The Attack on ‘Girly’ Toys Is Turning Into a Class War

At first I saw the attack on the so-called “girl” toys as an over-simplification. The thought that girls are somehow less likely to succeed because they’ve chosen to consume cotton candy pink over navy blue is to wholly discount the grit and determination gussied up in poof and prissy.

But the release of this year’s Worst Toys of the Year list from the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood had introduced a more sinister element to the campaign against all things that cater to a certain kind of kid’s certain proclivities. This isn’t just a war on pink.

This is a class war.

The Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young Children (TOADY) list includes, not surprisingly, one of the toys from the much-maligned LEGO Friends line (I’ll let my defense of the girly LEGO line itself stand on its own). I’ll let you read their problem with the LEGO Friends Butterfly Beauty Shop and see what you make of it:

How do you turn one of the all-time great toys into a TOADY contender? Give it a makeover! Introducing LEGO Friends, just for girls and so jam-packed with condescending stereotypes it would even make Barbie blush. Bye-bye square, androgynous figures; hello, curves ‘n eyelashes! And at the LEGO Friends Butterfly Beauty Shop, your little princess won’t need to worry her pretty little head about icky boy things like building. Instead, she can “get primped and pretty and have some serious salon fun,” “shop for makeup and hair accessories,” or “gossip out on the bench by the scenic fountain.”

Oh dear, can you imagine it my lambs? Little girls may actually be dreaming of growing up to work in a salon! Scandalous! What will happen next? Will parents abandon en masse the traditional aspirations of hoping their children grow up to be lawyers and doctors and accept that the service industry is the right path for some? That without the hairdressers and bus drivers of the world our hair wouldn’t get dressed nor our buses driven?

I’ll ignore — for the moment — the ridiculous assertion that a LEGO set is for girls who don’t want to worry about “icky boy things like building.” Even the Friends line comes with bricks meant to be put together according to the instructions to create something. It takes the same amount of geometric reasoning to assemble the beauty salon as it would any similar set with culturally more accepted ninjas.

What’s truly alarming here is an attack on a beauty salon as if it’s somehow beneath our girls to wish to grow up to style hair and paint nails for a decent wage.

Perhaps it’s my rather blue collar upbringing, but I struggle to make sense of such a vicious attack on a toy that presents one career option to children that’s not only artistically challenging but relatively recession-proof. No one said girls have to grow up to become cosmetologists simply because they played with a beauty salon too, but there’s certainly no shame in it.

As the mother of a daughter, I’m buoyed to see society moving toward toys that bring genders together instead of throwing them apart. I want to see our children celebrated for who they are as individuals, not grouped into pre-set boxes based on color. But I refuse to be drawn into a class war under the guise of improving the toy industry.

What do you think of the LEGO beauty salon? Is it wrong for a parent to buy this for their daughter?

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Image via Toys R Us


  1. Love this angle. So true. I had not thought of it this way.

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