Brighton writer and blogger Maddie Sinclair is mum to a five-year-old boy and a two-year-old girl. She’s also campaign manager for the ‘Love for Izzy Dix’ campaign, which raises awareness of bullying, low self-esteem and teen suicide by promoting love, kindness, compassion, empathy and respect.
When Lego announced in June that they were releasing a new line aimed at girls featuring female scientist minifigures, social media fizzed away excitedly for weeks like a bubbling lab experiment.
The notably-devoid-of-pink set was the brainchild of Swedish geochemist, Dr Ellen Kooijman, who submitted her plan to the Lego Ideas website in the hope of convincing the brickmakers to develop a range of Lego women seen in a professional environment, rather than the usual play or partying scenario.
Ellen’s proposal reached the 10,000 votes needed to put the design into production, and the ‘Research Institute’ was born – a set including a female astronomer with telescope, a chemist in a lab and a paleontologist with a dinosaur skeleton. Around the world, females, Lego fans, and…ah… female Lego fans rejoiced.
You see, earlier this year a handwritten letter to Lego written by 7-year-old Charlotte Benjamin went viral, urging the company to “make more Lego girl people and let them go on adventures and have fun ok!?!”. In it she states that: “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.”
For many, Charlotte’s letter really hit home. We all know and love the retro Lego character ‘80s-something Space Guy’, but that’s just it – he’s a guy. There have been lots of female astronauts, so why is there no ‘80s-something Space Girl’?
Taking Lego to task on their gender stereotyping isn’t exactly a new pastime. The launch of their ‘Friends’ range for girls back in 2012 was met with controversy, as it relied heavily on pink and other pastel colours, included slim, Barbie-like characters with patterned clothes and accessories, and seemed much more prescriptive in terms of play suggestions than the old primary-coloured gender-neutral bricks.
When the new ‘Research Institute’ set was released this month, Lego’s biggest condemnation has been that it now appears the sets are only ‘limited editions’ and will not be put into normal mass production. At launch, they sold out immediately at all major retailers, and sets are now going for three times their original price online, so it’s clearly not a ‘demand’ thing. To lobby Lego you can sign a petition at: www.change .org/p/ lego-lego-make-empowered-female-minifigs-permanent