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Stereotypes in three dimensions

Date: March 13, 2014 | Posted By: Sasha

You may have already read about my outrage at “the pink aisle” – otherwise known as the preponderance of stereotype-based toys for girls – and I was recently disappointed to learn that LEGO has sunk to new lows in the ranks of the pink.

In 1981, LEGO ads were more egalitarian.

In 1981, LEGO ads were more egalitarian.

In 2012, LEGO met with SPARK, an organization that works with girls and women to fight objectification. SPARK asked to see more female characters, more gender balance in advertising, and more non-stereotypical roles for girls in their girl-oriented line, LEGO Friends.

But LEGO went on to create a news van in which most of the space is taken up with a makeup table.

As a post by Lori Day on Women You Should Know says, “Where is the equipment? Is it behind the gigantic makeup vanity?” It’s worth noting, too, that the Women You Should Know post describes how LEGOs did not used to be divided by gender – there were toys for children, not, as she says, girls’ LEGOs and “regular — I mean boys’—LEGOs.”

But Legos are just plastic blocks, right? Maybe we shouldn’t expect so much of them.

Wrong! Ironically, a form of media with possibly the least reputation for depth – stock photos – is doing a better job of showing the richness of women’s experience and potential.

She looks like someone you could aspire to be.

She looks like someone you could aspire to be.

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg has partnered with Getty Images to increase Getty’s archive of contemporary and diverse images of women: “professional women as surgeons, painters, bakers, soldiers and hunters…girls riding skateboards, women lifting weights.” Buzzfeed has a nice collection of these updated images – check it out!

Come on, LEGO – you exist in three dimensions, just like girls. Don’t let stock photos show you up.

Sasha Albert holds a Master’s degree in Gender and Sexuality from the University of Amsterdam, and participates in reproductive health and justice activism in the Boston area.




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