By Ryn Montgomery
What exactly is a gender reveal party? The idea was unofficially adopted thirteen years ago when L.A. based mother and blogger, Jenna Karvunidis’s, video of her cutting into a pink cake went viral. Initially, the celebration consisted of couples engaging in activities such as cutting into cakes or popping balloons to reveal the gender of the baby based on the color inside: pink or blue. These parties seemed to be a fun and interactive way to involve family, friends, and even the couple themselves in the celebration and excitement that comes with not only having a baby, but discovering if it is a boy or a girl.
Since its seemingly innocent inception, however, these parties have grown not only in popularity but also in scale and grandiosity. A couple in Dubai rented out the tallest sky-scraper for a blue light show, another featured an alligator biting into a watermelon squirting blue jelly. Along with these, there have been parties of equal grandeur, but lesser execution. In September 2020, a pyrotechnic device used at a party caused a wildfire that “burned more than 13,000 acres of land” and resulted in “3,000 resident evacuations.” From “2019-2021 around 60,000 acres of land were destroyed” due to malfunctions of “over-the-top” gender reveal parties.
These parties have been further called into question recently given the rise in awareness and understanding around gender fluidity, nonconformity, and implications. Outsiders have begun to wonder what role these parties play in reinforcing stringent views of gender that have resulted in backlash and discomfort with people who do not identify as what they were assigned at birth. These parties have been criticized for their adherence to “gender norms” such as the colors that are used and the idea that gender is the same as sex. Whether or not these parties will continue to hold the popularity they have attained since 2008 is unclear, but the need for a discussion about their impact and implications perhaps is.