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17 comments for “Nostalgia-inducing 1981 Lego ad features a girl but no stereotypical girliness

  1. youshouldtalk
    November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    That’s what YOU see…. Maybe it’s a building site with construction workers. Maybe it’s a moon base with astronauts. Maybe it’s a workshop.

  2. Nobody
    November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Men can build houses too.

  3. Amanda
    November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    When I first heard of the new “girly” lego, I rolled my eyes so hard, and even wrote a passive aggressive Facebook status update about it, as I was so annoyed by it. My 6 year old daughter had other ideas though. She now has 2 of these sets, and loves them. Yeah, it’s lame, but it still has the same basic principles of lego, and is teaching her a love of building and imagination.

  4. Nobody
    November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Excellent link. Thanks.

  5. AStev
    November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Considering she built a house and a happy couple, it actually *is* stereotypical girliness. But the good kind.

  6. Mike A
    November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    What really steams me is that all the work is done for the kids with the new lego sets. Before, all that was available was bricks and wheels. Now, it’s mostly prefabricated stuff that can really only be one thing.

  7. Terra
    November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    With a kid’s perspective, I agree with you COMPLETELY. I’m a teenager and I hate following all the picky-picky rules of building these lego sets…my brother and I just lurk on Ebay looking for big lots of random bricks. That’s when we start really building.

  8. Jay
    November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I’ve read that kids used to have mostly unisex playclothes and babyclothes before the two parent income, and even more so, further back in time. For example;”Scout” in To Kill a Mockingbird.

  9. Anon
    November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Drivel.

  10. catalunalilith
    November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    seconded

  11. Billybob
    November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    What it is Is boyness.

  12. Nobody
    November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    The last paragraph, and particularly the last sentence, is the opposite of drivel.

  13. Lulu
    November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    My now 17 yo dd plans to go into sustainable architecture. You’d think lego would have been her favorite toy as a child. But NO. She has waited her entire life for lego to get girls. They never have ( and this ad illustrates it beautifully) and they apparently never will. Girls are not boys in dresses. Girls are not driven by put-your-teeth-on-edge-screaming-Barbie-pink and plastic cube shaped figures with harsh makeup to “feminize” them. Girls approach life ( and play) differently. That is why their girl based sets have never sold well. Just like they have in this ad, they’ve tried to take a boy’s toy and redress it, when what is needed is restructuring. Girls love to build – but they don’t do so in the linear fashion boys do.Some basic facts that would help lego, and also people shopping for and caring for small children:It is part of normal childhood development for boys and girls to discover they are one (or the other) sex about the time they turn three. Then they celebrate that fact like there’s no tomorrow for several years, unless someone comes along and interferes. This process is misunderstood by too many adults, with the result that kids end up being forced into a role of their parent’s ( or ad man)’s design, instead of growing up as nature intended – which is the only way they will be happy. A now famous example is of Sonny and Cher dressing their daughter Chastity like a gilded lily. We now know that Chas, as he is now known, never saw himself as female. I think loads of people saw that back then too ( I know I did – the child’s obvious discomfort always saddened me). This ad man did just the opposite. Lego wanted a girl who didn’t look ‘girly’. In fact, what they really wanted is for there to be twice as many boys in the world (to increase their market) and no girls at all. It’s not just the ad – it’s their toy design and marketing. Because they simply do not get girls – not even well enough to hire one to do the design. My hunch is that lego is like Hershey, a company I once did work on an ad for. Hershey is so conservative that the item we were advertising – a kiss with an almond in it – was considered highly controversial. Hershey didn’t stick their neck out and do daring things like putting almonds in chocolate. Believe it or not, it was shocking to them at the time.Some girls like dresses and others like jeans. But, unless they are an extreme rarity like Chas Bono, between the ages of 3-7, they want those clothes to look like GIRL clothes. Later they will loosen up, but not at this important identity formong age.By the same token, they think like girls. There’s nothing inferior about this, and when people try to dress girls as if their gender doesn’t matter, it infers there is.My dd and I have talked about lego before and we think we know what would make legos work for our gender. For starters, bringing Fabuland to the US would be terrific. Fabuland is legos in the form of a town peopled by animals. It’s not a kit, but a freeform set like traditional legos are. They have a story and they interact, the way dolls do. The cube shapes work with their animal bodies much better than with human bodies. Girls don’t want to build from a kit, so this set works for them. They want parts they can put together in various ways and change later. Build a basic house, but add on. Join two houses together. Make some shops, etc.Personally, I think the kit concept is a large part of the problem lego has with marketing to girls, but the fault there lies with parents, who usually prefer the kits, because they don’t get loose legos strewn around. Kids build the thing once and set it on a shelf, and there are no loose parts to lie around. I’ve overheard parents in stores telling kids they can’t have legos because they consider them messy. But then, last week I overheard a mom telling her 8 yo son he couldn’t jump in a national park. Not much a toy company can do about parents who don’t want their children to experience childhood.

  14. Tink
    November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I wasn’t a fan of sets, too. Spend ages building the thing then you can’t use the stuff again. I much preferred building whatever was in my imagination (a house! No, a palace! No, a board game! No, a tiger!), keeping it as long as it appealed, then building something new again. The fact they can become anything was the fun!Plus, let’s be honest, most parents hate or don’t have the time to help out with kits, and a lot of the kits are quite fiddly for smaller kids. I imagine most parents bought toys that they imagine would require least effort (whether cleaning, putting together, keeping in one piece) and entertain kids for the longest.

  15. Jason
    November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    You should have seen my sisters play with Erector sets. Linearly. Drivel, indeed!

  16. ultradawn
    November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am
  17. Tink
    November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    ‘Some girls like dresses and others like jeans. But, unless they are an extreme rarity like Chas Bono, between the ages of 3-7, they want those clothes to look like GIRL clothes. Later they will loosen up, but not at this important identity formong age.’Um, honestly, there’s nothing innate about the clothes girls choose to like at that (or any age). We get our concept of identity from the world around us – this includes how other children dress, how our parents dress, and how all the children at school or on TV act. I’m sure that if all girls were shown dressed as green parrots in all adverts, and everyone around them implicitly supported this ideal as much as people accept the idea of pink princesses, the newest crop of girls would think green was the girliest colour in the world and want to dress up as parrots. Kids want what people tell them kids should want, and they live with what they get. A child isn’t born with an innate idea that girls shouldn’t play in the mud and boys shouldn’t play with pink dolls, but boy do they learn pretty quickly what other people approve of them doing!Has it ever occurred to you that girls might be put off by kits because they tend to be centred around things that are traditionally advertised (and seen by parents) to be very masculine? Looking at advertising and the kinds of toys parents buy for their kids and each others, it’s clear there’s a pressure for girls to like what other girls like – we like to believe that they make decisions independently, but they are under a lot of peer pressure from other children, advertising and their parents (who decide what to pay for or keep). Boys are expected to like sports, Star wars, comic book heroes, etc, they actually get even less choice than girls in how they dress or what they are given to play with. If you’re a boy who doesn’t like any of those things (I’ve known a fair few of them, and no, that doesn’t ‘make’ you gay), the market doesn’t really cater to you.My parents bought me all sorts of toys, both ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ toys, including the blocks and the science kits . My sister’s favourite toys were cars (and she wasn’t even a tomboy)and my brother liked dolls. I didn’t resent ‘girly’ toys as a kid, but I did resent the way many things just weren’t seen as things girls should play with.

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