So when the CCFC (Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood) came out with this year’s most controversial toys list naming one of my daughters’ favorite toys, I felt compelled to respond. ‘LEGO Friends’, I feel, has been getting a harsh rap and I have to believe that their intentions are good – creating a line of LEGO-friendly products that attract girls to use their visual-spacial building skills that are so needed in the areas of math, science and engineering.
The issues that surround advertising of products and the targeted gender has long been discussed, researched and debated. It’s big business. What has also been so often explored is why girls shy away from the maths, sciences, and engineering careers. I believe that often, our girls are given toys that do not fully engage right brain development. Girls tend to be verbal and creative creatures that love to use their imagination. Walk into any toy store and you’ll find rows of toy babies, dolls, houses, and other colorful plastic figurines that can be moved around and tell stories with. As fun as these are (and yes, we have some of these toys too) they do not encourage critical thinking and spatial-awareness skills.
I love LEGO. My girls love LEGO. And if they were given the choice, they would choose the opportunity to build their own creative world, rather than the pre-formed one that comes out of a box. LEGO has always had a prominent place in our house and until recently we purposefully only owned the primary color sets of blocks. Then ‘LEGO Friends’ came out. Awesome! A toy celebrating being a girl AND using their visual-spacial skills to build, all the while using creative problem solving.
Now, yes, I agree that that some of the ‘LEGO Friends’ sets do have overly girly themes. But to LEGO’s credit there are themes covering science, design, medicine and outdoor fun too. And let’s not forget that one of the main purposes to this toy line is to BUILD the set. That takes a certain level of skill. That is the skill that we want to be encouraging our girls to strengthen.
It is okay to celebrate being a girl with a brain. These LEGO girls are said to have curves and eye-lashes. Well, yes, that is what a girl has. These LEGO girls try to be culturally diverse and are dressed pretty respectfully (no cleavage or midriff). So from this parent who will always choose any other color to pink, ‘LEGO Friends’ is on the right track.