In 1981, Ms. Magazine ran the ad, “What is Beautiful” for Lego, a gender neutral toy at the time. Fast forward twenty years and now the same company, once praised for their gender neutrality, is advertising legos speficically to girls, and apparently a particular idea of “girl”.
From the settings to the colors to the Lego figurine, Lego has played into classic steretypes of femininity. To their defense (?!), Lego isn’t the only company taking once gender neutral toys and marketing them to girls. I went to purchase grow-with-me roller skates for my almost 3 year old neice and was frustrated to discover that fisher-price only sells two pairs or skates, one for boys and one for girls. The boys skates are blue and green and the girls skates are pink and purple with the Barbie logo.
I kept googling and searching for another type of skate, in disbelief that the skate was only available in one color exclusively with the Barbie name and logo on it. To my dissapointment…that was it, one pink Barbie skate. So, I am pleased to say that my neice is now sporting “boys” skates (don’t know how my sister feels about that), but I just couldn’t bring myself to link barbie with roller skating?!
When did skill building toys, like Legos and roller skates, take on gender identities and what is the implication of that? Come to think of it, I had both the “jump it” and “skip it” toys during the early 90’s and both were hot pink. Odd that a jump rope toy would be marketed to girls when both boys and girls learn to jumprope.
I am about to have a girl. If she likes princesses, more power to her. I understand that children have natural inclinations for different toys, but when it comes to toys that all kids love, why are companies marketing them differently based on stereotypes of what a girl “should” like and what a “boy” should be into. And more importantly, what can we do about it?