GoldieBlox may have generated too big of an anticlimax in its video “GoldieBlox vs. The Big Sister machine” by going too small on diversity with its blond- haired Caucasian action figure. Meanwhile, the concept of making STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) toys more accessible and attractive to girls is still just right.
After watching the video and reading numerous online debates sparked by the company’s choices for its premier doll to interface with its construction sets, I wonder if the Big Bad Wolf in the room is the fact that this toy is perhaps dividing the mom community, rather than uniting it to support STEM toys for girls.
Personally, I adore this toy, what it stands for, and where it can take girls.
So I’m worried that the new video released Wednesday on YouTube, which introduces the new action figure, distracted from the message and value of the toys by leaving some fans feeling a bit betrayed.
The figure revealed at the end of the video has articulating arms, hips, and legs that can hold tools and use a zipline. The action figure’s feet plug into axles of the toy building sets, allowing her to interact with what has been built.
However, some moms commented on social media that they felt a bit betrayed by the company’s choice to go with a perhaps more marketable blond, white, skinny girl, thus making the toys less relatable due to the non-blond of different races.
The video begins with a variety of little girls princessed-out in cookie-cutter fashion, pink gowns, pink heels, fur vests and poker straight hair, heading down a runway towards a conveyor belt full of similar-looking dolls.
As a machine spits out perfect dolls dressed and coiffed the same as the girls, viewers know that the rebel must be coming down the long runway of perfect little girls in pink heels.
The rebel anthem “Help I’m Alive” by music duo Metric plays. Along comes the GoldieBlox’s hero in her sneakers, blue overalls, tool belt, fluffly blond hair, slim figure, and pale, freckled face.
On the GoldieBlox Facebook page Suroor Raziuddin reacted to the video by posting, “This is a start, but your marketing team needs to look at facts: There are more brunettes in the world than blondes.”
“I just wanted a doll that looked like me when I was a kid. Even my cabbage pack kid was blonde. There is more diversity in dolls, but this goldieBlox are purposely trying to change the status quo. Hoping they will follow up with other diverse dolls,” Ms. Raziuddin added.
Also on the GoldieBlox Facebook page, Jana Borgen posted, “how does another blonde doll with comb-able hair empower girls? she's a role model because she wears sneakers? she's different because she has green eyes instead of blue?”
Numerous supporters of the golden girl action figure quickly shouted these women down in defense of the fact that we should embrace the idea of any girl stepping out of the mold, particularly a blond, since blondes get stereotyped as less than brainy.
Kay Harmon posted on the GoldieBlox wall: “Im also sure that if this gets more popular, they will make other hair types and what not. If they do not, who cares? Its a doll promoting intelligence and breaking from the stereotype that is put on women, and especially blonde women (the most stereotyped of them all). This gets rid of the blonde stereotype, by having a variety of personalities attached to being blonde, and not just one personality. I do not have a kid yet, but you can bet she will have these if I ever have a girl.”
Yes, I know it’s “GoldieBlox” as in, a play on words inspired by the classic tale of Goldilocks. I get the whole marketing theme.
While the video had a good message for girls, it could have been so much more had the company really taken a hammer to the marketing models from the beginning. Why not head out of the traditional comfort zone and make her a brunette with perhaps a darker skin tone and a body type other than super skinny?
Sadly, with all the cool things a girl can build using GoldieBlox, a working time machine is not among them. It seems that GoldieBlox, like Goldilocks, didn’t find the perfect fit on the first round, but is working its way to it, hammer in hand. However, the empowerment message of Goldieblox gives girls more options and empowers them to follow their own, individual path – not necessarily the path that society mandates.
My hope is that when the GoldieBlox float called the "The Girl-Powered Spinning Machine," rolls down the street of New York City in the 88th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in a few weeks, girls of all colors, sizes, and styles will share the limelight together.
Even if that’s not the case, its important for moms to get past the frustration with the marketing of Goldieblox’s and embrace the possibilities for girls and companies to make it past the shapes, sizes, stereotypes, and look forward to the day when STEM is “just right” for all girls.