Gender reveal parties — love them or hate them — are one of the biggest trends of the past few years. During the newly minted cultural phenomena, expecting couples extravagantly announce the gender of their baby, usually in the form of a ridiculous game or activity.
The reveals range from simple ideas, such as putting pink or blue balloons in a box or having a pink or blue cake, to more over-the-top concepts, such as having an alligator bite into a dyed watermelon or releasing colored smoke while skydiving.
When you search the term on Google, thousands of results for products and ideas come up, especially on Etsy, revealing a market of cute party favors and pink and blue confetti canons most people had no idea existed. Frankly, given the amount of attention they direct toward a barely formed baby, gender reveal parties are one of the most annoying trends I have ever seen.
Time and Money
Especially if new parents can’t get hand-me-downs from relatives, babies (particularly first ones) can be incredibly expensive, as parents will need to buy everything new, including clothing, bottles, diapers, cribs, strollers, changing tables, car seats — the list can go on for forever. Plus, newborns eventually become toddlers who eventually become children, which means constantly buying new clothes and toys for a growing kid.
Considering just how expensive childrearing can be, gender-reveal parties begin to feel like a pointless expense that expecting parents don’t need. For instance, take the food alone: a basic cake to feed 20 people starts at around $30, though custom cakes, with their blue or pink centers and fondant designs, can cost upwards of $100.
Of course, the cake is just a fraction of the expenses, which can include decorations, invitations, non-cake food and the mechanism for the big gender reveal. Most people are already going to have a baby shower, which costs around the same as a reveal party, meaning that by also throwing a gender reveal soiree, they’re doubling the number and expenses of their child’s pre-birth celebrations.
Instead of spending all that money on an elaborate party everyone will barely remember, the soon-to-be-parents could use those funds to buy diapers that they’ll eventually need or start a college fund for their child.
In addition to money, the parties are a waste of time for hosts and guests. Modern life is busy enough with work, kids, errands and maintaining relationships. Who has time to go to your co-worker Cindy’s (who you barely talk to) gender reveal party?
Honestly, there are people who don’t care about their friends/acquaintances kids and they probably aren’t interested in a party for a half-developed fetus. There’s going to be a baby shower anyways, so how many celebrations does a kid that hasn’t been born yet need?
As for the hosts, I have years of experience getting a house ready for a party, and it is not an easy task. The venue needs to be cleaner than a hospital room, floors vacuumed and mopped, furniture dusted, beds made and everything organized. God forbid if it’s taking place in an unruly backyard that requires hours of raking and/or mowing.
Just this process of making a home acceptable for guests can take up to two days of work. As well as cleaning there is the party set up, which involves putting up banners, making party favors and setting up the “pop the balloons that have either pink or blue paint” game (I think most have outgrown dumb party games by our teenage years).
All this time could be used to complete the responsibilities of day to day life and the expecting parents could take advantage of the only quiet time they’ll have before the baby comes.
Gender Stereotypes and Identity
There’s something to be said about the emphasis gender plays in these parties. Themes such as “Touchdowns or Tutu’s,” “Stache’s or Lashes,” “Beau or Bow,” and “Team Pink vs. Team Blue” puts so much importance on whether the baby is a boy or a girl, that it engrains gender stereotypes. Who says girls can’t play football and boys can’t do ballet?
There’s also an issue with the term gender itself. Merriam-Webster defines gender as “the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex.” This means the expecting parents and families are having sex-reveal parties to show whether their child is male or female, not a boy or girl.
A baby boy could be born and may identify as a girl as he grows up, but he is still male. Sometimes the doctor is wrong and that huge party revealing the baby to be male was for nothing because the parents ended up with a daughter instead. All that assuredness and excitement for a boy results in confusion and sometimes disappointment with an unexpected daughter.
Media and Narcissism
Social media is an integral part of everyone’s lives and not just teenagers. There’s more and more pressure to portray the most positive aspects of your life and to compete with peers on accomplishments and “likes.” It’s no surprise that parents to be feel pressured to throw sex reveal parties, but that’s no excuse to do it for social media attention.
These days, it feels like everyone is trying to one-up each other on who has the most “likes” or the cutest pictures. Gender reveal parties seem like just another excuse to post Pinterest-worthy pictures on Instagram.
There’s also a bit of conceitedness with these parties. It says that their unborn child’s sex is so important that parents are going to take time out of everyone’s busy day and force them to participate in cringe worth party games to find out whether its male or female.
I understand the people want to celebrate a child coming into the world, and they should, that’s what the baby shower is for, but these crazy parties are getting ridiculous. What happened to finding out at the ultrasound appointment, telling loved ones in person or over the phone, and maybe announcing it on Facebook? Or better yet, just hope for a healthy baby, no matter the sex.