Are you still secretly five years old? Do you enjoy buying a cool toy every once in awhile? Are you frustrated at the lack of equal gendered-representation in the pink vs. blue toy world? If so, meet Dr. Ellen Kooijman and the people behind the #WeWantLeia campaign. Thanks to them, we have a few more fun, gender equal toys for kids and kids-at-heart.
Kooijman, a geochemist from Stockholm, has always loved the LEGO brand, but didn’t quite love the lack of stereotype-free female minifigures. To combat this unsettling trend, Kooijman developed a set of female scientist figures for the brand through LEGO Ideas. After garnering a significant amount of internet support, LEGO picked the project for production over many other popular submissions.
“It seemed logical that I would suggest a small set of female minifigures in interesting professions to make our Lego city communities more diverse,” Kooijiman states on her blog. By (hopefully!) August 2014, LEGO’s minifigures will better reflect the real world and its diverse array of female professionals.
Similarly, when The Walt Disney Company acquired the rights to the Star Wars franchise, it planned to release a set of Star Wars toys in its Disney stores, sans Princess Leia. People were understandably upset; Leia is a vital part of the saga, as well as a strong female character who has inspired many generations of women. Natalie Wreyford tweeted at the Disney Store, asking, “Why aren't there any Leia Dolls or Leia products available in Disney stores? My daughter really wants one.”
Disney replied, stating that there were "no plans for Leia products," which inspired the hashtag movement #WeWantLeia. After consistent pressure from Star Wars fans, Disney released the following statement to TIME magazine:
“The current assortment of Star Wars products at the Disney Store launched earlier this year and is just the beginning of what is to come. We’re excited to be rolling out new products in the coming months, including several items that will feature Princess Leia, one of the most iconic characters in the Star Wars galaxy.”
While the circumstances that resulted in Leia's inclusion at the Disney Store are less than ideal, the powerful internet community that pushed for her product release, including a number of feminist parents, increases hope that the company will create our favorite intergalactic rebel princess with an equitable hand.
Given the power and influence of the Internet, I seriously doubt this will be the only push for anti-stereotype toys. These products are necessary for teaching kids about "traditional" gender conventions, and enabling the next generation to finally break through the glass ceiling and disrupt the social prejudices our culture still holds.
Images via yakface.com, glamour.com, mwctoys.com, mg.co.za, fanpop.com