Gender-reveal parties have become as much a part of pregnancy as weird food cravings and jeans with stretchy waistbands. Around the time the happy parents-to-be find out their baby’s (or babies’) gender, it’s typical for them to gather their closest family and friends to share the information. Sometimes the party has a cute theme, like “Harry Potter,” “Star Wars,” or “Princess or Pirate.” Guests may be asked to dress in blue or pink, according to their prediction. After everyone nibbles their refreshments and debates the reasons they are sure about their guess (She’s carrying high! I dreamed about a boy last night!), the couple reveals the news in some clever fashion. They might cut open a cake to reveal pink or blue sprinkles, or pop a balloon with colored paper inside. Sometimes the parents themselves even opt to be surprised by asking the sonographer to write down the answer, which they then give to the person organizing their party.
Even celebrities like Jessica Simpson, Snooki, Katy Perry, and a host of “Bachelor” alums have opted for the big reveal (via Us Weekly). It has also become a favorite tradition among the married members of the Duggar family. Most recently, Anna Duggar announced both her seventh pregnancy and her baby’s gender by posting an Instagram video showing her and husband Josh opening a clear umbrella from which pink confetti poured out.
But not everyone is on board with this trend. In fact, there are several good reasons to rethink having a gender-reveal at all.
The 'reveal' can be downright dangerous
In the most practical terms, having a gender-reveal party can seem like overkill. The same friends and family members who attended your engagement party, bridal shower, bachelorette night, and wedding might wonder why they are being invited to yet another party — especially if you are also planning to have a baby shower. Let’s face it — there are only so many times you can eat baked ziti and bakery sheet cake in the course of a few months. Plus, guests may feel obligated to bring gifts to both the gender-reveal and the shower, which could be tough for those on a tight budget.
Then there’s the danger factor. While most expectant parents go for simple reveal options, like breaking piñatas or hitting a powder-filled golf ball, others go bigger and splashier, sometimes with disastrous results. As the BBC reports, people have been injured and even killed by homemade powder-exploding devices. One contraption created a devastating wildfire in Arizona, and one man caused shockwaves across New Hampshire when he set off 80 pounds of explosives in his gender reveal. And let’s not get started on the alligator farmer from Florida who forced a watermelon into the mouth of a gator so that it would bite down to reveal the blue jelly inside. Then there are the couples who dress in white and invite their nearest and dearest to fire appropriately colored paintballs at them. In this day and age, the idea of aiming any kind of gun at a pregnant woman seems tasteless.
A baby is so much more than its gender
Beyond balloons and alligators, the bigger issue here is why these parties are necessary in the first place. Having a baby is joyous enough without calling attention to its appearance. Science is also revealing that there’s more to gender than once believed. While sex is determined by physical genitalia, gender is a more complicated matter. Transgender people identify with a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth, and may undergo reassignment surgery to reflect this. (Caitlyn Jenner and Elliot Page are notable examples.) Other individuals are gender fluid, meaning that the gender they identify with is changeable (via WebMD).
Even the woman who began the trend in the first place regrets it now. In 2008, Jenna Karvunidis thought it would be cute to announce her baby news to her family by having them cut into a cake with pink icing inside. The event was publicized locally and soon everyone was finding unique — and sometimes risky — ways to share their child’s gender. “It’s just become a bit of a nightmare,” she told NPR in a 2019 interview.
In a bit of irony, Karvunidis’s daughter now “goes outside gender norms,” preferring suits and short hair to frills and curls. “She’s telling me, ‘Mom, there are many genders. Mom, there’s many different sexualities and all different types,’ and I take her lead on that,” Karvunidis explained.
So, if you are expecting, you might want to keep the celebration limited to just the baby shower. (Plus, you will save yourself the hassle of cleaning up all that confetti and powder afterward.)
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