“There’s no law that they can’t go in the store and buy the Frank Lloyd Wright line” –Matt Lauer on girl Legos

Thank God for Star Jones.

Yesterday, on “The Today Show,” Matt Lauer, Nancy Snyderman, Donnie Deutsch, and Star discussed the Legos for girls. Everyone seemed to think selling girls out was pretty hilarious. I transcribed the segment below ( It may not be perfect but it’s very close. The version I found on the Today site missed words and didn’t attribute them.) My comments are in italics. You can watch the segment here.

Matt Lauer: Lego has a brand new line of products coming out marketed specifically to girls, but some are arguing it’s sexist and stereotypical because the lady Legos work in places like beauty salons, cupcake factories, and vet offices.

Would Matt say “gentleman Legos”? Or is he adopting Lego’s “ladyfig” term? Or, is he being facetious in which case: ha ha

Star Jones: And they give you little electric mixers and brushes and combs and purses.

Thank you, Star. Well said.

Donnie Deutsch: Perfect, perfect.

Ha ha?

Matt Lauer: You’re sounding down on this.


Jones: When you’re a little girl, you want to build bridges also. You want to put them on top of each other. You don’t want–

Lauer: So go out and buy the architectural Lego.

(Nancy Snyderman laughs.)

Jones: Which is exactly the way my three year old goddaughter does. She has the architectural one. The big yellow ones.

Thank you Star for trying to explain.

Nancy Snyderman: These are perfectly okay. The reality is there is a gender difference. Girls like playing with girl’s things, and you’re still constructing things. If the cupcake girl can still do calculus, I have no issue.

If the cupcake girl knows calculus, it’s not because of Friends Lego. The focus of the Friends sets is not  construction or imagination. Everyone chant together now: Girls like playing with girl things! Girls like playing with girl things! If we say it enough, it will come true!

Deutsch: By the way, an example yesterday, I took my little girls to a craft studio where you paint and draw. They picked the cupcakes and the girl things. They were still learning to draw but they were doing it their way. Having said that though, where I do have a problem is when you separate the 50 most powerful business women. The more you separate men and women, that’s keeping the distinction, so there’s a double edged sword.

And the difference is? That’s not a double edge, dude, it’s an edge. One more time: Girls like playing with girl things!

Jones: They put those Legos in the girls section.

Star tries again. Thank you, Star.

Lauer: Here’s a response from Lego: We’re typically acknowledged as a toy for boys. Currently only 9% of American girls are building. The Lego Friends line is the result of four year of global research to understand what would attract more girls to building.

At this point I would’ve said: “Of course Lego said that. They’re trying to sell toys to parents.” But instead everyone except for Star leaps on Lego’s statement as if it’s Gospel.

Deutsch: You’re teaching them to build!

Snyderman: It gets girls into architecture and math and design, I’m all for it!

Jones: Give them some alternatives for goodness sake.

Lauer: There’s no law that says they can’t go to the store and buy the Frank Lloyd Wright line.

There’s no law, Matt. It’s called marketing. Isn’t this segment about Lego marketing to girls?

Jones: They put the Legos in the girls sections.

Star tries a fourth time to discuss how corporations market gender.

Deutsch: Little Girls do like princesses and things like that. I like princesses.

When princesses are practically the only way girls get represented or are allowed to be the center of attention, or stars, in movies, games, toys, and TV, of course, they’re going to like them. Beggars can’t be choosers.

Snyderman: And will parents buy this for boys? (Laughs)

Deutsch: No they won’t.

Lauer: That’s probably not going to happen

(Everyone laughs)

To me, that’s the lowlight of this whole segment. Parents wouldn’t be caught dead buying Friends Legos for their sons. Why? First, it’s a stupid toy. Look how early it starts: boy stuff is cool and girl stuff has cooties. Parents feel comfortable when their kids fall neatly into gender norms and corporations play to that.  If a boy tries on a barrette, the parent pays little attention, but if he picks up a train, “He’s such a boy! Look at him go!” Of course, it goes way beyond that. As I keep writing about this issue, kids learn through play. Play is supposed to challenge children out of their comfort zones to help their brains grow. Parents, please challenge your kids.

20 thoughts on ““There’s no law that they can’t go in the store and buy the Frank Lloyd Wright line” –Matt Lauer on girl Legos

  1. Dear Margot Magowan:

    I have a gender neutral alternative for secist Legos.
    MineCraft. It’s a video game about building and having adventures. You can change how you look in a click and the default skin is a long haired human, who could pass as male or female.
    U can play with other people on the same Internet conect as u, or on worldwide servers or alone. Download it at minecraff.net and change how u look by googling mine craft skindex

  2. I wish Star would have shot out of her seat and shouted at them that No, no one is saying the little girls HAVE to buy these sets…but unless their parents are totally sheltering them this is what is being shoved down their throats! THIS is what they are being TOLD they have to buy by their peers, and the imagery and marketing all around them. (And as a side note, these WILL be in stores, but I have yet to see the Frank Lloyd Wright sets in any stores.)

    Also, if my son were to ask for these sets, I would not hesitate to buy them for him. I know I am in the minority there, but I will let my kid dictate his own interests.

  3. I love this idea–finally some Legos that my son might play with. It will also allow him to play with his sister, who has appropriated all the Legos he ignores to build her cars, towers and buildings.

    But yeah, for families w/o mixed up gender roles–what you said.

  4. I think it should be noted that LEGO has had and even more pink and foofey line called Belville, which ran from 1994 to 2009. “Girly” LEGO are nothing new. The Belville sets had large parts and were simple to build in a way that was far more insulting than the fairy princess settings. LEGO Friends is actually a vast improvement over what they were making. At least these sets include a Veterinary Clinic, a Tree Fort, a Science Lab, and a Design Studio. Also the sets are far more complicated and detailed. I’m a guy, and I bought some of them just for the cool new pieces.

    I think the big problem is that the figures are clearly different from the traditional LEGO minifig, which firmly draws a line between the girl sets and the rest. As a builder I don’t like that these “Mini-Bratz” don’t mix with the majority of my collection, but on a personal level I hate the separation of the sexes this implies.

    I have no problem with sets having feminine colors and settings. In fact I felt they were sorely lacking within LEGO’s “City” line. I have no problem with pink and purple boxes, or “girly” settings. I just wish that Cafes, Beauty Salons, and Dog Shows had been made a part of the same setting as Police Chases, Astronauts, and Firefighters.

    – J

  5. Pingback: No Laughing Matter: 10 Year Old Girl responds to LEGO’s gender stereotyping | Don't conform Transform

  6. It’s true that nothing is stopping girls from buying the “boy” lego sets, but you do have to wonder what it does to a child when they are a girl buying from the boy section or the other way around. If they are interested in toys marketed for the opposite gender, do they start to feel like they are abnormal? I think it would be interesting to have a store that doesn’t divide toys by gender, but places them all together. Would be nice if toy companies could start using more neutral colors and designs on their packaging, too.

    • I don’t know if you heard, but recently, Hamleys, the major toy store in London, England did just that. Desegregated the whole store to group toys by type and not gender. I plan to visit soon.
      Also, interesting that this whole backlash is a backlash against marketing, and not simply the product. We can each have our own opinions on the worth of this particular product (the Friends line). However, where people seem to be taking issue is with the marketing/publicity of their ‘research’ to boost product sales, and these past decades of excluding girls in LEGO’s marketing (save similar lines, one of which had no actual lego pieces!).
      I’m putting my money where my mouth is. And, that’s a shame for LEGO, as I loved LEGO growing up, and now have two young children who will use alternative products.

      • Hi alfie…

        I have heard of Hamley’s and I think its great and logical! Of course stores should be organized by TYPE of toy: art, building, electronic etc and not girl/ boy. And yes, agree the issue is marketing and how other LEGO products are marketed to boys, with boys on the packaging, ads, etc. I am not buying LEGO either though I was a fan of the product for all three of my kids. Totally support your decision. I’m compiling a list of other building toys if you find some cool ones.


  7. LOVED this post. Thank you so much for transcribing the discussion (and I really enjoyed your commentary).
    Adult attitudes about gender and gender roles are constantly being communicated to kids. This has a major impact on their understanding of what it means to be a boy or a girl and what is “for them” or “not for them.” Add that to the polarizing messages from marketers and it’s really no wonder we see such a great divide among our kids – boys over here, girls over there. Imagine how much more kids would learn -socially, emotionally, academically – if they were encouraged to come together more.

  8. I just saw these Legos in the store today. I think they are ridiculous. I also wonder where Lego got their ‘9% of girls’ statistic?? I played with Legos when I was growing up and that was years ago. Well. Not years. 🙂

  9. I’m sorry, but there is no way in you-know-where my girls would play with these Lego Friends sets. Not because they’re so girly, but because there’s hardly any “building” going on in these sets. They look just like Littlest Pet Shop or Polly Pocket or whatever that stuff is. My daughters get bored with those in about 5 minutes.
    We’ll take the normal Legos, please. 🙂

  10. Sending twitters back and forth to @LEGO this week, they tried very hard to defend their new product. My daughter loves Lego and wants to be a scientist like her dad, she is excellent in math and we’ve tried very hard all along to give her gender neutral toys. Having said that, my 5 year old girly-girl niece came over today and refused point plank to play with our Lego sets and said they were for boys. I took her to the computer and showed her the new line and both girls said they would love to play with the new Lego. I wonder if the new Lego has the same benefits for girls as the “boys” sets. So saddened by this, really.

    • I don’t think anyone says the girly Legos won’t sell if parents buy them. Barbies sell. But what are they selling? Lego could be so much more creative in marketing to girls, starting with very basic changes like showing girls flying an airplane on its Facebook welcome page.


      • I agree. If they wanted a market share for girls, maybe they should have been making things more neutral for some of the past 30 years. When you look at the Canadian Lego site, all the other products are all targeted to boys only. Even in the castle you can’t even see the princess because she is stuck behind bars for the boys to rescue. They are definitely hugely at fault here.

        • Girly-girl is a insult! Tomboy also. A girl who’s girly can be a computer programmer or a fashion model! Holy Mole! I can’t believe no one pointed that out!!!
          A tomboy is a girly girl because all young females are girly. Tomboys are just a type of girly. A girl who likes football and overalls is girly!
          now I’m done wth my rant.
          *walks away gasping for breath*
          ~Nikki Roseworth 11 yo

  11. Help! Margot, thank you for all of these postings. I think these idiots should read Ann Garth’s letter. She is vastly, vastly more eloquent than they (especially that super idiot Matt Lauer) could ever hope to be. Aaargh

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