Wednesday, May 17, 2017

If everybody's off being an engineer, who's going to do my highlights?

Lately all around the internet I’ve been seeing memes that look like this:

On the right we have a little girl with a ‘look at what I made!’ grin proudly displaying her creation.  On the left we have a pre-designed Lego beauty salon.  Shown side by side a Twitter user asks, “What happened?”  Meaning when did toy marketing become so sexist? (I agree, what is up with that?)

But this is a comparison of apples to oranges.   Pre-designed sets tend to limit imagination regardless of their target market.  You follow the directions, build the thing to make it look like the box cover and it’s done.  

By comparison, a big tub of loose Legos has infinite possibilities, becoming anything your imagination can dream up!  But this isn’t what was meant by the comparison of the little girl building her own cool thing vs. the beauty shop set. 

What is implied is that the Lego Salon promotes negative stereotypes for girls because dialogue of these dolls focuses on physical appearances.  

To be fair, if you look on the Lego website, they don't actually say these are for only boys or only girls.

This little girl, and millions like her, might become an architect or structural engineer.  

How dare Lego perpetuate low self esteem with vapid babble about beauty tips!  Right? 

Isn’t this just another example of how girls are taught to prioritize attractiveness over intelligence? 

In this case I have to say, no.  I don’t think it is.

Look AGAIN at what’s being said in those word bubbles. Look at the scene.  Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Natasha, the Lego lady on the left, is holding scissors.  She’s giving her professional opinion and reassuring a nervous customer.  She tells us her job title.  Natasha’s there to work.  The doll sitting in the chair looks like a customer but she’s also offering advice about choosing a hairstyle.  I did a little Googling and found out her name is Emma, as in the “Emma’s Beauty Tips” headline up in the corner.  She too is there to work.  It’s not just another superficial ‘sit still and look pretty’ trope.

The field of cosmetology is dominated by women, and judging by the bill at my last visit to the salon, it’s a valid career choice.  Being a stylist requires professional certification or a two year Associate’s Degree. Successful hair stylists have a skill set of above average interpersonal skills, manual dexterity, creativity and (like engineering) an ability for three dimensional thinking. It’s true you probably won’t be pulling a six figure salary like an investment banker, but you can definitely support yourself and eventually open your own salon.


We’ve been empowering girls with this message since the early 80s.  But somewhere along the way, we stopped asking, “What do you want to be?”  Ages ago math and science were considered ‘too hard’ for girls, much better suited to boys.  That was and is complete BS.  But in our efforts to ensure that young girls aren’t being dissuaded from STEM careers, have we forgotten to keep asking, “What do you like to do?” 

We hear over and over that women can do the same jobs as men and that we should earn as much as men.  (Yeah we should!)  I think what’s not being heard enough though is that traditionally female jobs are equally worthwhile if those are the interests that our daughters wish to pursue.  

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Black Stash Jacket parts 4 & 5

So we wrapped up our production of Peter and the Starcatcher.  Black Stash's jacket was (I thought) complete.  I had the collar buttoned down.  Note our poor mannequin with burn marks on the neck from when we used a heat gun to mold plastic armor.
 The lining was as in as it was going to go.
 Here is the side view, something has changed though, did you catch it?
 And I added more navy fabric to the hem to bolster up the yellow and royal stripes at the bottom.

 Back view with the mitered trim. It never did hang exactly right.  If I do another jacket remake like this (and it is likely) I'll probably just line each piece of the coat individually.
 The front view.  I added gold buttons onto the end of each stripe.
So you might have noticed that the cuffs are different from when I first started.The reason for this is twofold:  The style of cuffs I'd made were very floppy and the actors wearing the coat found them distracting.  So I made a more fitted cuff with yellow and blue stripes to match the front of the coat. But secondly, and more importantly, the right cuff needed to be a trick sleeve.


It is very important as a costumer to pay attention to the script and I confess that when I began the jacket I had not read it all the way through  At the end of the play, Black Stash has his hand cut off and he becomes dun-dun-DUN Captain Hook.
So I had to rig the sleeve to come down and cover the actor's hand to make it look like it's been cut off, also it had to be quick and easy for her to do with one hand.  I thought the red Velcro looked a bit like blood.

Here you can see where one arm is longer than the other.  So there you have it, how a plain old blue blazer becomes a tricked out pirate coat.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Black Stash Jacket part 3

 I added more yellow around the edge of the jacket to hide the raw edges of the yellow and blue bars.
The very last bar was meant to wrap around the edge of the bottom of the jacket,
but the fabric had begun to fray very badly and it just was not working.  So i seam ripped the whole mess out of there and started over. 

I added new trim that went up and around in mitered corners, which were tricky since they are not all right angles.  I had to just keep eyeballing it until it lined up nicely.  I probably could have used a protractor but I didn't have one.
 The next part was adding lining.  I used old lining from a bathrobe we had in stock.  I would not recommend this as it didn't line up exactly and was very fiddly to attach.
 I got it there in the end but if I'd known it was going to be so annoying I would have just partially lined the front where the appliqued bars are.

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