Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot
Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.
When I was a kid, you know what we called Legos for girls? Legos. When my own young daughters were small, you know what they called them? Legos. They came in blue and red and green and yellow. But lately Legos, like damn near every other object in the toy aisle, have felt the need to assert their gender.
It started when the company began aggressively marketing to boys back in 2005, offering up what BusinessWeek recently described as “spaceships and laser cannons … martial arts and supernatural powers,” a world in which “80 percent of the characters are boys.” But the extreme genderfication of Legos put the company in a self-imposed bind. How to respond to the demands of consumers who want a more daughter-friendly Lego? There was only one thing to do next – make some girly Legos!
Just in time for the holidays, the Danish brand rolled out a pink-themed line of Lego Friends last December, featuring curvaceous, pretty girls who play in pastel-themed, gently constructed cafes, beauty shops, puppy houses and their own little stages. That’s the life of a girl for you – looking pretty, “decorating your house” and eating cupcakes.
From the get-go, the Lego Friends were met with a not-so-friendly response. The International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals called the line “devoid of imagination,” and said it would “promote overt forms of sexism.” US News offered “5 Reasons Not to Buy Your Daughter Pink Legos.” In Time, Ruth Davis Konigsburg bemoaned that “With its emphasis on physical appearance and limited career choices — [is it] really any different from that of Disney’s princesses?” She continued, noting how the Friends sets require the barest of construction, “LEGO Friends doesn’t give girls the same sense of mastery and accomplishment that it gives boys.”
So it’s a hopeful sign that on Friday, members of SPARK (Sexualization Protest Action Resistance Knowledge) are sitting down for a meeting with Lego executives. The goal, as SPARK optimistically explains, is that “We want [Lego] to commit to dramatically increasing the female characters in their non-Friends lines. (The current numbers are pretty dismal.) We want them to consider female representation when choosing pre-existing material to adapt into new toys. And we want them to improve the Friends line.”
It’s a bold hope, especially when Lego reports that Friends line is “off to a very strong start” just the way it is. But it would be wise for a company founded nearly 50 years ago with the imperative to create toys for “girls and for boys” to remember that goal doesn’t mean “girl toys and boy toys.” We don’t need to ostracize our sons and daughters to the divergent wildernesses of ninja land and beauty parlors.
Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China
Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti
“Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA
Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.
Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada
Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway
Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.
Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.
Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million
Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.
Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon
Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.
Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico
Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.
Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.