Though I typically avoid the BuzzFeed click bait that clutters Facebook and Twitter, every now and then a post will stand out, building enough intrigue to make me bite. Just the other day, my friend linked to one such post entitled LEGO Just Got Told Off By A 7-Year-Old Girl. (I tend to gravitate toward stories about today's youth as I am often mistaken for one.) This particular post features an image of a handwritten letter penned by Charlotte, an unhappy consumer who felt the need to express her discontent.Posted by Twitter user @SocImages, the letter describes this disgruntled young shopper's hatred toward LEGO's line of toys specifically designed for girls. Charlotte writes:
Dear Lego Company:
My name is Charlotte. I am 7 years old and I love Legos but I don't like that there are more Lego boy people and barely any Lego girls.
Today I went to a store and saw Legos in two sections the girls pink and the boys blue. All the girls did was sit at home, go to the beach, and shop, and they had no jobs but the boys went on adventures, worked, saved people, and had jobs, even swam with sharks.
I want you to make more Lego girl people and let them go on adventures and have fun ok!?!
From Charlotte Benjamin.
Here, the young feminist highlights an issue that one cannot overlook when perusing the toy aisles in any store. Bright pink Barbie boxes and baby dolls characterize the "girl" aisles, while the "boy" aisles offer superhero action figures, trains, and Hot Wheels. Yet, while I've always been a sucker for Disney princesses--after all, they now have one with my name!--I cannot help but browse through these items without an air of disgust.
Just as Charlotte notes, the LEGO Friends line robs girls of the creativity that the LEGO brand once represented. Each set limits the child's ability to think outside the box, providing just enough pieces to build the given edifice on the package. From a cafÃ© and a poodle palace, to a beach house and a juice bar (my personal favorite), this collection abandons the traditional LEGO colors to add that girlish flare so many supposedly seek. But, as Charlotte so eloquently highlights, girls don't just want to shop and play house. They want to go on adventures and save lives.
When I was young, LEGO blocks were gender neutral, much like the traditional color scheme. Girls and boys would play and build together to create homes and firehouses. Our only worry was stepping on one of those small cubes with bare feet. But now, as the LEGO universe begins to expand and segregate its target markets, one cannot help but wonder how many young minds the brand will inevitably alienate.
Charlotte surely must not be the only young girl who's upset by the misguided gender roles we've established and perpetuated. Her innocence proves that some marketing maneuvers may sound good in theory, but fail to resonate in reality. Perhaps we should listen closely to the small voices that often become overshadowed by our big ambitions. Children recognize inequality more readily than we give them credit for, and today's parents want to empower their sons and their daughters to bridge the gender gap that history has helped to grow. LEGO sets are typically quite expensive but, in the long run, such toys may cost our society even more than we could've imagined.