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I have four nieces and every time I go to buy a birthday card for them, I despair of what’s on offer. They are all creative, smart, independent young women, with huge potential and very different interests, and yet the cards on offer are invariably pink and girly, with soppy images, or references to shoes and appearance. I’ve found one that I like with the phrase ‘Adventure is waiting’ on the front, but having given that to each of them, I need some more options. I amended the card above for my niece Georgie last month and sent it to her because I couldn’t find anything else. She is all those things and more.

I know that the younger you are, the less interest you have in birthday cards. You open them to see if there’s any money in them, or because they’re stuck on the front of a present. But I think young women are under enormous pressure to conform to a very stereotypical femininity and they need wisdom and guts to navigate that and remain true to themselves. I don’t want to contribute in any way to the message that what’s most important about them is their appearance or their size, even through a poor choice of birthday card. I want to encourage my nieces, my sisters and my friends to dream big, to explore the world, to develop their own personalities, gifts and potential, to have hope for the future and great expectations for their place in the world. I know that takes far more than a birthday card to achieve all that, but it’s one place to start.

I’m thinking of developing some cards for young women that open up their horizons, that affirm their potential, that encourage them to dare, to dream and to have adventure. I suspect there are lots of young men who would benefit from them as well. I’d love to know what you think. Would you buy something like this? Do you know of anywhere that is doing something similar? What ideas do you have for birthday cards that would fit the bill?

9 thoughts on “A small bit of subversion

  1. Great idea. My sister and I often end up getting each the the same card or buying the same one as the year before (often without realising). Customising/refashioning is one way around having to choose one about shoes, alcohol or cake. Although I do like all of those, they aren’t exactly inspiring!

  2. Yes! I also hate the ‘getting older is crap’ strain of card design too; getting older is fabulous! I tend to go for the blank cards that use interesting photo artwork because the anodyne offerings just don’t work.

  3. Yes to the cards Jenny! Even a lack of pink would be an improvement. I have two nieces and every card is a fairy/princess. Finding a brunette is tricky too. Girls doing anything active in an exciting landscape -photograph or fantasy drawing.

  4. Yes! Do it! And while you’re at it, let’s have some mothers’ day cards that are not about shoes, kittens or everything falling apart at home because the woman is having her one day off in the year.

  5. I would defenetly buy something like this! I was bought up with my mum saying she doesn’t want a pink card for bday / mothers day, and with no soppy teddies or poems.. It was a hard feat but I did it every year! Now I have a daughter who is bright strong confident and who I don’t want to see getting valued on her worth by how she looks and this would help massively! Maybe some cards for no specific gender would be good. Also getting cards for my dad who rarely drinks, doesn’t watch football, burp, fart or hog the remote, whos not ruled by my mum a card that suits! Will be keeping my eye on this project and be purchasing cards as soon as I can! 😀😀

  6. This is a great idea! I have twin girls and trying to find 2 decent cards is a nightmare! One of them is in to dinosaurs this year and there’s nothing. To be honest I think boys cards are naff too. If they’re not into football you’re stuffed! X

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