Sunday, July 24, 2016

Lego Gone Girly

When I was a little girl, I had--what I believe--was an impressive collection of the Lego Castle system. The bricks were gray and black in--what I imagine--was an attempt to make them look realistic. I LOVED spending an afternoon going through the entire process of building one or more sets. Looking back now, it is possible that I exhibited some OCDish tendencies early on: I would never build a castle until I had first sorted all the bricks. The joy of following the directions to ultimately build the structure was second to the elation I felt after successfully sorting all the bricks into nice, neat, little piles.

In addition to my Castle Lego collection,  I also had a giant blue case that had a random assortment of bricks and people. Basically, I kept all my non-castle Lego sets in there. It was just a hodge-podge mess of green base plates and red, yellow, green, blue, and white bricks. And flowers. (Those Lego flowers really added a little je ne sais quoi to my creations.) 

I have to admit that the first time I saw Lego being marketed to girls, I bristled a little. I didn't need Lego bricks in "girly" colors. Then I saw this:

Initially, I was outraged. Decades of gender-coding have resulted in this Frozen Lego set. Does everything have to be gender-coded? If kids won't play with something because of its color, then there is something wrong with that. And yes, I interpret that as an indicator that we are failing as a society. 

Maybe I'm guilty of it too. For a while I was maintaining two gym bags: A pink one that had my pink and purple gym clothes and a blue one that had my black and blue gym clothes. Each one had Nike tennis shoes that would match everything in the respective bag. In my defense, I never thought of them as my girl and boy bags though. It was just always convenient to work out of one bag each week while washing the clothes in the other. The different-colored bags to match the clothes . . . well, there is a saying that goes "Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world." I say give that girl a matching bag!

That Lego catalog sat on my dining room table for a while and I just kept thinking about it every time I saw it. The more I thought about it though, the more I began to soften and see it differently. I love pink and purple. I didn't as a little girl, but if the woman I am today were a little girl, she would love to have so many colors to choose from in her giant Lego brick. Yes, kids today get to store their Lego bricks in awesome, giant, Lego-shaped boxes. They are so lucky--not just because of their cute, clever storage options, but because they have more colors to choose from when building. As a classroom teacher, I always wanted my kids to have as many options as possible when it came to building their futures. Sadly, I know there is no correlation between the number of Lego color options available and future success. I know that many kids with big dreams today will grow up and still face limited options as they enter adulthood tomorrow. I also know this is especially true for some girls and that breaks my heart.

Today I applaud Lego for what they are doing. "Girls" is now a category on the Lego website. Maybe some cynics out there will see it as a way to increase sales. If pink and purple bricks thrown into the mix, get more girls playing with Lego sets and building, then I'm for it. Why shouldn't a girl have to build her dream house before she plays house? Why should she have to rely on someone (notice I didn't say "man") to give it to her? If building a hair salon inspires a girl to want to run her own business someday, I'm for it. And the White House comes up under the Girls category too. 


If the Frozen set above is the gateway to future building, then I'm for it. Build on, girls. Build on.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Project 52: Shot 26

A Sad Moment You Want to Remember (June 29, 2016)

My grandmother passed away on December 31st, 2015. Those of you who know me well know the role she played in my life and the impact she had on it. We buried her at the beginning of the year and when I started this project, I knew right away that I wanted this shot to somehow be about Mami Tere. I also knew it would probably be my most difficult one--not technically, but emotionally. I haven't been back to her grave since the day we buried her, but I knew I would have to go if I wanted this shot.

I wanted this picture to match the emotion of the moment we buried her, and in my head, I imagined using flowers to create something beautiful and artistic. I chose a small bouquet of roses because Mami Tere would take me to offer flowers to the Virgin Mary when I was a little girl. Unfortunately, one of the first things I noticed when I got to the cemetery is that it didn't look the way I remembered it: the dreariness of that cloudy, winter morning had been replaced by the brightness of a sunny, summer afternoon. As a result, my photos were too bright and too green. My memories of that day are dark and gray so I knew this was going to require some work in Lightroom. My cousin, Alan, had passed along some tips--and I tried them--but I still wasn't getting the effect I wanted. What I wanted was a black and white shot with only the flowers in color. So I Googled it and after watching two videos, this is what I was able to come up with. 

I'm happy with this shot. I feel the black and white captures the sadness of the original moment, and the color represents the love and positive memories that are left behind when someone passes. (Patrick Swayze's words from Ghost in this scene have always brought me comfort regarding that.) There is a good chance I will look back at this shot six months from now and shudder at how bad it is based on my future knowledge and skills, but as I look back at my photos so far, I think it's a good first: my first time knowing how I wanted a shot to ultimately look and being able to achieve that as opposed to just clicking various presets until I find one that makes me say "I think that looks good. I'll do that."

You may or may not have noticed the number of this shot: 26. I'm halfway done with my challenge!

And in case you're wondering where I got the flowers . . . I went to the Urban Florist on Mountain, and I wouldn't include a link if I wasn't happy with their service. =)