Kate Hudson’s Instagram post — which showed the actress in a flowy white maternity dress, popping large balloons filled with pink confetti — has been viewed more than 16 million times.
Full disclosure: Ten of those views were by me. Hudson is adorable and she’s a celebrity (and she’s also Jewish!). But for those of you who are not as adorable or as famous, well, I’m sorry to say this but I don’t care about your gender reveal party. It’s like blowing out the candles and not serving the cake.
Gender reveal parties have become a massive trend in recent years — the need to make a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT of what used to be a private moment is almost certainly fueled by the need for social media likes and approval. According to a CNN report, YouTube has over 500,000 gender reveal videos, and Pinterest searches for “creative gender reveal ideas” are up nearly 400% over last year.
Even when the big moment fails there is great opportunity for going viral: An Arizona man accidentally started a wildfire that burned 47,000 acres when he tried to shoot a target that would explode in pink or blue smoke. At least nothing was harmed at Kate Hudson’s party — except perhaps the egos of her older sons (Ryder Robinson, 14, and Bingham Hawn Bellamy, 7) seeing their mother’s joy that she wasn’t having another.
Some of us remember back when a phone call from the hospital was the way family and friends heard of the birth (and gender) of a baby. Those expecting now will often know the gender of their fetus months before it’s born. I didn’t find out the gender of either of my two children in advance. And both times, after 9 months of hoping for a daughter, I labored and pushed until I heard my husband yell, “It’s a boy!” In both instances, my longing for a little girl evaporated; I knew instantly these boys were the children meant for me.
There are so few surprises in life. What’s the big rush to find out or to tell everyone you know? Pregnancy is hard. Labor is worse. The reward of the big disclosure after giving birth is about as exciting as it gets.
Don’t get me wrong — I understand that some people want to find out the gender so they can prepare a nursery. Being Jewish, I didn’t have a baby shower, pick a final name, or bring home so much as a onesie until the child was swaddled in a bassinet in the hospital nursery. I heeded my mother’s, mother-in-law’s and grandmother’s superstition about not making too much fuss before the baby arrived, so as not to tempt the Evil Eye and cause something bad to happen.
“Dah-ling, don’t give the baby a kinahora. Poo poo, you shouldn’t bring home anything until after it’s born,” Grandma Alice cautioned.
I ordered two layettes — one in pink and one in blue — and the blue one was delivered along with the nursery furniture for my shell-shocked husband to set up while I recovered in the maternity ward. Though most babies in current times were born healthy, I still wasn’t comfortable going against tradition. Or my mother.
Expectant parents often say, “I don’t care what sex it is, I just want a healthy baby.” That seems at odds with the over the top reactions that are recorded as car tires, fireworks, piñatas or golf balls explode in blue or pink and everyone loses their mind. The dad who said he didn’t care is screaming like his team won the Super Bowl when he discovers he’s having a son. I felt sad for the child being filmed having a meltdown when their cupcake filling was not the color representing the baby brother or sister they wanted. Why start sibling rivalry before there is even a sibling?
Beyond the annoyance factor of these parties — the over-the-top excessiveness of it all — it seems wrong to perpetuate stereotypes with traditional themes and the expectations that come with them. It’s antiquated. With all we’ve learned about gender being fluid, it’s not even certain that divulging their sex will reveal a child’s future identity. That baby boy in blue may prefer a tutu to a truck.
So, skip the parties. There will be many celebratory moments to come. But as far as revealing gender, it’s best when the baby is the one doing the revealing.