Michelle Horton is the founder of Early Mama — a site that encourages and inspires anyone who started a family on the “earlier” end of the parenting spectrum — and is a regular contributor to Babble.com and Disney Baby.
Having a baby — especially your first baby — is one of the most celebratory times you’ll ever have. The post-positive-stick fervor, the baby shower, the abounding well wishes from strangers — and more recently, the hundreds of “likes” and comments cheering you on via social media.
Modern pregnancy isn’t exactly what it used to be — with monthly belly silhouettes on Pinterest, uploaded sonogram photos on Facebook, and late-night pregnancy indulgences documented on Instagram.
And that brings us to the newest, fastest-growing trend in modern pregnancy: Gender Reveal Parties.
Let’s back up. Once upon a time there were two options for expectant parents: either find out your baby’s gender from the all-knowing ultrasound tech, or don’t. But increasingly there’s another person factored into the equation: a local baker.
In the case of a Gender Reveal Party, the ultrasound tech hands the parents-to-be a sealed envelope containing the big news (no peeking!), which is then handed over to a baker. That baker, holding privileged information that no one else knows, will then make a cake filled with pink or blue frosting, which the expectant couple will cut open at a party of big or small proportions. (Or they just privately cut the cake open for millions of YouTube viewers and hundreds of Facebook friends to see.)
It’s not just baked goods, of course. Take a quick scan of Gender Reveal Parties on Pinterest and you’ll see boxes filled with pink or blue balloons let go into an open field. You’ll see gender-reveal brunches with creative twists on blue- or pink-filled foods. You’ll see Team Pink vs. Team Blue party games (which might involve some type of light-hearted gambling for the party guests), and specific Gender Reveal decoration ideas. It’s an entire genre here on Etsy, with thousands of handmade items ranging from party invitations to custom signs to scratch-off cards.
What used to be a private joy shared behind closed doors is now instantly available for compulsive voyeuristic consumption. And like most invented traditions of our generation — think the elaborate engagement, the “push present,” etc. — social media has fueled the Gender Reveal phenomenon, making it into a household concept.
Here’s the question, though: Is the Gender Reveal Party trend just another example of our narcissistic over-sharing; of our “Look at me! Look at me!” generation? Or is it a sweet, well-meaning idea that involves the people you love in this momentous moment? A moment that’s emotional and heartfelt, which friends and family are honored to share with you?
There seems to be a fierce divide on the topic, with plenty of eye rolls and under-the-breath “how often do we need to celebrate you” comments — especially with baby showers often planned separately, and mere weeks apart. But after experiencing my sister’s recent Gender Reveal get-together (a small gathering of immediate family members), and after viewing a few of my distant friends’ Gender Reveal Facebook albums, there is a vicarious thrill in seeing someone’s life change so drastically, so suddenly. There’s happiness and cheering and tears — even millions of miles away. Even with someone you barely even know, if at all.
And, of course, there’s cake.
What do you think? Is it a sweet new trend or a silly, contrived celebration?
For more of Michelle’s writing, check out these posts on Babble.com:
- My Sister’s Pretty Gender Reveal Cake
- My Favorite Etsy Shop Has a Brand New Collection
- The Best Gender Reveal Idea
- 10 Cutest Baby Clothes on Etsy
Shop Baby Showers on Etsy