Childrearing

STFU Parents: Gender Reveal Parties Are Annoying, But They’re Never Going Away

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A couple of years ago, gender reveal parties were having a moment. Love them or hate them, they were popping up everywhere, and you could fairly easily separate the fans (the parents-to-be who hosted them) from the foes (everyone else). Back then, the trend had spread like a diaper rash on social media — I’m not sure that throwing gender reveal parties in an age without social media would have much allure — and seemingly everyone was weighing in on their absurdity.

Here on Mommyish, editor Maria Guido wrote a post titled ‘No One Cares About Your Big Gender Reveal — Except You,’ in which she wrote, “The cake cutting happens and everyone delights when the color of the cake is revealed. Or, they roll their eyes and think, “I can’t believe there was a whole separate party for this. Do these people actually think I have endless amounts of free time?” George Packer at the New Yorker penned a biting piece called ‘Narcissism in Pink and Blue’, and by January 2013, TODAY.com was reporting on the trend of “ultrasound parties,” in which technicians roll ultrasound monitors into private homes so that parents-to-be and their friends can all glimpse Baby B or Baby G together, for just a few hundred bucks per hour. (What a bargain!) One technician noted that “gender reveal is probably the bulk of our work,” emphasizing the popularity of “real time” gender reveal parties in which parents and guests find out the sex of the unborn baby simultaneously. It’s no wonder so many people fell into the “love/hate” camp on this issue, either adoring the parties and the excitement they represent for parents OR abhorring them with a passion usually reserved for obnoxious baby shower games.

But this is in part because those games haven’t been replaced by gender reveal parties; rather, they’ve been enhanced. Most parents don’t combine the reveal and the baby shower into one party. They just throw multiple parties. So on top of the fact that guests are supposed to be palpably excited about the reveal, they’re also meant to prepare a gift and return at a later date to fête the parents once again. It’s a whole lot of partying if you consider how many friends have babies around the same time. And while it’s not necessarily a huge strain, and no one is forced to participate (I’m sure most parents would prefer that only people who want to participate do), the problem with reveal parties isn’t really rooted in time or money. It’s rooted in the fact that the parties are an inherent act of conceit. Despite them being described by many people, even cynics, as fun, it’s hard to divorce the self-centered quality that surrounds the stereotypical “pink or blue” celebrations from the joyful element of surprise. For instance, if a group of close friends got together for a picnic at the park, and parents-to-be chose to slice into a special pink or blue cake while everyone just kind of hung out playing Frisbee, that would be a much more low-key and welcome approach. It’s the idea that some parents go overboard in their excitement that turns people off from ever wanting to hear the words “gender reveal party” ever again. (And just for the record, I do wish more people called them “sex reveal parties” for politically correct reasons, but let’s be real: They don’t.)

All of this is to say that since their inception, gender reveal parties have only become more commonplace, and the trend won’t be disappearing anytime soon. Consider the now-dated enthusiasm this group of friends had when they first learned what the parties are about:

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