘I’m just making a living. The kids like it, it’s not your fault the world isn’t perfect and they don’t understand it. Or that some girls feel like they’re weird or that they should be making beauty salons instead of whatever they feel like.’ But it is in a way. You’re just a piece of the fault. You are a part of that thought growing in a kid’s mind about how they should be and what to think. Make it be the right idea. Please. Make a kid’s world a little less narrow-minded and stereotypical. Make some of it right.

Callie W., age 10

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lego’s response, about two weeks following Callie’s Letter:

Dear Callie,

Thank you for writing to us with your concerns about the design of our LEGO (R) Friends product line.

We listened very carefully to what girls around the world told us in four years of concept development for LEGO Friends: and we’ve used their input to create a theme that invites girl who appreciate these qualities to the LEGO building experience.

Many girls told us they had trouble identifying with the LEGO minifigure’s unrealistic appearance. As role play is central to the LEGO Friends experience we designed a figure with a more realistic appearance. While we understand that this theme is out of the norm for LEGO as, like you said, we are a gender neutral company. We feel it’s a step in the right direction to get girls more involved with LEGO products. Sadly, over the year, many of our girl fans have diminished and moved onto toys that appeal to them. For this reason, we decided to conduct studies with children in this age group. We found that little girls really enjoyed having male and female minifigures in their sets, while the little boys would take the girl minifigure out before playing. Boys tend to like to create “good guy versus bay guy” types of scenes, while girls enjoy role play, such as going shopping with their minifigures.

If you would like, Callie, you can take a look at our recent official press release in regards to our new Friends line. It may be something that you’re interested in. If you visit Aboutus.LEGO.com and click on Press Room and then Corporate News, you will be able to view our recent press release. I hope that this is of interest to you.

We appreciate you taking the time to share you thoughts and concerns with us. Listening to what our fans have to say helps us improve our current and future products, so I’ve passed your comments on to our design team.

Thank you again for contacting us………

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lego – Girls left your company because you stopped making gender neutral toys, and focused on boys and movies licenses. You pushed girls out. Girls didn’t lost an interest in building, they lost in interest in a boy-centric company. You gendered your toy, not little girls.

Lego – Little girls don’t go shopping with their friends. They are little girls with wild imaginations and a sense of adventure. You gave them beauty shops and cupcake bakeries. Science laboratories do not come with accessories, they come with science equipment and tools.

Lego – You are correct, Friends is out of the norm for Lego. Why do girls need out of the norm Lego? Why do girls need a different version?

Comments

  1. While I completely agree with the sentiment of Callie’s letter, one hundred thousand percent, I can’t help but remark that, for a 10-year old, she has a remarkable vocabulary and sentence construction…

    • I agree, and it is clear she had adult help. But Lego’s response to her is atrocious. I feel like a human Roman candle. Shooting skyward and exploding NOW. LEGOS, do not tell a girl who tells you she wants adventure that what she really wants is shopping!

    • Clearly Callie is very bright and articulate.

      • Yes she is! Hope you did not misunderstand my comment. Some ten year olds can write very, very well. If this letter came off a bit more polished than seems plausible, she probably had a little help to make it as good as it could be because she wanted to present her argument as well as possible. She clearly put a lot of work into it. The point is, she deserved better from Lego, and should not be dismissed by them! Many parents help their kids with things–it’s how they receive coaching and learn. The focus should not be on this, but on how hard she worked and how unfair Lego’s response was.

    • 4th Grade Teacher says:

      I teach 4th Grade. I have several 9 and 10 year old girls who can write this well without any assistance.

      • Thank you.

      • “I have several 9 and 10 year old girls who can write this well without any assistance”

        No boys, though. That’s a strange remark to find on a blog about sexist toys.

        • I remember writing this well at that age, and I don’t remember many of the boys doing so, though the next class below had some great boy writers in that bracket the next year. I was able to see how the other students in the combined class wrote as our teachers had us exchange papers at grading time as an effort to help those that needed to see how other students wrote. However, I do believe this teacher only mentioned the girls because of the fact the letter was written by a girl.

  2. It doesn’t even sound like they read her letter (which was so smart and well written). They are just regurgitating their initial justification of this product. Sad.

  3. Dear Callie: Girls like you ROCK!!

    Dear Lego,

    Yeah, you totally missed the point. You pushed out girls and focused on boys, violence and movies.

    Let me tell you what my two girls role play as:
    Museum curator
    Airport Supervisor
    Airplane Pilot
    Engineer
    Farmer
    Ambassador
    Explorer
    Archeologist
    Dinosaurs
    Park Ranger

    Yes, they do also pretend with dress up and fashion. But that’s because they are well rounded. NORMAL. Typical is not the same as normal.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    • AMEN.

      • Lesley W. says:

        Hi, Callie’s mom here. She asked me for some suggestions on names of scientists to include in the first sentence, but the rest was totally her own work.The only help she had from me was correcting grammar and spelling mistakes. Honest!

        She has complained to me MANY times but how uninspiring the “girl” aisle at our local toy store is, so when we saw the “LEGO Friends” display, I suggested she write and tell them how she felt. So she did.

    • Role play for my son (5): hairdresser, paleontologist, museum curator, teacher, chef, dinosaur, rock star.
      Role play for my daughter (2): chef, train engineer, dinosaurs, rock star, and mommy.

      I guess my kids aren’t “normal”, LEGO. You lose!

  4. SuperBonBon says:

    Soooo, let me see if I have this correct….
    Little boys would often throw aside the female figures before playing with the set. Little girls like sets with both male and female figures. The response is to remove female figures completely from sets, thereby alienating 1/2 of all children? Why not just leave the female figures in the sets and allow children of either gender to choose which figures they would like to play with? This response doesn’t add up, it doesn’t make sense that they would completely overhaul their marketing strategy simply because boys prefer male figures over female figures.

    • I agree. This is one more way that the media and marketing world allows the male preference to dominate. IF that is even truly the male preference. I know several little boys who would not toss aside any lego figure. My love for Lego is severely tarnished.

    • I have to admit that I was also rather confused about that. Is that what they did – removed the girl figures? Makes no sense to me. I have more to say, but will make the reply below as this was a reply to that specific comment.

  5. LEGO really seems to be missing the point that it is their fault they lost the girl market. Girls didn’t just leave, they got pushed out. Ironic that ads from the early 80s are so much less sexist than the ads of today. Their marketing dept. needs a huge overhaul.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    I am a stay at home mom of 2 boys, 5 and 7. I do not have a daughter. I have PhD in inorganic chemistry.

    Fact…Boys are hardwired very differently from girls, just as men are hardwired differently from women. Myth….boys are “smart like dad” while girls are “pretty like mom.”

    My boys do not like tea parties, dolls, princesses, or playing house. They like ninjas, motorcycles, superheroes, rocks and dirt, nerf guns and throwing tennis balls for grenades.

    While I dislike that Lego provides only a salon experience for girls, their marketing for the majority of boys seems dead-on.

    • Elizabeth, just because your boys like that stuff does not mean that ALL boys or even most boys like that stuff. Surely you wouldn’t trust a scientific study with a sample size of 2, would you?

      • “Surely you wouldn’t trust a scientific study with a sample size of 2, would you?”

        Yet Callie is a sample size of one. Go figure.

        • M –
          Callie’s letter is being represented as something of an Op/Ed, not a scientific study. Her words were shared as an opinion representing a group of girls and parents, not a statement on how all people belonging to a specific gender act and think. Go figure.

    • Elizabeth,

      Boys and girls BECOME hardwired differently through different experiences. The brain strengthens connections that get used more and lets less-used connections wither and die. As in the case of a child born in one country and adopted out of country after they learn the language who then forgets their first language.

      Pigtail Pals is fighting to let girls and boys choose which connections they want to strengthen rather than letting marketers tell them what is appropriate to develop.

      Lego could easily make boy and girl minifigs by just having interchangeable hair, as they do in the “educational” sets. When Lego started partnering with the movie companies, they adopted their splitting of the market. They also gave up the creativity inherent in their non-lit sets.

      • Great comment, Alexa!

        Did you see this from Reel Girl? Lends exactly to what you were saying: http://margotmagowan.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/lego-posts-sneak-peek-of-lord-of-the-rings-minifigs-girls-gone-missing/

        • To be fair, the minifigs included in this particular set appear to be the 9 characters sent on the fellowship, who were all male. It would have been kind of weird for them to cut one of these characters in order to include a more-sideline female character, and there’s probably a limit to the number of minifigs they want to include in any one pack.

          Blame Tolkien (although it seems sort of pointless, seeing as he’s dead AND also since he wrote some seriously kick-ass female characters — they just weren’t central to the plot).

          Yuh-oh, my nerd is showing…sorry about that.

          • You are most welcome to be a nerd here ;)

            I understand that this isn’t just Lego, although they do have control over who they choose to license with. They choose movies that are almost all-male casts, and/or highly geared towards boys.

            The blame lies with Hollywood as well, who frequently leaves girls absent from film, or gives them miniscule roles. The blog Reel Girl covers this extensively, as does, the Geena Davis Institute for Gender in the Media and the documentary “Miss Representation”, to name a few.

    • I’m a work at home mom who home schools a six year old boy and a three year old girl. My son’s prized possessions: his baby doll, Frank; his kitchen; his tea set; his Legos; and, his tap shoes. He loves baseball Octonauts, dinosaurs, books of all kinds, science, cooking, and so on. My daughter loves Wedgits (beyond reason; she would sleep with them if she could). She plays with her brother’s cast off Duplos and is eying his Legos.

      My point: boys like what they like until society tells them they shouldn’t like it. Three times this year my son has said he thinks he should quit dance because boys don’t dance. Every time, my husband and I have taken him seriously, but asked if he likes to dance.mthe answer has always been yes. Then we ask if he should do what he wants to do or what other boys do, and he decides to keep dancing.

      People who tell him, as you are, that he is supposed to like specific things are part of the reason he has self-doubt AT SIX. He should be able to trust his instincts and do what he likes to do. AND so should his sister.

  7. This 10-year old has written the BEST response to the stupid Lego Friends line that I have read so far! What an incredibly bright girl she is. Kudos to her mom for raising her in a way that she felt empowered to articulate those thoughts. And SHAME on Lego for their horribly lame response…”girls like shopping”…UGH!

  8. I’ve been meaning to write about these “girly” legos myself for a while, but this eloquent 10-yr-old seems to have superseded me (and good for her). I have very mixed feelings about the new line. While I LOATHE the pink and purple and hot tubs and hair salons, I do just want some girls to put down their Bratz and give Legos a chance. I know some girls who play archeologist and marine biologist and engineer, but I know far more who won’t look at anything unless it is pepto-pink and sparkley. Is this nature, marketing, or their parents? I don’t know. I have a boy who loves Legos, lives and breathes them, but none of the girls he used to play with will touch them. They don’t want to be ninjas, they want to be pop stars. {sigh}

    I applaud Callie. Perhaps she can be a toy company CEO someday and keep changing the world.

  9. REnae Ward says:

    I have a son and two daughters. It is easier for them to play with all toys because they are in the house. For those people who only have one gender children, it is easy to make the assumption that your children are not into that stuff when it is likely they have not had it in the house as normal. There is 16mths between my son and daughter and my son has a slightly more interest in cars and trains and my daughter has slightly more interest in role play, but all toys are played with. In one day we will go from babies to trains to dress-ups. I doubt they would be as interested if it wasn’t there to play with. As a preschool teacher , everyday boisterous boys played in home corner freely donning heels, skirts and handling babies. Given the chance they usually get right into it possibly because they don’t play with it at home. I applaud Callie’s letter and hope that in time Lego will come around.

  10. My 7 year old daughter recieved 2 sets of the new Lego Friends for a birthday present this past weekend. She played with them for about 30 minutes, then lost interest and moved on to something else.

    My 3 year old son loves them on the other hand.

    Stick that in your genderized pipe and smoke it Lego.

  11. Callie: You rock, little sister!
    This is an amazing letter! You are super articulate, and not just for a 10-year-old. I used to teach English at a local college and many of the young men and women there couldn’t put together a letter as well written as this one. I mean that sincerely. You presented your case very logically and sensibly, and you made your point and stuck to it.

    I also love that you are smart enough to see what Lego is doing, and that you are confident enough to call them on their wrong-headedness. I hope you continue to do stuff like this, even if the companies don’t get what you’re saying. You give me hope for your generation and the ones come after.

    Callie’s mom–you are doing something right and I hope you’re really proud of your daughter. She is full of awesome!

  12. I don’t think Lego’s letter is in any way bad. They basically said how they came to the decision. They did market study and it shows that majority of the girls want something different from Callie. There is nothing wrong with girls wanting to role play and take mini figure shopping. There is also nothing wrong with girls wanting to pretend to be a scientist. And I’m saying this as a female engineer. I am the minority. If a toy company caters to my needs, they’ll most likely go under. Lego is already one of the few companies that manage to make educational toys fun (regardless of the whole movie affiliation. Lego is still a wonderful toy). However if enough little girls complain about this, maybe Lego will change their product line. After all, it is a business.

  13. Nice, Callie! Way to go! I also wrote to Lego; their response was similarly disappointing. Oh, well. When we are old enough we too can change the world!

    http://margotmagowan.wordpress.com/2012/01/04/letter-from-14-yr-old-girl-to-lego

    • Hi Ann!!
      I remember reading your letter on the Reel Girl blog and was just blown away by you. Why is Lego not hiring girls like you and Callie to help them right this wrong!? I am so deeply proud of you both. We need more girls like you and Callie in this world. Never stop using your voices.

      And stay full of awesome!

  14. You know, since every Lego response has been to promote the fact that they did “market research” as the basis for the girls’ sets, again I am left wondering: why aren’t they publishing any of the research findings? Why haven’t they shown video of the girls playing with the Legos and noting what they said while playing? Why haven’t they provided transcripts of the play experiences? Psychologists do this all the time in their research with children, and yet we see nothing from Lego. It almost makes me want to do my own trial, recruiting several hundred girls between the ages of 3 and 10, and writing about how they characterize their Lego experiences. It’s a good idea, you know- to have an independent researcher look into this to find out what girls REALLY think. The Lego response here was, yet again, another major Lego FAIL. Ugh.

  15. Nothing like a condescending letter poorly written. Callie’s writing is far superior to that of this LEGO employee. I love her. I used to write similar letters to companies when I was a girl, and the responses were always super disappointing, and often came along with a “free gift”– some useless crap with the company logo on it, as if I would really want to walk around doing free promotion for a company I disagreed with. Seriously, look at this sentence: “Sadly, over the year [year???], many of our girl fans have diminished…” MANY of them have DIMINISHED? That sounds like some kind of terrible shrinking epidemic. Dumb dumb dumb. But Bravo dear Callie! You’re awesome!

  16. While I disagree with some of the marketing that is out there to all kids (one of the reasons why I do not and will not purchase certain clothing and toys for my DD), I do have to take issue with the term used above “right this wrong” in regards to the LEGO Friends line and the pink LEGO marketed to girls. FTR, my child was not dressed in pink as a baby / toddler and had a variety of toys available (and still does), however, she is drawn to role play, pink stuff, LEGO Friends, etc. In fact, the only reason she wanted to play T-Ball (and likes it) is because she could have a pink helmet, bat, mitt, cleats, and ball. So, the availability of pink expanded her horizons. She chose her love of pink and role playing toys all on her own. So, do her choices become a “wrong” to be “righted”? Does the fact that she likes the LEGO Friends (and we will be purchasing it very soon as a matter of fact) make her choice wrong? She has no interest in the other LEGO sets and I am thrilled that the pink, girly stuff, actually got her interested in LEGO. Were it not available she would not have been interested, however she has spent the majority of the last 3 months playing with it (pink LEGOs and is dying for the Friends stuff). She loves the fact that the sets come with directions and has no interest in a random set of bricks with no instructions whatsoever. Her interests are varied, believe me, and she has never been steered to any one thing, however pink is her toy / color of choice. So no, I don’t find the new set bad at all, I’m glad that there is something in the LEGO line for children like mine as well. But I do feel that the choice of words like “right this wrong”, etc. ignores the wide variety of girls out there and, in fact, sends the message that there is something wrong with my child’s choices that needs to be righted. Also, if you go to a LEGO store, there are not “boys” and “girls” sections. The merchandise is arranged by product line, so kids are not steered in any one direction, they are free to choose any of the lines that strike their fancy. So yes, as the Mom of a bright 8 y.o. who knows exactly what she wants in toys, I will purchase the Friends line, and happily so. I have looked at the entire line and it’s more than shopping and cupcake making, BTW. It’s a neighborhood with homes and businesses so to categorize it as girls taking their mini-figs out to get their hair done or shop is a very narrowly focused criticism that ignores 75% of the line (and the price point is quite a bit lower than many of the other sets!).

    • You are making this about pink, the color. This issue at hand is really about Pink, the attitude, and limiting girls to a very narrow definition of “girly”. Just like you do in your comment. My daughter loves the ocean and has the Lego City Marina and some shark ship thing from the Atlantis set. Are her choices not “girly”? Is she not a girl?

      The wrong that needs to be righted is the limitation and marketing in this product. There are many different ways to be a girl. Lego only saw, mass produced, and marketed a very thin slice of it.

      Also, as the majority of the line focuses on beauty, home decorating, and pet care, I’m not sure where your pulling the comment about “ignoring 75% of the line”? That is about 85% of the line, with the exception of the Invention Lab and Treehouse (which I think are great, but small and easy to build). I would buy both of those for my daughter, who loves science and being outside. Those are her girly choices.

      • The reason that I mentioned pink was not to make this all about pink, it was to point out that the fact that pink versions of things like baseball equipment and LEGO being available is what expanded my DD’s options because she likes pink. I have seen a theme in this blog and some of the comments that the fact that items are specifically marketed to girls somehow limits their options and my argument is that the marketing actually expanded her options. Therefore, criticizing it (especially the comment to “right this wrong” from one of the posts) sends the message that there is something wrong in my child’s choices. Also, if you look at the line, which I have, there is more than just shopping and cupcakes and a beauty salon (which have female owners), that is only 3 parts of the Friends line. Since there are at least 12 separate pieces to this line, 3 pieces is only 25% of the line. And so what if it includes shopping and cupcakes, that is part of life. So is the person mowing the lawn, the car zipping by, the vet clinic, etc. And as I said before, by criticizing LEGO as harshly as has been done for daring to make and sell this, the message is sent that girls who like and want this type of toy are somehow being sold short rather than being given choices in toys and life which is what the aim of this blog is supposed to be. Just because some girls want the more elaborate sets does not mean that all girls (or most?) want those sets. Shouldn’t there be room in the LEGO line for those girls too without it being a “wrong that needs to be righted?” And, the “boy and girl aisles” of LEGO are taking place in toy stores and big box stores, not the LEGO store. So maybe the marketing issue should be taken up with those retailers. When I walk into a LEGO store I do not get a “boy side” or “girl side” message at all. The toys are strictly arranged by product lines. If having a line marketed to girls is a problem, is the Duplo line now a problem because those children are not being challenged enough because the sets are easier to put together? And before anyone jumps to any conclusions about my expectations for my DD, you need to know that she is a straight A student, reads several grade levels above her, swims, plays softball, and sings in the Choir. She comes from a long line of very educated women including a Grandmother with a Master’s Degree in Education, Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics (in the 50’s), an Aunt who is a PhD in Biochemistry, and a Mother with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. I do not expect less of her than anyone else, but I am also tired of the message that is being sent that somehow her choices will limit her because she enjoys LEGO, LEGO Friends, and the color pink. There is no “wrong to be righted” here.

        • Karen –
          You do not need to defend your daughter’s love of pink. I’m wearing a pink scarf around my neck as I type this. The color pink isn’t the issue. Limiting girls to pink and gender stereotypes is the issue. Pink and purple are not predominant colors in any of the other Lego sets, yet are in this one – both in product and marketing. I like the colors in the Friends sets. My daughter likes the colors in the Friends sets. There are some good components to the line. But the branding of the line clearly aligns with social gender constructs that this line is for girls. If this line is for girls, then the other lines that don’t look like this are for boys. If they other lines are for boys, and my daughter isn’t interested in the girls line, where does that leave her? THAT is the issue with such highly gendered marketing.

          You are absolutely correct, there should be room in Lego for a line like Friends. But to have that be marketed as specifically for girls, and have there be little room for girls in the other lines is a big problem. Karen, there is nothing wrong with what your daughter likes out of the Friends line, but Lego didn’t create the best product it could have for girls.

          But the issue here is that contrary to what you say, with 14 current pieces in the line, all but 3 focus on being pretty, making something pretty, or baking something pretty. Pretty pretty pretty. See here: http://shop.lego.com/en-US/Friends-ByTheme.
          If that is okay with you, and you don’t want more for your daughter, that is your perogative. I want more for my daugther than outdoor bakeries (WTH is that, anyway??) and cocktails poolside and Butterfly Beauty shops. I was 18yo the first time I went to a salon, to get my hair done for prom. I don’t need my 6yo concerned with life at the salon. She has the entire world to discover, and I don’t think the suburban domestic paradise of Heartlake City will hold her interest for very long. If the set also included a sailboat and a pickup truck with camping gear or farming equipment or rugged SUV with kayaks on top you wouldn’t hear me complaining so much.

          You also need to remember that Lego from the beginning has said this line is about a story. Pay close attention to the story they tell, and the one they don’t, in the commercials and on the website. When a toy comes with a prescripted story, it changes the way a kid plays with something. The stories behind these five Ladyfigs has little to do with being accomplished and talented and everything to do with being pretty and chillaxing with friends. There is no adventure, sports, STEM, or travel involved. Again, I want more for my daughter.

  17. I hardly think it’s pigeon-holing to do a market research study and do business based upon the results… It’s what all companies do, whether their target markets are male or female, adults or children, or any age in between. And at the end of the day, cynical as it may sound, Lego is simply interested in turning a profit. If that means they market pink and purple sparkly play sets to little girls — because thats what the results of their research tell them to do — and that makes them money (which is the point), then we can’t logically expect them to do differently. Business is business, and Lego would be stupid to do otherwise.

    • Leanne –
      Market research is smart, especially in this economy. I do market research before I launch products at Pigtail Pals. But market research isn’t the same as child developmental research. We’re talking about this over on our Facebook page right now (Thursday morning about 10:30am). Market research tells you what your focus group wants. Developmental research tells you what is best for the child. Lego confused the two, and tried to pass off it’s market research as scientific research about girls.

      I think we can logically expect an education-brain play based company to do better for our daughters. It would be so easy for them to do.
      I’d love for Lego to make a wildly successful line for girls and profit from it. And if Lego had dared to break away from the Barbie crowd, they could have shown the marketplace there is money to be made in selling girls smart and adventurous toys. But they didn’t do that. Not even close.

  18. Lesley W. says:

    Karen,

    Most kids and parents buy their LEGOS in big box stores, not the LEGO store. I agree that there is work to do with the stores themselves, (see the Spark Toy Aisle Project, http://www.sparksummit.com/2012/02/02/toy-aisle-action-project-lets-make-shoppers-think/)

    HOWEVER, the LEGO website now has a category called “Girls”, and if you click that you see almost nothing but the Friends on the first page. (it does include the Kingdom’s Joust and the Flying Dutchman). When I first saw the Girls category it contained ONLY the Friends; the fact that they’ve changed it is a hopeful sign. Still, it doesn’t include a lot of the more complicated building sets, the planes, trains etc. Take a look at what’ s in the “general” 5-6 year old range versus what’s in the “girls” sets for the same range.

    Why even have a category labeled “Girls”? Why not have a “Friends” category the way they have a “Ninajo” category, or a Harry Potter category? Why impose these limits on what girls are expected to like?

  19. do we underestimate the spirit of a child so much that we are that concerned with what a toy manufacturer does?

  20. Personally, I love pink and purple. I like all things frilly. When I was a kid I played with dollhouses. Why bring all that up here? Because I was a boy and boys apparently take the girl figure out before playing with their Legos.

    In her letter, Callie laments having to go “to the boys aisle” to get Legos. This fails to look from the other side … what about boys who have to go “to the girls aisle” to get what they want? Dollhouses, dolls, play sewing sets, and easy bake ovens are never found in the boys aisle. Yet there are some great male clothing designers and great male chefs.

    I will admit that my fascination with dollhouses was not always to make up stories to go with the “peoples” who lived in them. More often than not, my fascination was more to do with the miniature world itself – how I could build things to fit into it. My father did not want his son playing with dollhouses and forbade me, which broke my heart at about the age of 9. The solution was learning – much through my Mom – that I could make houses out of shoeboxes. I found scraps of carpet and leftover kitchen tile for the floors, leftover wallpaper for the walls – I had an entire apartment block dollhouse. lol I learned to fashion stairs from cardboard, and you should have seen some of the furniture I made. Especially the bookcases – I used candy wrappers folded up to look like books, and put a piece of plastic over the front to look like glass doors.

    When I go to museums today, any that have dollhouses or miniatures, I find I still have that fascination with miniature worlds. The Borrowers series was my favorite series of books. lol

    Today I am an adult. I can go to any aisle of the store I darn well feel like and nobody is going to look down on me. They may think I am shopping for my daughter though lol. They would be wrong. Twice I have been in the American Girl store in New York and had someone there completely misread why I was there. FYI I happen to have over 30 dolls of my own. I don’t have any children so I guess the dolls will have to do.

    Once at the American Girl store, I took my Samantha Doll to have her hair styled at the salon there. The girl working there started off asking things like, “What kind of style would she like,” etc. It wasn’t too long before I realized that when she said “she”, it was not in reference to the doll. “When will she pick her up?” I replied, “She?” The woman explained, “The owner of the doll?” To which, I just laughed lightly and said, “Oh. That… that would be ME….”

    This was after the Doll Hospital workers completely traumatized me by telling me that they don’t fix hair wigs, they exchange the head on the doll! My reply? “Not with MY doll you don’t!” My friend who was with me laughed forever about the horrified expression I got on my face! They did assure me that they don’t tell “real children” this. They mistakenly believed I’m not a child – my body matured, but my heart did not. And won’t.

    Like I said – I can go anywhere in a store I darn well please and nobody will think twice about it. I feel bad for little boys who can’t, and are led to feel like they should want G.I. Joe and Transformers – not Dollhouses and tea party sets.

  21. Sad to see how Lego treated the female demographic, and the sad attempts they’ve tried to get them back. Legos are such an iconic fun toy, everyone should be able to have the same fun playing with them.

  22. Most of my female friends dislike friends and/or pink stuff

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  1. […] The mom of 10 yr. old Callie emailed Melissa Wardy of Pigtail Pals her daughter’s letter to Lego. […]

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  3. […] blog post originally appeared on Pigtail Pals: Redefine Girly! with the title: “10 Year Old Girl tells Lego they are a piece of the fault. Lego says it’s […]

  4. […] They can start addressing all of their customers with respect. This means not telling a girl who is unhappy with this marketing that it’s her problem she doesn’t like the…. It means addressing and acknowledging the tens of thousands of customers who’ve signed petitions […]

  5. […] already black and white.  Please, for the love of all that is gender  neutral, listen to the little girls and boys who are writing to you and go back to the drawing board on this […]

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