'Girl Toys' Don't Do Girls Any Good

lego friend businessweek coverHonestly, as a parent, I expected more from Lego. Of all the toy companies in all the world, they seemed the most unlikely culprit to buckle under the pressure of Princess Nation (you know, that segment of pop culture devoted to coloring little girls' thoughts pink). Sadly, the new Lego Friends line seems to indicate that I was mistaken.

Basically, all you need to know about Lego Friends is that they come in exclusively pastel colors with names like Emma the Beautician and Social Butterfly Stephanie.

Sigh.

But even though I'm disappointed, I'm not entirely surprised. Lego Friends are merely the latest gender-simplifying plaything designed to keep the glass ceiling intact for generations to come.

Just like those dusty old board games I used to play with from my grandmother's basement ...

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Actually, to be fair to Lego, board games from the 1960s make Social Butterfly Stephanie look like Gloria Steinem.

"What Shall I Be? The Exciting Game of Careers for Girls" limited ambitious young ladies' futures to such options as Ballet School, Airline Training School, Charm School, and Drama School. (Which career was the right fit for you depended on the heart-shaped cards you were dealt; for example, "You are overweight" meant you'd never make it as an Airline Hostess, Ballet Dancer, or Model.)

Milton Bradley's "Mystery Date" took an equally evolved approach to love and romance. Collect the proper accessories and catch a dreamy fella! Swoon.

Dumbed-down toys and games for girls have been so consistently commonplace for so many years that Saturday Night Live even did a commercial parody about it, "Chess for Girls." The classic game of strategy, wit ... and bubbles!

I don't expect this phenomenon to go away ever anytime soon. I'm just relieved that my daughter outgrew her own short-lived fascination with all things frilly years ago. Not because I think toys like Lego Friends do any real harm to girls, necessarily, but because they don't do girls any good, either.

What do you think of Lego Friends?


Image via Bloomberg Businessweek

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