Woman Who Popularized Gender-Reveal Parties Says Her Views On Gender Have Changed

Jul 28, 2019
Originally published on July 28, 2019 4:45 pm

A quick search on YouTube brings up hundreds of videos of expecting couples revealing the sex of their baby, usually with blue for a boy and pink for a girl.

Jenna Karvunidis is no stranger to this phenomenon. In fact, many credit her as the "inventor" of the gender party reveal. For her, it was through a cake.

"We had a knife and we cut into it all together and we all saw the pink icing at the same time, and found out that we were having a girl," Karvunidis says.

That was in 2008 before Instagram or Pinterest even existed. Karvunidis says she likes cake and wanted to celebrate her pregnancy with her family.

"I mean gosh, I just like to throw parties," she said. "I just thought it would be really fun for everybody in the whole family to find out."

At the time, she shared it on her blog, High Gloss And Sauce, and it was written up by a local Chicago magazine. After that, Karvunidis says she started to notice more and more gender reveal parties in the few years after her own.

Today, she sees them all the time. She's seen the video of the gender reveal party that inadvertently started a wildfire that burned nearly 47,000 acres, not to mention the one with the pet alligator.

"It's just become a bit of a nightmare," Karvunidis says.

Watching videos of gender reveal parties become bigger and more ostentatious has made Karvunidis rethink her own party 11 years ago.

In a Facebook post this week, Karvunidis said that when someone on Twitter had remembered her as the "inventor" of the gender reveal party, she wanted to share another surprise on Facebook.

"Plot twist! The baby from the original gender reveal party is a girl who wears suits," Karvunidis says. "She says 'she' and 'her' and all of that, but you know she really goes outside gender norms."

The post went viral. Karvunidis says her views on sex and gender have changed, especially when she's talking to her daughter.

"She's telling me 'Mom, there are many genders. Mom, there's many different sexualities and all different types,' and I take her lead on that," Karvunidis says.

She says she does have some regrets and understands these parties aren't beneficial to everyone.

"I know it's been harmful to some individuals. It's 2019, we don't need to get our joy by giving others pain," she says. "I think there's a new way to have these parties."

And that idea is as simple as just eating cake.

"Celebrate the baby," she says. "There's no way to have a cake to cut into it, to see if they're going to like chess. Let's just have a cake."

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

It's the surprise party all over social media. It's been called the gender reveal party.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Screaming).

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: It's a girl.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: (Shouting) It's a boy.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was a couple finding a box of pink clothes, another of a man swinging a golf ball leaving a blue trail of powder. There are hundreds of these videos of expectant couples revealing the sex of their baby using the colors pink for girl and blue for a boy. For blogger Jenna Karvunidis, it was through a cake.

JENNA KARVUNIDIS: We had a knife, and we cut into it altogether. We all saw the pink icing at the same time and found out that we were having a girl.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was in 2008 before Pinterest or Instagram. So how did Karvunidis get the idea? For one, she loves cake. And...

KARVUNIDIS: I mean, gosh, I just like to throw parties. I just thought it would be really fun for everybody in the whole family to find out.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Karvunidis' cake idea was written up by a local Chicago magazine. But then...

KARVUNIDIS: I started noticing, myself, more and more of them about a year or two later. And then, of course, you know, I don't know, the last maybe five years, it's just gone totally crazy.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Newly released video shows the moment a gender reveal party went terribly wrong. The blaze quickly spread.

KARVUNIDIS: Now I'm seeing them, and they're burning down forests and exploding cars, bringing alligators into the mix. And it's just become a bit of a nightmare.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: There was something else that made her rethink her party 11 years ago, and she recently wrote about it on Facebook.

KARVUNIDIS: Plot twist - the baby from the original gender reveal party is a girl who wears suits. She says, you know, she and her and all of that, but, you know, she really goes outside, I'd say, gender norms.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The post went viral. Karvunidis may have been one of the first people to publicly talk about her gender reveal party, but she says her views on sex and gender have changed, especially when talking to her daughter.

KARVUNIDIS: She's telling me, Mom, there are many genders. Mom, there's many different sexualities and, you know, all different types, and I take her lead on that.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Karvunidis does have some regret.

KARVUNIDIS: I know it's been harmful to some individuals. It's 2019. We don't need to get our joy by giving others pain. I think there's a new way to have these parties.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And she has another idea.

KARVUNIDIS: Celebrate the baby. There's no way to have a cake to cut into it to see if they're going to like chess. Let's just have a cake.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was Jenna Karvunidis from Pasadena, Calif.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.