Cecilia Fierro may not have set out to shatter any gender stereotypes or make any big cultural statements when she started playing around with Lego people a few months back. (After all, she is only 3.) But unbeknownst to the tiny toddler, her Lego creations spoke volumes to her mother Julia about the way we perpetuate stereotypes to our kids—especially through the toys we give them. So she took to Tumblr to post Cecilia's Lego ladies last month ... and has gotten a lot of people talking in the process.
It all started when Cecilia became bored with all the "girl" Lego options out there (or lack thereof), and started putting female heads onto male bodies. It wasn't long before she had a pretty eclectic cast of characters to play with, ranging from lipstick-wearing cops to female construction workers. She even started mixing and matching all sorts of male body parts to create her own "badass" ladies—like Ann Lee, a "monster fighter" made from Lex Luther's torso, Han Solo's legs, and a bag piper's cap. (Doesn't get much more badass than that.)
All the while, Julia's been posting photos of her daughter's creations, making quite the statement along the way.
In an email to The Huffington Post, Cecila's mom, author Julia Fierro, explained the story behind her daughter's creations a little further. "She intentionally picked accessories that had come with male figures—and also [things] that we, as a society, identify with male gender roles. For example, weapons like bow and arrows, guns, swords, or a police badge and cuffs, or a knight's armor. Her 'girl' Lego recreations came out looking like warriors and soldiers. Most of them are her 'superhero girls.’"
While Lego has tried to respond to the disparity in its toy offerings for girls over the years (note its recently launched female scientist figurine), there's clearly a larger problem with how we market to both boys and girls in various toy categories. After all, a study done by the Scientific American found that the gender ratio of mini figure models is roughly 4:1 in favor of males. And not surprisingly, it showed that the toys we offer girls often play into some major stereotypes, with lots of pink, "girly" themes.
That was exactly the problem with the "Lego Friends" line, which was intended to be more "girl-centric," but flopped after parents petitioned for reinforcing such gender stereotypes. "I have no problem with them making pink Legos," one mom said at the time, after her daughter Riley's rant about "pink stuff" went viral. "But I really hate the message they send. [Riley] doesn't need to be building a hot tub and serving drinks. I want her to build whatever she wants. We want her to be herself."
For now, the Badass Lego Girls project is continuing to inspire and shed light on the issue in its own small way. Said Fierro, "There is something essential in sharing these photos, in talking about what might need to be changed in the way we still think about our girls. Girls who, sooner than we can imagine, will be women," Fierro said.