when lego was just… lego

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As a child I used to play for hours with our basket full of lego. I remember making towns and homes and parks and imaginary worlds and moving the little people all about. We have a big basket of duplo from the 80s that my grandmother gave us when she moved house, but the girls are now ready for the smaller sized lego pieces.

Birdie recently got some lego and when we brought it home I was surprised to note that almost all the blocks were pink and the only person in the box was a blonde princess. She has a bed with roses on it and a dress and a rabbit with its very own crown. And a wand. It wasn’t until this point that I realised (in horror) that in this day and age there is “girl’s lego” and “boy’s lego”. What I would refer to as “lego” is now “boy’s lego”. And from what I can gather they seem to come mostly in kits where the need for imagination is limited. I bet you all knew this already, right? I was telling someone about this horrific discovery only to have them reply, “Oh, I know, isn’t it great! Now the girls can play lego too… it’s so cute.”

As you can imagine I had to quickly change my tune…

Before I had children, I thought gender stereotyping was a thing of the past, but as a parent I now realise it is certainly alive and thriving. Why can’t my girls play with plain old lego? I should point out that Bird absolutely loves her pink lego… But there were no towns or families or parks to be made with the princess stuck in her lonely old castle. As far as I could see she didn’t have many things to do aside from faff about in her royal bed or look at herself in her royal mirror and wave her pink wand every now and then. With her crowned bunny. Who also has a wand. But can’t hold it. So.

Just like at the Pixie’s swimming lesson the other week when the teacher instructed her in a little dainty voice to “kick, kick, kick your little princess toes!” and to the boy in the class in a gruff deep voice: “kick, kick, kick those big strong legs!”

I don’t know about all the other parents of girls out there, but I know I want all three of my women to grow up with strong legs that can carry them through the ups and downs of life, rather than “little princess toes”.

9 Comments

  1. clare January 21, 2016

    I had this awful realisation recently when duplo shopping for Fox. I complained to the store person who asserted that “girls” Lego was pink and princessy because that’s what people want to buy. I was fuming! I chose animal themed duplo, the one box that was gender neutral :/

    Reply
    • motherwho January 21, 2016

      It’s ridiculous Clare!!! I assume the “boys” lego is diggers and trucks and men in overalls… infuriating! Animal theme sounds like the best choice…

      Reply
  2. Brooke January 21, 2016

    pahaha Princess toes and Strong legs! I think a lot of people don’t realise what they’re saying really, but I 100% ‘get’ this post and it irks me too, you are not alone. Who decides that’s what ppl want to buy? I think it’s more like that’s all people have to choose from!

    Reply
    • motherwho January 24, 2016

      I know, I’m sure I unconsciously do this stuff too, it’s just so ingrained in us! I agree that’s all people have to choose from, so of course they buy it. And for some reason the girls do seem to be attracted to that stuff and the boys to the “boys” stuff… as to why… I am still trying to figure out!

      Reply
  3. Fay Richards January 21, 2016

    Totally agree. I can’t understand the Lego that makes ‘one thing’ either. What a waste of time and money. Lego was for being creative, size matching, colour matching, shape matching etc. and yes, sexism is alive and well in the toy departments

    Reply
    • motherwho January 24, 2016

      Yes it certainly is! I still can’t quite figure out the psychology behind it… as my girls love nothing more than pink, purple, frills and princesses despite me actively not encouraging it!

      Reply
      • Fay Richards January 24, 2016

        No doubt that happens. My daughter became a beauty therapist – wanted to be that from the age of 12. I’d never been to a salon in my life! (or hers).
        Son became aircraft mechanic. That could have been some dad influence there though. Although was ” a boy” from the time he was born. Trying to escape to play with neighbours from the time he learnt to crawl.

        Reply
  4. Sally January 22, 2016

    I was worried that all you could buy was Lego “kits” too! No open ended possibilities. But you can buy “Lego Classic” sets, thank goodness!

    Reply
    • motherwho January 22, 2016

      Thanks Sally, I’ll have to have a look for the lego classics!! It’s fun to follow the instructions sometimes but nothing beats using your imagination 🙂

      Reply

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