More than 30,000 people have signed an online petition on stating they don't support toy manufacturer LEGO's newest campaign, a line of toys called Friends made just for girls (an already gag-inducing phrase when it comes to marketing). Critics are calling it sexist because the line makes a break from LEGO's usual build-it-yourself aesthetic. Friends features pre-assembled sets that follow gender norms like a hair salon, fashion design studio, and cupcake bakery. Everyone from the Mountain Goats frontman John Darnielle to 5-year-old viral-video sensation Riley are protesting this line of toys, asking LEGO why they think girls don't want to build their own worlds too. 


The campaign was launched by Bailey Shoemaker Richards and Stephanie Cole, both 22-year-old activists with the group SPARK. “As a lifelong fan of LEGO, I want to see them remain true to their mission of inspiring all kids to think creatively and pioneer new ways to play,” said Bailey. “The Friends line fails in those regards, instead relying on stereotypical marketing ploys about what girls want. The overwhelming response to our campaign shows that LEGO’s four years of market research missed a large chunk of costumers. LEGO needs to work harder to create gender equity in their product lines and advertising in the future.”


Have you ever tried to buy a gift for a baby shower when the parents didn't know the gender of the child? It's near impossible! For every yellow blankie there are 10,000 pink or blue ones. LEGO isn't the first offender in this marketing binary game, rather the most recent, and people like Bailey and Stephanie are trying to put an end to it. “It would be easy to assume that this is just about LEGO, but it's part of a much larger marketing environment that puts the interests of girls, and boys, into stereotypical, limiting boxes,” said Stephanie.“The LEGO Friends line struck a nerve with me because it came from an unexpected place. This was a brand that always stood for creativity, and now they are reaching out to girls in the most unoriginal way imaginable.” 


LEGO comes from the Danish phrase leg godt which means "play-well", but it's clear that this newest line doesn't play well with consumers.  Just because the toys come in little boxes doesn't mean the children who play with them should be placed in the same. Go ahead and sign the petition if you agree that LEGO needs to reconsider Friends. What's the worst case of gender stereotyping you've seen in a toy? 

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Tags: gender , controversy , toys , LEGO