The Washington Post

Girl toys, boy toys? Oy.

(Courtesy Warner Bros.) Need more toys that aren't girlie? You're not alone. (Courtesy Warner Bros.) Need more toys that aren’t girlie? You’re not alone.

A while back, I bought Legos Friends for my son’s pal. This line of Legos is a sort of feminized spinoff, featuring pink and purple blocks, and characters that do things like sit at a cafe or run a bakery. I have two boys, so I get a kick out of buying feminine things when I get the chance. But it felt a little strange buying Legos that are Legos — only pink. A friend of mine said she felt manipulated; she bought them for her daughter then asked herself why. The pink blocks at her house are now mixed in with the regular ones, just another color in the rainbow of plastic.

Should we care that a company is marketing its products differently to different audiences? Or should we just note the phenomenon and move on? We’re the consumers and we can make choices, right?

You may have seen the now-viral letter written by  7-year-old Charlotte, slamming the company for making few girl Lego people, most of whom do nothing but “sit at home, go to the beach and shop,” while there are a wide array of boy characters who go on exciting adventures. She’s right. But we’re still buying the lame girl characters.

I’ve been a part of many conversations about the appalling girl vs. boy toy aisles. I’ll add that it’s tough for me, too — it took me forever to find a kitchen for my guys that wasn’t pink or purple with glittery hearts all over it. But, then, that’s the only example I can think of. If you’re the parent of a girl, how do you fight the tide? Just take a look at everything that spelled sweet, innocent playtime when we were small, and how it looks now. Even Strawberry Shortcake and Holly Hobby have gotten sort of, well, sexy.

The change in these toys is there, and it will continue. But you can fight it if you pay attention to what’s on your shelves at home. And if you actually send that letter your 7-year-old wrote to the company who makes her toys.


Amy Joyce is the editor and a writer for On Parenting.



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Amy Joyce and Amy Orndorff · January 30, 2014