Gender reveal parties haven't always been a thing – and there's really no reason anyone needs to keep making them one. Now that another devastating wildfire has been sparked by fireworks unleashed at one of these events, even the woman known as the "inventor" of the trend is asking parents to reconsider the stunts they are staging in order to understand the biology of their fetuses to make known.
Influencer Jenna Karvunidis went viral with a party she hosted in 2008 to reveal that she was going to give birth to a daughter. She posted it on her lifestyle blog (Instagram didn't exist yet) and received coverage in a local magazine in Chicago. It appeared on a parenting forum website and then in a glossy mom-to-be magazine called The Bump.
“I mean, my goodness, I just like to throw parties. I just thought it would be really fun if everyone in the family found out, "Karvunidis told NPR in 2019." We had a knife and cut it all together and we all saw the pink icing on the cake at the same time and figured that out we have a girl. "
By 2009, gender reveal party videos appeared on YouTube, and by 2011 the parties were a full-blown trend. When the phenomenon hit the globe, the pink glaze was no longer enough. Parents have increasingly built in explosive devices that emit colored powder or sparks. These explosions have been linked to multiple deaths, at least one plane crash, and several major fires.
Over the weekend, a large wildfire in Yucaipa sparked what authorities called a "smoke-generating pyrotechnic device," which was triggered when the sex was revealed.
What the family imagined as a cute celebration of their new baby has scorched a huge stretch of the San Bernardino National Forest and required the evacuation of several communities. it remains untouched days later. The historic Parrish Pioneer Ranch in Oak Glen was at least partially burned and may have brought with it several traditional apple varieties that were grown on the property and otherwise largely disappeared from modern agriculture.
Karvunidis made a passionate statement urging parents to stop trying these exaggerated, life-threatening events.
"The fire that evacuated parts of California came from a gender exposure party," she wrote. "Stop it. Stop having those stupid parties. For the love of God, stop burning things down to tell everyone about your child's penis. Nobody cares but you."
While this most recent tragic incident – not even the first devastating fire sparked by a gender reveal gone wrong – may prove to be the most devastating tragedy associated with any of the events, the loss of life and property are not the only problems with elaborate depictions of the genitals associated with a fetus.
"Gender revelations are loud, bright, public affirmations of the gender binary at a time when people are skeptical of the concept," wrote Julie Beck in The Atlantic.
Karvunidis learned that firsthand. Their eldest daughter, who was celebrated with pink cake in 2008, grew up disinterested in the trappings of stereotypical girls.
"Change of plot! The baby from the original gender reveal party is a girl who wears suits," wrote Karvunidis. "There is such an obsession with gender that it becomes restrictive in many ways and exploitative in others. You don't want what's between your legs to guide your life path. I want my children to grow up in a world where gender doesn't matter. "
She says that over the past 12 years her own understanding of gender and gender has grown to the point where she no longer considers the celebrations appropriate. She had two more children after her daughter Bianca but has never held a gender reveal party.
"I know it was detrimental to some people," Karvunidis said, referring to the enforcement of a rigid gender binary – although she could also have spoken of the physical destruction the parties caused. "We don't have to get our joy from causing pain to others."
RELATED: These maps keep track of every devastating fire that swept L.A.
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