Girl From 1981 LEGO Ad Talks About LEGO’s Abandonment of Gender Neutrality

by Andrea Stopa

This 1981 LEGO ad featuring this adorable red head and a very feminist and very true message about children, creativity, and leaving the whole gender stereotype thing at the door, has recently blown up a lot of news feeds:

LEGO was selling “Universal Building Sets,” and saying specifically with this image that being a builder, creator, or inventor, is never gendered.  

Unfortunately, the reason this ad has resurfaced with a vengeance is because LEGO doesn’t seem to believe that so much anymore. Or they are just making loads of money after creating a girls-only LEGO world -LEGO Friends – that falls into all the traps of gender stereotyped toys. Needless to say, LEGO was catching some flack for turning their back on a very powerful message in support of gender neutrality in the toy market.

 Women You Should Know  recently interviewed the all-grown-up Rachel Giordano, to ask her how she’s seen things change since her appearance in the ad. 

The experience of being in the ad:

“On the day she went into the studio to make the 1981 LEGO ad, she was given a set of original LEGOs and an hour to play with them and make her own creation—it is what you see in the ad. (And those were her own clothes—the comfy jeans and blue striped t-shirt and sneakers without a hint of pink that she wore in off the street.)”

On the change in LEGO toys over the years:

“‘Toys are supposed to foster creativity. But nowadays, it seems that a lot more toys already have messages built into them before a child even opens the pink or blue package. In 1981, LEGOs were simple and gender-neutral, and the creativity of the child produced the message. In 2014, it’s the reverse: the toy delivers a message to the child, and this message is weirdly about gender.'”

Check out the full article here, which includes some great additional insight and commentary on LEGO’s backing out of gender-neutrality. 

Quotes from article by Lori Day, Contributor at Women You Should Know.

Thanks to Women You Should Know. 

Side-by-side image via Women You Should Know.


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