Back in 2008, a blogger named Jenna Karvunidis helped popularize gender reveal parties and videos when she baked a cake to celebrate the impending birth of her first child. After several miscarriages, she was ecstatic about being far along enough in her pregnancy to find out the sex of her baby and wanted to mark the occasion. But it wasn't just any regular cake: Pink icing, revealed when the cake was cut into, let her friends and family know that a girl was on the way.
“For me, it was a milestone,” she told The Guardian on Saturday, July 27. “I had had several miscarriages. It was like, ‘Oh yay, I’m finally at a point in my pregnancy where I know if it’s a boy or a girl’ rather than ‘Let’s saddle this kid with a whole identity’. I don’t think anybody was thinking like that in 2008.”
The reveal made it onto her blog, the website The Bump interviewed her, and “then I started noticing people having the same party,” she wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday (July 25) via her blog's account. (It's important to note that what Karvunidis actually revealed was her baby's sex, which indicates the biological differences between males and females, as opposed to gender, which is the social construct of norms and roles stemming from one's sex.)
But now, Karvunidis is rethinking so-called gender reveals—thanks, in part, to the now-10-year-old daughter whose own reveal party helped catalyze the trend.
"I've felt a lot of mixed feelings about my random contribution to the culture. It just exploded into crazy after that. Literally—guns firing, forest fires, more emphasis on gender than has ever been necessary for a baby," she wrote in her Facebook post. "Who cares what gender the baby is? 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."
She accompanied her post with an updated family photo. "PLOT TWIST, the world's first gender-reveal party baby is a girl who wears suits!" Karvunidis wrote.
Karvunidis told The Guardian that, as her 10-year-old has been exploring nonbinary expressions of gender, she's also been teaching her mom a few things about all the nuances involved. “I’m letting her lead me,” Karvunidis said. “She has her opinions about there being many genders, and she is informing me about things. She was biologically born a female, and she is still ‘she’ and ‘her’ and says she’s a girl, but she is still doing things her way.”
She also added that she "started to realize that nonbinary people and trans people were feeling affected by this, and I started to feel bad that I had released something bad into the world.”
Now, she told BuzzFeed,"I just feel like there are a thousand details more important about a person than their gender. 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."
Her insights were met with applause on Twitter:
Karvunidis doesn't want to make other excited parents feel bad about throwing a reveal—although generally speaking, she would love if people shifted away from gender reveal parties. "Parents get enough flak for every move they make as it is. I just urge people to pivot to a pregnancy reveal," she told BuzzFeed. "It can happen sooner, and everyone still gets cake."
Originally Appeared on Glamour