The Perilous Convention of Gender Reveal Parties

Mehru Adnan, News Editor

What comes to mind when you think of gender reveals? Friends and family, pink and blue decorations or multi-state wildfires that cross over 10,000 acres?

Since their birth (pun intended) in 2008, gender reveal parties have swept the nation, growing in their extravagance. Each year brings a new wave of over-the top-celebrations as parents vie for attention on social media, a catalyst for some of the crazy antics that make headlines.

But some gender reveal parties are beginning to take a dangerous turn. With the El Dorado wildfires being linked to a gender reveal mishap, it might be time to retire this antiquated trend. 

It’s not news to anyone that gender reveal parties have gotten out of hand these past couple of years. The recent California wildfires are just the latest in a long line of reported disasters, preceded by the death of an Iowa woman from explosive debris in 2019, and devastating wildfires in Southern Arizona in 2017, which cost 8 million dollars in damages. 

Aside from the concerning fact that regular citizens seem to have unlimited access to explosives, these incidents also demonstrate the level to which social media has compounded the need for people to create a reveal bigger and better than the last. Family vloggers are able to utilize a pregnancy for content and attention. The desire for views has become very prominent, but at what cost? And how did we even get here?

The original gender reveal didn’t have a dazzling showcase of fireworks or an alligator biting a watermelon with blue jelly. It started with a simple cake. In 2008, Jenna Karvunidis, expecting her first child, wanted an excuse to throw a party with her family. After a little convincing, her family gathered and witnessed Karvunidis cut into a pink-frosted cake, setting off a cultural sensation that continues to haunt her to this day. Karvunidis now pleads for people to stop with the theatrics. 

They’re physically harmful for many obvious reasons… but they’re also very socially harmful,” Karvunidis said in an interview with The Daily Show.

Karvunidis’ daughter Bianca, for whom the party was thrown, doesn’t conform to gender stereotypes, preferring suits to dresses. Bianca is just one example of the ways that gender reveals perpetuate harmful conventions, alienating the LGBTQ+ community. LGBTQ+ youth, especially trans youth, are at a higher risk to commit suicide and suffer from depression due to the frequent discrimination they are forced to face. Gender reveals only sustain the unyielding stereotypes that lead to this type of intolerance. 

Why do we feel the need to isolate a child’s personality through their gender? Though we understand logically that gender does not determine our personalities, we continue to impose certain expectations on children before they’re even born. Some speculate the surge of popularity in gender reveals to be a reaction to the increased awareness of non-binary and transgender youth. If this is the case, the popularity of gender reveals currently serves as a good barometer to determine the amount of progress we still need to make in order to finally shed our long-held beliefs about gender. 

Whatever the reason for this craze may be, we need to acknowledge the harm caused by this absurd tradition and investigate our desire to box children into an identity during a time meant for self-exploration. 

It may take some time for us to move away from the archaic custom of gender reveal parties, but we cannot continue to overlook dangerous stunts that put private property, people and our environment at risk. And if you want to downsize and cut into a pink cake instead, go ahead, but remember to look outside the pink aisle.