Mom Who 'Invented' Gender Reveal Parties 11 Years Ago Now Has Regrets

Photo of Kavunidis family
Launa Penza Photography/High Gloss and Sauce

Chances are, if you haven't thrown a gender reveal party for one of your own kids, then you've definitely been to one (or two or three) for someone else. I don't need to tell you that gender reveals have kind of become a thing in the last 10 years -- not quite as standard as baby showers, but definitely well on their way. Last week, though, the mom who started it all -- Jenna Karvunidis -- took to Facebook to share some of her thoughts about the whole emerging trend. And what she had to say surprised practically everyone.

  • Eleven years ago, Karvunidis was a new mom-to-be, getting ready to welcome her first kiddo into the world.

    When it came time to learn her first child's gender, she found the anticipation of it all pretty exciting -- and cause for celebration. So the California mom, who now runs the blog High Gloss and Sauce, threw a little party. She was even interviewed about it in an article for The Bump magazine.  

    "I was more the tipping point and gave a party structure to what people have likely been celebrating since ultrasounds were invented," Karvunidis told Buzzfeed this week, though she underscored that she doesn't actually take credit for being the first person who thought to do this. (In fact, it's been others who've given her that honor, though she certainly was among the first.)

    "I just gave form to having the doctor put the news in an envelope and revealing it through cake icing at a party," she continued.

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  • The year was 2008, and although she didn't know it yet, Karvunidis was part of a burgeoning trend that has since taken on a life of its own. 

    In the decade or so that followed, gender reveal products would become so popular, there are now entire online stores devoted to answering that same burning question: Is it a boy or is it a girl?

    But the last 11 years have also seen some other cultural shifts that have opened our eyes. As a society, we've evolved beyond heteronormative thinking, gaining a broader awareness of gender fluidity and what it means to be nonbinary. We've opened our eyes to the trans experience, applauded marketing campaigns aimed at shattering gender stereotypes, and no longer live in a world where girls can't run for president or play major league sports and boys can't wear the pink or show their emotions in public.

    In short: We've come a long way since 2008 when it comes to understanding the nuances of gender expression. And yet, here we are -- still getting giddy as we set off explosions of pink and blue powder into the air.

    The conflict in all of this certainly hasn't been lost on Karvunidis.

  • "I've felt a lot of mixed feelings about my random contribution to the culture," she explained in her Facebook post last week. 

    She was prompted to speak out about it now, she continues, after someone on Twitter once again referenced her as the "inventor" of the trend. 

    "It just exploded into crazy after that," she says, looking back. "Literally -- guns firing, forest fires, more emphasis on gender than has ever been necessary for a baby."

    But if she had it to do all over again, it's fair to say Kavunididis would never have gone through the trouble of cutting into that pink cake to begin with, all so friends and family could fawn over the news that she was having a girl.

    Why?

    Because when it came to the tiny human she was carrying inside of her, she can now see that assigning a gender to it before the kid even entered the world was rather pointless.

  • "Who cares what gender the baby is?" Karvunidis wrote. (Yep -- that's right. The "inventor" of gender reveals is now calling BS.)

    "I did at the time because we didn't live in 2019 and didn't know what we know now," she continued, "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."

    You see, the baby girl that she welcomed into the world 11 years ago is now a soon-to-be tween -- one who expresses herself in nonbinary ways, ditching frilly dresses and braids for slim-cut suits and a sleek, cropped 'do.

  • "PLOT TWIST," wrote Karvunidis, "the world's first gender-reveal party baby is a girl who wears suits!"

    (YEP. That is quite the plot twist. But it's also kind of the best?)

    Karvunidis admits she's learning things as she goes when it comes to gender awareness -- in many ways, just as we all are.

    "I’m taking my daughter’s lead," she told BuzzFeed News. But ultimately, she's come to realize that whether girl or boy or neither, it shouldn't matter. 

    "I just feel like there are a thousand details more important about a person than their gender," she continues. "It’s a bad detail to hang on for a baby, and just because it’s the first thing we know about our kids, it’s not the most important by far."

  • Almost immediately, her post started racking up likes and comments from people who couldn't agree more.

    "Thank you so much for having the character and the wherewithal to learn more and share what you’ve learned!" wrote one man on Facebook.

    "Thank you for exemplifying what it means to learn and grow and adapt so that our community can hold and see everyone!," wrote another woman.

    Others took the time to share some of their own similar experiences at home with their kids.

    "Your child is rocking that look! I love it!" wrote one woman, before asking, Have you discussed pronouns with your child, yet? ... My kids and I talk about our pronouns regularly. Mostly to reaffirm who we are."

    "This is wonderful!" another woman added. "We didn't have a gender reveal because popping a balloon full or orange glitter with the words 'gender is a construct' inside would have just confused the grandmothers."

    (LOL -- touché.)

    In truth, Karvunidis does deserve a bit of applause for sharing her shifting perspective, which in many ways mirrors so much of what has changed -- for the better -- in the last decade. But I think some applause is also due to Gen Z, who are teaching us more than we know with each day. Here's hoping we continue to evolve, grow, and embrace our differences -- not just at home, but when we step out into the world, too.