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A new Lego line for girls is offensive, critics say

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January 23, 2012|By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog

Lego toys have always seemed pleasantly gender-neutral. Perhaps that's why the new Lego Friends line for girls has triggered a fair bit of protest from some health and equal-rights organizations.

The new line, whose characters sport slim figures and stylish clothes, will contribute to gender stereotyping that promotes body dissatisfaction in girls, said Carolyn Costin, an eating disorders specialist and founder of the Monte Nido Treatment Center in Malibu.

Online petitions have been started to protest the line, which includes a Butterfly Beauty Shop and a Your Fashion Designer Workshop. The International Assn. of Eating Disorder Professionals said the toys were "devoid of imagination and promote overt forms of sexism."

The toys send girls a message "that being pretty is more important than who you are or what you can do," Costin said in a statement.

Denmark-based Lego Group, however, said the Friends line was a response to consumer demand.

"We heard very clear requests from moms and girls for more details and interior building, a brighter color palette, a more realistic figure, role play opportunities and a story line that they would find interesting," Mads Nipper, executive vice president of the privately held firm, said in a statement. "We want to correct any misinterpretation that Lego Friends is our only offering for girls. This is by no means the case. We know that many girls love to build and play with the wide variety of Lego products already available."

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