Card 2: Depicting a non-white girl surrounded by the color pink and the words "Happy Birthday
Princess," this card emphasizes traditional gender roles and expectations. By labeling the girl as
a "princess," the card suggests that girls of all ethnic backgrounds should aspire to become
princesses, reinforcing the idea of beauty and grace as key feminine qualities. This can lead to a
narrow view of what is considered appropriate for girls from diverse backgrounds, potentially
perpetuating racial and gender stereotypes.
Card 3: Featuring a white girl dressed as a ballerina and holding a ballerina ribbon, this card is
set against a pink, star-filled background. The card reinforces traditional gender roles and
expectations for girls, emphasizing the importance of elegance, grace, and beauty. The focus on
the ballerina as a symbol of femininity may limit the girl's perceived interests and aspirations,
suggesting that she should only engage in traditionally feminine activities.
Card 4: This card shows a young boy dressed as a superhero alongside a dog wearing a superhero
costume. The background features words such as "BIF," "POW," and "ZAP," suggesting action,
excitement, and physical prowess. The card reinforces traditional gender roles for boys,
emphasizing strength, bravery, and heroism as key masculine qualities. However, the card also
potentially limits the range of interests and aspirations for boys, suggesting that they should
focus on physical activities and adventures rather than nurturing or caring roles.
Card 5: Depicting a boy wearing an astronaut suit and flying through space, this card portrays
adventure, exploration, and ambition as important masculine qualities. The card encourages boys
to dream big and pursue careers in STEM fields, reinforcing traditional gender roles and
expectations. While promoting ambition and exploration is positive, the focus on traditionally
masculine pursuits may exclude boys who are interested in more nurturing or artistic activities.
Card 6: Featuring a black boy wearing a basketball jersey and holding a basketball, this card
celebrates the boy's athletic talent. The background message, "Happy Birthday to a smart, kind,
strong, talented boy," acknowledges multiple aspects of the boy's character, promoting a more
balanced view of masculinity. This card offers a more inclusive message, acknowledging diverse
interests and qualities. However, the emphasis on sports may still perpetuate the stereotype that
black boys are primarily valued for their athletic abilities.
In Conclusion , children may adopt gendered and racialized beliefs by observing and imitating
the messages in these cards. As they repeatedly encounter such messages, they may learn to
associate specific colors, themes, and images with their gender, thus reinforcing traditional
gender roles and racial biases. The detailed analysis of these six cards illustrates the ways in
which birthday cards can reinforce traditional gender roles and expectations while also
highlighting the progress being made towards a more equitable view of gender roles. To continue
promoting a more inclusive and equitable society, it is crucial to be mindful of the messages
conveyed through children's birthday cards. To challenge these limiting messages, it is crucial to
encourage the production and use of more diverse and inclusive children's birthday cards that
represent a broader range of interests, themes, and racial and ethnic backgrounds. This will allow
children to explore their identities more freely and foster a more inclusive and equitable society.