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Lego Friends: What's the Big Freaking Deal?

Clearly, you should panic at the sight of these.

This may be one of those things that’s only a  kerfuffle in the media, and not in real life, but there is a lot of buzz about Lego’s new line of products called Lego Friends. Opinions are ringing out from Jezebel to TIME Magazine that the girl-oriented line is offensive, perpetuates stereotypes, and forces girls into a mass-marketed pink box. There’s even an online petition asking Lego to stop selling girls out.

Now, there are a lot of “girly” toys that I abhor. Bratz dolls come immediately to mind as something that makes me want to throat-punch a toy designer. And I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Barbie (although my daughters did once have a Presidential Candidate Barbie during the 2004 election). But these Legos? Meh. I don’t get the big deal.

Yes, a classic design that I grew up with (the beloved Lego minifigure) has been messed with. Yes, it’s annoying how toy manufacturers slop the exact same shades of lavender and pink on plastic crap and call it “for girls.”

But offensive? Nah.

Our family is a Lego family. We are, more than the average family, Lego-obsessed. People with Asperger Syndrome (a neurobiological condition on the autism spectrum) have, by definition, a narrow, focused interest. My son’s interest is Lego. We have every Lego game for the Wii. We have Star Wars Legos, and Harry Potter Legos. We have classic Lego building sets, and some Duplos still lying around.

I have, at all times, a Lego guy in my pocket in case my Lego-obsessed son, Little Dude, has a meltdown. We have Lego encyclopedias as part of our regular bedtime story rotation. His favorite part is the chapter in the back that details what it’s like to be a Lego designer, which is his career dream.

So, yeah. Legos. We’ve got ‘em.

And now we also have some Lego Friends. I took my Lego-obsessed son, Little Dude, to pick out a birthday present for his sister, who was turning eight. He picked out a Lego Friends set. He considered the treehouse set, the puppy set, and the science lab set, but he ended up picking out the beauty salon set. He said he thought that’s what his sister would like best.

Lego Friends "Butterfly Beauty Shop" does not seem to be damaging my daughter yet. I'll let you know if anything dire happens.

I bought it. Because he’s right. She freaking loves it. She loves it in the same way that as an eight-year-old, she also likes to try on makeup. Or try on a Supreme Court Justice’s robe at the Constitution Center in Philly. Or try on a doctor’s stethoscope. Or an apron. None of these play or dress-up activities seem to be damaging her self-esteem, her ability to stand up for herself, or her desire to start her pre-med studies now.

At this very moment, there is a mash-up of Legos on the living room floor. Harry Potter and the Lego Friends have teamed up to save the universe from the evil Emperor Palpatine. Little Dude plays with the Lego Friends as much as he plays with the regular minifigs. And my daughters still play with the regular minifigures.

Oh, and by the way: Classic Legos and Lego Friends hurt like a mother equally when you step on them in the dark.

(Image credit: Lego.com)

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