How are you feeling about your next birthday? Depressed? Over it? Maybe that’s because we need to change the narrative about how we think about aging. What if birthday celebrations became a moment of celebration instead of dread?

Just over a year ago Changing the Narrative, Canopy and Age Friendly Vibes launched Better Birthdays – a campaign which uses birthday cards to talk about age and ageism. One of the goals of the Better Birthdays campaign is to prompt us to stop and think before we reflexively accept the message on that birthday card that suggests that our life is all downhill from here.

Who cares about birthday cards?


Birthdays are the one of the times that we think about our age and birthday cards are a big part of how we celebrate birthdays. The messages in cards are based on our ideas about aging and much of it is negative. Think about all the humorous cards that based on the belief that older people are irrelevant, incapable and ugly. We’ve shared lots of thoughts about this before and as part of our popular anti-ageist birthday card campaign (read about the origins) and led to the Better Birthdays collaboration. 

Here’s some food for thought:

  • What we joke about reflects our values. By stopping to think about the messages in birthday cards, we consider whether these values are useful and whether we want to sustain and spread them.
  • Birthday cards are given in many contexts, including situations where it is clear that ageism is doing damage. For instance, think about giving ageist birthday cards to work colleagues and how that underscores people’s ideas about the value of both older and younger workers.
  • Birthday cards are in the public sphere. They sit on shelves at stores and we display them at work and home. These messages are often negative and we need better alternatives to balance the scales.

Take a stand and own your birthday

Through our anti-ageist birthday campaign and our collaboration with Better Birthdays, we keep hearing that more and more people want to celebrate their age. So, let’s show the world that our birthdays are a time to celebrate. Each year we get older is another year to celebrate.

Take part in the Better Birthdays campaign: #notafraidofmybirthday

Share a picture on social media with the hashtag #NotAfraidofMyBirthday during the month of November. Celebrate all your years and help tell the the world that we want something different. We are not afraid of our birthdays!

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