The woman credited with inventing "gender reveal" parties now says she regrets it — because, the mom-of-three says, "assigning focus on gender at birth leaves out so much of their potential and talents that have nothing to do with what's between their legs."
Jenna and Niko Karvunidis experienced several pregnancy losses before they conceived their oldest daughter in 2008. They were so excited to finally reach the stage of pregnancy when they were able to know the baby's sex, they decided to celebrate finding out with a party, complete with a cake in the shape of a duck that had a telling pink filling.
At the time, Jenna had no idea what the implications of that party would be — for her family or for the world. "I'm the type to bake a cake for every occasion. We like to party!" she told TODAY Parents. "I had absolutely no thoughts in 2008 of the greater implications of gender reveal parties."
The Los Angeles blogger wrote about her gender reveal party — which would be considered quaint and simple compared to the complex and elaborate productions of today — on her blog and in a parenting forum in July 2008. After The Bump magazine interviewed her and featured the party in a story, Karvunidis was credited with helping to popularize the gender reveal trend, a credit the mom of three now regrets.
"Gender reveal parties are canceled," she said. "I cringe when I see them now. The insane levels people are taking them just to celebrate one of the most mundane facts about their child is just bizarre."
Even when she was pregnant with her oldest daughter, Karvunidis wasn't too focused on her sex or gender. "Her nursery was done in blue and yellow, so it's not like I was trying to create a pink world around the baby," she said. But now, she said, she recognizes that "people are burning down forests and blowing up cars to shout what is essentially a very boring detail."
In a post on her blog's Facebook page, Karvunidis reflected on how her perspective on gender reveals has changed in the past 10 years.
"Who cares what gender the baby is?" she wrote. "I did at the time, because we didn't live in 2019 and didn't know what we know now — that assigning focus on gender at birth leaves out so much of their potential and talents that have nothing to do with what's between their legs." Her post has gone viral and has been shared more than 12,000 times in less than a week.
In a newer post on September 7, 2020, Karvunidis addressed the gender-reveal pyrotechnic that's being blamed for wildfires in California.
Karvunidis's daughter, Bianca, is now 10 and older sister to Stella, 8, and Greta, 5. Though she identifies herself as a typical girl, Bianca happens to wear more pants than she does dresses — a "plot twist" her mom says shows that gender reveals reinforce traditional ideas about girls and boys that might not hold true for the babies they are celebrating.
She now urges expecting parents to reconsider before they plan a gender reveal themselves.
"Let children be. Let them explore. The gender norms have become so rigid and narrow, it's a wonder anyone can breathe. We can't reduce kids to 'guns or glitter,' so let's stop," she said.
Knowing that other parents might like a party as much as she does, Karvunidis has ideas for alternatives to the gender reveal trend. "Let's do 'name reveal' parties or 'Surprise, I'm pregnant!' parties," she suggested. "There are a million ways to celebrate your life that don't involve putting anyone in danger."
This story was originally published in 2019 and has been updated.