An Open Letter to the Man Who Asked My Three-Year-Old Son Why He Was Buying a Girls' Magazine

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.

My eldest has reached the age where he can pick his own things, like magazines, and the boy likes magazines. Scratch that. The boy 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, which was in fact the Disney Princess magazine, before 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 my eldest why he was buying a girls magazine, this is why he picked a "girls" magazine.

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.


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

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