LEGO is now offering beauty advice to young girls, and attempting to teach them about getting the “right” haircut for the shape of their face. How did “a toy for a girl, a toy for a boy” become “beauty advice for a girl, empowering confidence for a boy?” LEGO, arguably American kids’ favorite toys, has taken an ugly turn and parents everywhere are taking note. In the March-April edition of the LEGO Club magazine, targeted at kids ages 5-12, LEGO marketing geniuses thought it necessary to include detailed beauty advice for girls to help them achieve the cutest haircut for their face shape—for their tender, elementary-aged faces.
Sharon Holbrook, a columnist for The New York Times and an alert mother of a seven year-old daughter, isn’t happy about LEGO’s decision to join the ranks of Cosmopolitan and the like, doling out advice about crafting the perfect outward appearance. And rightly so. What business does LEGO, a toy company, have in instructing girls about how they should look?
Sure, sure. Magazines marketed to adults, like Cosmo for the ladies and Details for the dudes, give advice all the time about how to pick the perfect outfit, the best way to remove hair from their nether regions, and what to do and say to lure a lover to the bedroom. The difference, of course, is that those magazines cater to adult human beings. Not children.
When it comes to product marketing, especially in the toy industry, one might think the adage “know your audience” would apply in spades. LEGO seems to have forgotten their mission, and completely disregarded the best interests of those very girls they seek to market to. As with Holbrook’s impressionable daughter, I’m certain many a young girl has been roped into the burdens of face shape and flattering haircut, but I think it’s clear to anyone who can see the big picture that parents won’t allow this to continue.
Holbrook may have been the first to raise the red flag, but other parents are paying attention now, more than ever, to the intricacies of LEGO’s marketing materials. Essentially, a company that has spent decades establishing itself as a trusted fixture has drawn sharp scrutiny from the very people whose pockets pay their rent.
Parents aren’t the only ones directly involved in the backlash. Other media outlets, like the sass-infused BoingBoing, are all over the LEGO bruhaha. While the LEGO Club article offered advice for each so-called face shape, BoingBoing responded with a hilarious but sharp satire of “Beauty Tips for the Male LEGO Exec.” It’s a must-read for any parent concerned about LEGO’s moves, and it’s a pretty sharp thorn in LEGO’s side.
LEGO, for the record, has yet to make any statements to address the controversy.
Our children are growing up in a delicate time. We need to inform and empower them on complex issues of gender identity and equality, relationships of ethnicity, socio-economic disparities, and oh so much more.
I beg that LEGO will consider an apology for their misstep and cease immediately with the dispensing of wholly-inappropriate “advice” for young girls. Although I do not have any daughters, I am offended on behalf of my son, who will grow up in a time when his young female peers are still strapped with archaic notions of what a girl should spend her time worrying about. Come on, LEGO, it’s 2015. Give us a break and support all our children equally.