Buying birthday cards is something we all frequently do. We try to match the card to the person: their hobbies; their sense of humour; their favourite colour. This process is easy for adults due to the wide range of cards available. However, when buying cards for children, especially when wanting a card with an age on it, this process becomes confusing.
It is my cousin’s daughter’s 4th birthday at the start of May and I went to buy her a card. When standing in front of the array of cards the lack of variety was so noticeable; cards aimed at boys were red and blue with pictures of dinosaurs and cars whilst the cards aimed at girls had shades of pink and lilac with pictures of princesses and flowers. There was a clear divide with girls’ cards to the left and boys’ cards to the right. I stood looking for a while to see if there was an alternative to this gender stereotyping but, alas, I could not find anything different. I chose a card that was the lesser of many evils; a yellow number 4 with a dog painting pink and lilac flowers.
The choice of a birthday card is only something minor and many of you reading this may believe I am being too politically correct and sensitive. However, please consider one of these situations. You have a son who is a talented dancer or artist and has no interest in cars, football or dinosaurs. You have a daughter who loves superheroes, football or trains but hates the colour pink. Which card do you buy for them? You can, of course, pick an appropriate card that matches their interests; after all the choice is yours, you don’t have to follow societal conventions and norms. However, we have been conditioned to look at those two rows of cards and automatically, subconsciously, decide which are for boys and which are for girls. Viewpoints are changing, barriers are being broken, but maybe shops can do something very simple to help: mix the cards up!