LEGO ad from 1981 should be required reading for everyone who makes, buys, or sells toys

A little girl from the 80s looking at modern day toys for girls would probably choke on all the hair extensions and glitter. Just take a look at the following examples of the hyper-feminized transformation of “girls” toys that’s taken place over the years.

Pay attention, 2014 Mad Men: This little girl is holding a LEGO set. The LEGOs are not pink or “made for girls.” She isn’t even wearing pink. The copy is about “younger children” who “build for fun.” Not just “girls” who build. ALL KIDS.

In an age where little girls and little boys are treated as though they are practically two entirely different species by toy marketers, this 1981 ad for LEGO–now one of my favorite images ever–issues an important reminder of just what it means to play, no gender-polarized marketing required.

To contrast, here’s an image of a LEGO Friends set — a line made specifically for girlsthat has been scrutinized since its launch in 2011:

lego friends

The advertisements for LEGO Friends, too, are noticeably more feminized than their 1981 counterpart.

Unfortunately, LEGO is not the only brand that has become increasingly girly over the years. My Little Pony, Cabbage Patch Kids, and even Trolls have undergone extreme makeovers. Take a look for yourself, courtesy of Sociological Images