After the baby celebrated in the original gender reveal party that went viral turned out to be gender non-conforming, party inventor Jenna Karuvinidis had some second thoughts about the trend.
Have you ever had a party to celebrate the revelation of your newborn offspring’s culturally-assigned gender and coordinating color pallets? Have you ever wanted to slice a cake in front of an audience, just to reveal a cascading waterfall of blue or pink M&Ms where appropriate?
Yeah, me either. Apparently, even the alleged originator of the world-renowned pain-in-the-ass baby shower idea, the “Gender Reveal Party,” has come out to say that she thinks it is a stupid idea.
Jenna Karuvinidis, creator of the blog High Gloss and Sauce, is originally credited with the concept of the gender reveal party — although originally, her party was pretty simple compared to today’s parties with their increasingly complex cakes and even one couple accidentally starting a wildfire.
“We had a knife and we cut into it all together, and we all saw the pink icing at the same time, and found out that we were having a girl,” Karvunidis told NPR.
Imagine a world where people created “vision boards” on cork boards from Staples using cut-up magazines. 2008 was a strange time, prior to the cultural touchstones that Instagram and Pinterest have become. All you had to do was slice into a cake filled with coordinating-colored icing, and you could start a cultural trend.
Whether you should want to or not is the next question.
“I mean gosh, I just like to throw parties,” Karvunidis said. “I just thought it would be really fun for everybody in the whole family to find out.”
The idea is initially simple and tame enough. A couple is having a baby, and they’re excited to find out what gender it is, learn more information about their forthcoming child, and share it with loved ones.
Gender is a lot more complex and convoluted than that, though, and everyone explores and interprets their gender — and the mere idea of it — in a myriad of ways. All are valid, and none are incorrect. However, further pushing the notion that there are only two genders, and then assigning one at birth, is extremely problematic.
Fun fact: Karvunidis completely agrees.
“Plot twist! The baby from the original gender reveal party is a girl who wears suits,” Karvunidis told NPR. “She says ‘she’ and ‘her’ and all of that, but you know, she really goes outside gender norms.”
The irony that the first-ever subject of a gender reveal party turned out to be a gender-nonconforming is even more delicious than a cake full of blue peanut M&Ms from Costco.
Karvunidis credited her ten-year-old daughter with helping her ideas about gender evolve. “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 also acknowledges that the now-ubiquitous trend of gender reveal parties has bummed out a lot of people who don’t feel their gender is summed up by their birth assignment. “I know it’s been harmful to some individuals. It’s 2019, we don’t need to get our joy by giving others pain,” she told NPR. “I think there’s a new way to have these parties.”
For Karvunidis, that involves getting away from prenatal concerns about gender, and just focusing on the reason for the season. “Celebrate the baby,” she told NPR. “There’s no way to have a cake to cut into it, to see if they’re going to like chess. Let’s just have a cake.”