Changing the Narrative recently launched an anti-ageist birthday card campaign, seeking to limit some negative connotations of ageing often included in cards.
According to their website, birthday cards for older people inundate them with negative stereotypes, portraying them as sleepy, crabby and weak.
According to the organization, “we need alternatives – birthday cards that celebrate age.” So it sought out Colorado artists to create them.
“I think I saw a post on Facebook that they were looking for Colorado artists and I thought, ‘that would be fun,” said Salida artist Sue Ann Hum.
Hum has been working with her left hand, which is her non-dominant hand, because she said it gives more freedom. With her right hand when she paints portraits, she said she is very concerned that all of the proportions are correct and other details.
Using her non-dominant hand, however, has opened up more possibilities for her. “It’s fun to see where it goes; it’s helped me be a more intuitive artist,” she said. “I love being expressive and it’s certainly that.”
Eventually Hum created a card with a woman wearing a hat that has birthday candles on it and an outfit made from flowers.
It reads: “She woke up, put on her birthday hat & said, ‘this calls for some champagne & shenanigans.’”
On the inside, it says, “Great plan, girlfriend – count me in!”
It also has a story on the back: “Sylvie shows up as our Birthday Girl. She loves the south of France, so dresses in sunflowers whenever she gets the chance. Every year for her birthday she goes somewhere she’s not yet been or does something she’s never done before. Sylvie knows how to celebrate her life, and so of course she has a dedicated party hat.”
Hum was one of 22 artists from the state who was selected for the campaign.
“I was really honored to be selected,” Hum said, noting how many artists reside in the state. “It was just a really cool opportunity.”
The cards are available at https://changingthenarrativeco.org/anti-ageist-birthday-card-gallery/, as well as Hum’s website, https://sueannhum.com/.
“I think the (anti-ageism) movement has found its time,” Hum said. “People are living longer and older people are feeling more invigorated. As we age, we’re not losing our zest for living life to the fullest.”
Hum, who will turn 70 in August, also has some experience with ageism.
“I think most women have had an experience that when we reach a certain age, we’re invisible,” Hum said, recalling a time she waited 40 minutes for help in a shoe store while the staff helped everyone but her.
Changing the Narrative, in collaboration with FrameWorks Institute, has researched how the public thinks about aging and ageism, and is testing messages that could shift thinking in a positive direction. This campaign is a continuation of that effort.
Hum also did a line of holiday cards this year and plans to do more cards for all occasions in the future.