To the man who asked my 3 year old son why he was buying a girls magazine

To the man who asked my  3 year old son why he was buying a girls magazine

The Big One likes magazines.  Scratch that.  The Big One loves magazines, mainly for the free toys but we do actually read them too.  I am trying to limit how many of them I buy, they are littering the house and we have enough plastic tat to last a lifetime, so we are down to one a week.  That doesn’t stop him looking every time we go into a shop, staring longingly at the shiny pages and the toys.  Which is where he first saw what he referred to as “the Ariel magazine” and the stage was set, that was the magazine he was picking for this week.  So on Saturday, traditional pocket money day, we headed up to the shop where he delightedly ran and picked up the Ariel magazine, proudly handing it over to man at the till, clutching his three pound coins in his hand, one excited face ready to read about Ariel when the man turned round and said

Oh, you’re buying a girls magazine?

Utter disbelief from me.  A quizzical look from my 3 year old who quickly piped up with

No, this is the Ariel magazine

We paid and left.  I have stewed.  I have wondered what I should have said.  I have reassured my 3 year old that magazines aren’t for girls, and aren’t for boys, that different people like different things and he likes Ariel and princesses, but he also likes cars and trains, magic and reading, running in the garden and playing at being Fireman Sam.  That these are the things that make him unique, special, him.  And so to the man who asked the Big One why he was buying a girls magazine, this is why he picked a “girls” magazine.

To the man who asked my 3 year old son why he was buying a girls magazine2

To the man who asked my 3 year old why he was buying a girls magazine,

He wasn’t buying a “girls magazine”

He was buying a princess magazine. He likes princesses. And pirates. And cars. And Paw Patrol. And trains. And magic. He likes a lot of things you see, princesses just happen to be one of the things he likes. Just one small portion of his personality. The personality that defines him as a person.

It’s probably down to media and gender stereotyping that you’d assume a pink princess magazine was marketed at girls. I get that, truly I do, before I had my boys I’d have probably thought the same, thanks to marketing. The thing is, since having my boys I’ve realised that there are no “girl toys” no “boy toys” that toys are simply that, toys. Designed to stimulate young minds, encourage active role play and help them gain confidence in themselves. This is the message we need to pass to our children, to build their confidence in THEIR choices.

So what if my 3 year old wants to read a princess magazine because it had a princess necklace on. (And let’s just ignore the fact that said princess necklace broke within 3 seconds).  To him, it wasn’t just a princess necklace, it was a magic princess amulet to ward away the monsters, which he is then going to scare away with his pirate sword.

Yes.  Today he is both a princess, and a pirate.  (And a fireman)

Who knows what he will be in an hour, in a day, in a week, a month, a year, 10 years, 20 years even.  His mind changes as he grows, as his imagination develops, as he becomes more and more sure of himself.  For now, what I can do for him is to give him the confidence to be sure in his choices.  To be sure that he is doing the right thing for him if and when others look at him scornfully, or doubting, or scathingly.  To give him the confidence so that he can go on to be the best that he can be in whatever he wants to be, with our full support, our full backing and a hell of a lot of love.

If he wants to buy a princess magazine, that you believe is aimed at girls, he will buy a princess magazine.

So in answer to your question as to why he was buying a girls magazine?

Because he wanted too.

Yours,

A mum who has a pirate princess magician son running round wielding his pirate sword and wearing his princess necklace as I type….

You can also find me over on Facebook which is my happy place.

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22 Comments

    • July 4, 2016 / 7:25 am

      Wrote and sang!! I did think of your performance as I was writing it!

  1. July 4, 2016 / 9:11 am

    People are just ignorant aren’t they? I doubt he’s even intelligent enough to realise that gender stereotypes are nonsense. My girls bought a Thomas the tank engine magazine this week.
    Nat.x
    Plutonium Sox recently posted…National Sea Life Centre: 20 year anniversaryMy Profile

  2. July 4, 2016 / 2:55 pm

    Oh! This is one of the most beautiful posts I have read. Because I feel just the same. Last year, when my boy was three we could spend hours reading about all the Disney’s princesses (‘The Beauty and the Beast’ was one of his favourite) and I had never found anything to worry about. Now, he is not that interested in them anymore (and honestly, I wish he was as I love princess tales haha). This is the magical world of children, not of boys and girls. It’s awful when people judge without giving it a thought first!

  3. July 4, 2016 / 4:30 pm

    I agree wit TIm, it is really sad when people say things like this. I never understand what their point is – and how it has anything to do with them. It’s great you let your son play with what he wants to play with. Society shouldn’t dictate what boys & girls should & shouldn’t do or play with. x
    Becky, Cuddle Fairy recently posted…June 2016 at a GlanceMy Profile

  4. July 4, 2016 / 4:52 pm

    It’s such a shame people still feel the need to say that. With a little girl the same age who is equally likely to be a pirate princess, a ninja turtle or a magical bear, I just love their incredible imaginations, their enthusiasm, the fact they don’t have any of these restrictions in their head…. until society finally manages to box and categorise them in accepted norms, which is the saddest part
    Cathy (MummyTravels) recently posted…Packing essentials – getting contact lenses on holidayMy Profile

  5. July 4, 2016 / 5:54 pm

    This is a lovely post. My little boy and I are forever picking up these magazines from our local shop – like your son, sometimes mine will pickup the Thomas tank engine one or a dinosaur one and then the next time, it could be Peppa Pig or My Little Pony. I think people tend to gender stereotype a lot more when it’s boys who like “girly” things than girls because somehow it’s more “normal” and accepted by society that girls can be tomboys but boys can be feminine.

  6. July 5, 2016 / 10:17 pm

    This such a shame. Why can’t children be children and toys be toys? Childhood is so short (and getting shorter!) Let’s all let them be free to be whatever they want to be and do whatever they want to do.
    A pirate princess magician sounds like lots of fun! =)

  7. July 8, 2016 / 6:30 am

    My son’s the same. He totters around in heels better than his sister.

    Part of me wonders how long it will last. Not that it’s a phase but that as he grows older he will start to self police his interests as he meets other boys (and parents) that don’t feel the same.

    #effitfriday

  8. July 8, 2016 / 8:25 am

    It would be a dull old world if everyone liked the same things, regardless of age! I’ve certainly been partial to a Disney Princess or two over the years and I’ve turned out (mostly!!) fine! #effitfridays
    James Hopes recently posted…I Do Like To Be Beside the SeasideMy Profile

  9. July 8, 2016 / 9:39 am

    what a douche! honestly, some people need to just engage their brain first… the preteen loved/loves cars, and she did question once if they were boys toys.. absolutely not! as you say a toy is a toy, and a child will play with ANY toy (or want any magazine) that simply looks fun… although I have to agree those toys on the magazine are utter rubbish! 😉 #effitfriday
    Laughing Mum recently posted…Fly Me Straight To Day 2! – A Holiday ChecklistMy Profile

  10. July 8, 2016 / 3:43 pm

    What an eeediot. And you’ve made a brilliant point! I think kids should actively be encouraged to enjoy any kind of game regardless of gender, and I sometimes go out of my way to try a typical ‘boy’ game with my daughter just to show her there are no limits. She loves playing with trucks and footballs and prefers Pirate Pete to The Potty Princess book.

    What’s so worrying is that this type of attitude is seen in the workplace still. It’s almost our duty to ensure we try and change it!
    Topfivemum recently posted…Gourmet toddlerMy Profile

  11. July 8, 2016 / 6:47 pm

    Good on you. There’s too many gender stereotypes and I wouldn’t stop my girls playing with toys because they’re classed as boys toys. Idiot. Should have kept his opinion to himself! #effitfriday
    Fran Back With a Bump recently posted…For Blog’s SakeMy Profile

  12. July 8, 2016 / 8:01 pm

    I get why Mr Shopkeeper said it, but his attitude is ignorant and outdated. He gets his sale, why does he care?! I love this whole movement away from gender stereotyping and marketing. Let them choose. Fab post Laura, thank you for hosting #effitfriday xx

  13. July 8, 2016 / 8:21 pm

    I concur with sentiments above that you are a super rad momma for this post, for providing your son with a plethora of reading materials that will stimulate his wonderfully open and magical mind far beyond what any nay-sayer can comprehend. I just adore the fact that not only does he love to read and explore new print, but that he does so on his own accord. How wonderful! Thank you so much for posting, and for documenting this for others who need to look further into issues then simply what is perceived by the cover. Xx, Lace #effitfriday

  14. July 9, 2016 / 5:45 pm

    You said it girl! And the more our children are raised to know that their choice is valid whatever colour or character or *whatever*, the better our world will be. The other day I asked O who his favourite girl at nursery was. He told me Alice. I then asked him who his favourite boy was. He looked at me and said “No boy mummy, only people”. If only we all looked at the world this way! And btw his favourite people is Alice!
    Lisa Savage recently posted…My baby starts school in September – what am I going to do?My Profile

  15. July 9, 2016 / 6:33 pm

    Well said Laura! As you know I’ve had a similar experience this week and it left me pretty dumbfounded – I wish my little one hadn’t been swayed away from his choice, at least your little guy stood his ground and knew it was ok – thats fantastic! Good on him!!!

  16. July 15, 2016 / 4:33 pm

    I once arrived at my son’s nursery to find him running around in a pink, yellow, turquoise, sparkly fairy dress. I must admit for a split second I was left thinking “What the….?” but then realised how wonderful it was. It was the cutest thing and I’m so annoyed I didn’t have a camera to hand to snap the moment.
    I think it’s wonderful your son enjoys the Princess Magazine. Good for him!
    #effitfriday

  17. January 22, 2017 / 9:40 am

    My son’s are now 24 and 21. When my youngest was a toddler he desperately wanted a Barbie, a baby doll and a pushchair. We had action men and pirates, as having two boys we only had ‘typical’ boys toys. My husband wasn’t sure at the time and some friends raised their eyes in surprise, but we did buy them for him. I felt if I had a mixed family he would have had access to such toys and not buying them was adding to his desire and curiosity. He had lots of fun role playing with them and as he became older Barbie became action man’s girlfriend! It was a phase he grew out of. He is perfectly well adjusted now with not surprisingly, a fantastic creative streak!

  18. Lucy
    April 7, 2017 / 12:57 pm

    A wonderful post and a great reaction to this shopkeepers obvious ignorance to the minds of a three year old. My son age 3 also has a plethora of toys including a kitchen with all the pots and pans which he loves. He also loves all the atypical boys stuff. The only point I would make is while actively encouraging my 3 year old to make his own choices I still teach him the very obvious differences between boys and girls due to him questioning whether his girl cousin had the same bits to pee haha out of the mouths of babes

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