Editor's Note: Mark Joyella works as digital producer for CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront. A longtime journalist, Mark was dubbed "New York’s Most Annoying Husband" by the New York Daily News. So far, his daughter thinks he’s pretty cool. You can find Mark on Twitter @standupkid.
Really, Lego? Really?
As we sit a matter of days-hours -- if you want to bust our your calculator -- from 2012, you decide it's time to develop Legos "for girls"? The new range of girl-targeted Lego toys (by which I mean figures and accessories in addition to the classic blocks that date back decades) features such forward-thinking concepts of what girls want in a set of plastic blocks as a beautician, a pop star and a "social girl."
I'll admit all I know about girls is what I've learned from my daughter over the last eighteen months since her birth. But the idea of forking over any amount of money for toys that limit her vision to 1950's stereotypes? C'mon, Lego. You can do way better than that.
As Bloomberg Businessweek's Brad Weiners reported this week, "now, after four years of research, design and exhaustive testing, Lego believes it has a breakthrough in its Lego "Friends" ... a full line of 23 different products backed by $40 million global marketing push. 'This is the most significant strategic launch we've done in a decade,' says Lego Group Chief Executive Officer Jorgen Vig Knudstorp."
Four years of research to create a Lego beautician and a "social girl"? Didn't Barbie pretty much cover that ground sometime before 1960?
From before our daughter's birth, my wife and I talked about gender stereotyping and how we could subvert it, knowing full well that the birth of a little girl would naturally flood our home with dolls, pink colored clothes and "girl toys" of every imaginable kind. And yes, of course, that happened.
We hadn't known we were having a girl, so the pink was in a sense a pleasant surprise to fill our gender neutral, jungle-themed nursery filled with monkeys and lions. But to counter the frilly doll, our little girl got a recycled plastic dumptruck. And for every adorable flower power t-shirt, there was a robot shirt (that we usually had to go to the boys' section to find).
And when she got old enough, I was beyond excited to buy her a first set of Legos, which were one of my favorite toys from childhood. It never occurred to me that there could be boys' Legos and girls' Legos. I thought you just bought Legos. And that's what we did. Blocks.
I'm aware that Legos have gotten far more elaborate over the years since I was a kid-with pirate ships and hospitals with helipads-but reading this week about the new "Lego Friends" designed with the goal of reaching "the other 50 percent of the world's children" just stunned me.
Who knew? Those blocks have been boy blocks all along.
All my thinking about Lego changed when I read that. Now I'm not saying I'll stop buying Lego's classic blocks and building all manner of bridges, abstract towers with castles-even a beauty shop, should that be what my daughter wants to do-but you certainly won't find me standing in a Brooklyn toy store agonizing over the question "Which Lego Friend is she, the beautician or the pop star?"
There already was lego for girls. It was called "lego".