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Why are people idolising this picture?

 |  Interwebs, Parenting

I have seen this picture doing the rounds on Facebook recently, mostly among parents who hail it as the right kind of thinking, not sexist, none of this “boys is blue, girls is pink” crap (which ironically LEGO embrace these days, sigh):


Now, don’t get me wrong, I like LEGO & I’ve talked about how it’s one of the few exceptions to my (albeit half-hearted these days) ‘no plastic toys’ rule. But I am really failing to see how this post is an example of a toy company getting it right.

Yes, it’s clearly a girl in the advert, but look at what she’s wearing. She’s dressed like a stereotypical boy. This advert doesn’t scream ‘gender neutral’ to me, it says pretty clearly that sure… girls can play, but only if they look and act like boys. I fail to see the revolutionary thinking there.

Jem Turner +44(0)7521056376

19 comments so far

  1. Katy said:


    a little girl wearing jeans and a tshirt. that’s a stereotype now? it’s what I wear every day, more or less (and you, and millions of other women). Clearly I’m missing something here :P

    and besides, if she was in a pink frilly dress people would be up in arms about having to show a girl as being ‘girly’. can’t win!

      • Stephanie said:

        I agree, Jem, it does seem like she is deliberately dressed like a tomboy; the knees of her jeans are even dusty, like she was out rolling in the dirt before this photo shoot (unlikely). This hearkens back to the second-wave movement where “good” feminists didn’t wear makeup, or shave, only wore pants, etc… instead of embracing their womanhood, they instead made themselves look like men. And I think that prescriptive value system is just as problematic as the one that says all girls love pink and ruffles. I really think I’d rather see a child dressed moderately girly playing with LEGOs, because that sends the message that even “girly-girls” can play with LEGOs — not just boys and girls who look like boys.

  2. Tanya said:

    This is how Sam dresses most days. She prefers it as it’s more comfortable and she likes having pockets. I have to buy most of her clothes from the boys section as a result which pisses me of but is an arguement for another day.

    She hates Lego. ;)

    • Jem said:

      Oh, don’t get me started on kids “fashion”. Or the fact that the day I sent Izz in to nursery in a “boys” jumper, they put it on a little boy’s peg because it couldn’t possibly have been hers. GRR.

  3. Mat said:

    I think you’re only seeing what you want to see. When did media/marketing ever get anything right?

    Really, gender neutrality? Pssh biggest load of shit I’ve ever heard. The more you keep pulling the reigns on whats “different” the more you enhance the stereotypes… no-one can win.

      • ELN said:

        For sure you only see what you want to see, and in this case, you see jeans and and blue sneakers and you think boys’ clothes. You see a girl dressed like a tomboy, you don’s see a child, or as the message written across says, a beautiful child, a child making beautiful things.
        This advert may not be gender neutral (is that even possible) but it definitely tackles gender stereotypes (in a way you are not ready to) and that’s what’s great about it.

        • Jem said:

          What a crock of shit. I have no problem tackling gender stereotypes. I have a problem with advertisers using them to sell things.

          (What you see – that girl – that’s what I wore growing up. Except, I had short hair too.)

  4. Chantelle said:

    You’re right about her looking boyish, but LEGOs have always been seen as a relatively gender neutral toy, despite their awkward advertisements.

    In terms of gender stereotypes, there’s one commercial I really like. It’s a laundry detergent commercial (Tide). The dad does the laundry as if it’s normal for a dad to do laundry (i.e. there’s no mother making rude comments about how men suck as domestic chores) and the daughter dresses very girly but she’s rolling around in the grass, dropping stuff on her clothes, and just being a general child/having a good time.

  5. Stephanie said:

    As with all subjective media, it’s unclear what the message of the poster is. People see what they see, and the poster could be interpreted as what you said, or to just say that “girls who are boyish are cool too!”.

    I’ll just note that when/where I was growing up, girls who dressed even slightly tomboyish got picked on and bullied at school. And the more I look around at my younger brother’s classmates, the more I think that at least where he’s at, it’s actually just not acceptable for girls to be tomboyish at all, and it’s clear that you and I both think that that’s wrong. The generation of the manly feminists seems to be fading, and my society seems to be saying once again “girls must be girls and boys must be boys”.

    Therefore, to me, the poster is a reminder that going against the trends is okay.

    • Jem said:

      It was the same here – I got the name calling because I wore jeans and boys shirts and, at one stage, even had very short hair.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that this portrays something other than a girl in pink and frills & you’re right of course that going against trends is OK, but I don’t think it’s the answer to our advertising prayers that some (on Facebook, ha) have made it out to be!

  6. Jana said:

    Little confused here. Kids don’t really read into adverts and get offended. They just want to buy the toy. What’s wrong with being a tom boy? What’s wrong with being a girly girl? Why can’t kids just be who they want to be, and parents stop getting all angry at the media?

    I played RUGBY when I was younger. A mainly male dominated sport. I liked playing in dirt, and playing outside in the dark. I HATED netball (A mainly female dominated sport)/ I didn’t like make up and fancy dresses. Not because of the media, but because my mum let me be who I wanted to be. I was happy.

    . Parents didn’t get all up in arms about it. In fact a lot of other (mainly mums) parents where proud that I was out there on the rugby field. I wasn’t confused about wanting to play “boy” games. Adverts aimed for boys toys didn’t get me upset because I was a girl. They still don’t upset me now. If something is cool, but it’s “aimed” at boys, obviously a girl can still play with it, and good parents should be telling their young children that.

    If a advert for a toy comes on the TV aimed at boys, and your girl says “Oh, it’s just for BOYS!” why can’t parents tell their kids that, well actually, anyone can play with it?

    Nothing is holding them back except parents being silly about adverts like this. WHO CARES if the child is dressed like a tom boy? I have a feeling if the kid was dressed in a tutu, parents would be pretty upset too. You just can’t WIN with any media. If it was just a boy, people would be complaining that it’s “only a boys toy” and their darling little child wants to play with it too. If it’s a girl dressed in a tutu, some dick parents would be complaining about how lego isn’t “gay” and how DARE they suggest the toy is only for females, when their darling sons play with it all the time. And if it was a boy dressed in a tutu? Well…

    As said before, kids just want to play. If your kid is “reading into” this ad, maybe they’re past the point of toys and should be in some higher education school, learning psychology.

      • Jana said:

        I agree with what Mat said. There is only a divide because people keep MAKING a divide. Blogs like yours that a read by thousands of people, and now even mothers are going to look at this and take it seriously that “OH NO! LEGO IS BAD! BOYCOTT, BOYCOTT!” JUST because you’re a little upset over something so stupid.

        The fact of the matter is that this advert is aimed at KIDS. KIDS don’t “read into” this stuff. They see a toy, they want it or they don’t. It’s up to the parents to discus with their children that they’re allowed to play with whatever toys they like. Hell, my MALE cousin was into fairies and some girly card game because his parents said it was OK. It made him happy, why bother what the advertising says, or, if it is in fact aimed at girls?

    • Jem said:

      Right, now that I’ve finished my brother’s birthday cake I can reply properly.

      Firstly, that you think this is anything but a comment on other people’s reactions to this image and how it looks to me is surprising. I don’t think I lead in to some great conspiracy by LEGO or anything else to brainwash children in to only playing with toys as defined by gender boundaries. However, fact of the matter is, virtually every toy on the market is advertised as being for a GIRL or for a BOY, when as you quite rightly point out, girls can play with “boy” toys and vice versa.

      Unfortunately, I think you underestimate the kind of impact that gendered advertising can have on both parents and children. I obviously provide Isabel with a variety of toys which she can play with as she sees fit (trains, cars, dolls, wooden blocks, instruments etc..) there is no assumption here that a toy should or does belong to a girl or a boy. However, at the age of approx. 2 years Isabel came home from nursery and told me that only girls could play with [whatever toy it was she had in her hand]. Where did she get that from – a staff member, another child? Who knows, but that attitude is out there because of ignorant parents, backed up by crappy advertising (a la LEGO “friends” – because clearly girls can only play with LEGO if it’s pink .. rolling my eyes here!) reinforced by society who think that a mother’s place is in the kitchen and a man’s is out at work in a MANLY job, and children are only children if they’re in little miniature roles imitating this.

      Advertising works, which is why it is a multibillion pound/dollar/yen/whatever industry. So when adverts go out reinforcing gender stereotypes, saying to our kids and their parents that X toy is for a girl and X toy is for a boy, that slowly but surely sinks in and people start to parrot that. That trickles down to our children, their children and any children after them. To ignore this or suggest it doesn’t exist is ignorant at best, and incredibly naive.

      Do I think this advert was deliberating pushing a message about gender? No. Do I think this advert is deliberately subverting gender boundaries as suggested by other parents on facebook? No – and that is the only point I was making in my entry.

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