DENVER, Colo. — Frustrated by the racks of birthday card options that mock older adults, the anti-ageism group Changing the Narrative is making birthday card shopping fun again, producing ”age-positive” cards—designed by Colorado artists—that reflect the true joys of growing older.
A contest attracting submissions from over 60 Colorado artists resulted in 23 winning birthday card designs to be part of a collection of age-positive cards. The diverse group of artists and their designs share one thing: an understanding that age is something to celebrate.
Changing the Narrative challenges the notion perpetuated in many birthday cards that with each year, older adults become weak, deaf, forgetful, and crabby. According to traditional cards, we should feel bad about aging and acknowledge that getting older means going downhill. In an effort to be humorous, some of the cards portray older adults as bench-sitting curmudgeons, boozy women in wheel-chairs, flatulent grandparents, or lecherous old men. But ageism isn’t funny, it’s harmful.
Recent studies found that on a daily basis, 82 percent of older adults report experiencing forms of everyday ageism. Other studies show how that this may be harmful to our health: older adults who reported experiencing three or more forms of “everyday ageism” had worse physical and mental health than those who reported fewer forms of ageism.
“It’s time to celebrate age! Older adults are often curious, active, and engaged, yet so many of my birthday card choices mock older adults or make aging seem like a period of decline, depression, and dependence,” said Janine Vanderburg, Director of Changing the Narrative. “The fact is, we are living longer and healthier lives that give us the chance to do more and become more. Older age has its own unique benefits to celebrate and now we’ve made cards to do just that.”
“We all know older adults whom we admire and respect,” continued Vanderburg. “Ageism diminishes us all and limits our potential to use the insights and ingenuity that older adults can offer. Birthday cards are just a small example of the serious matter of ageism. Now, locally-designed greeting cards that honor the one thing that all of us have in common—getting older—are available.”
Over twenty wildly creative artists used a wide range of techniques to create cards based on their perspectives from across many spectrums – gender, race, geography, (dis)abilities, and importantly, age. For more information on how to support older adults and local artists through these birthday cards, please visit changingthenarrativeco.org.
Changing the Narrative Colorado is a campaign to shift the way Coloradans think, talk and act about aging, ageism and older adults and is a partnership of NextFifty Initiative and Rose Community Foundation