You may call it ‘an excuse to throw a party’, but if the rise in gender reveal celebrations is anything to go by, it is safe to say that it is not going away soon—if anything, they are getting wilder. A gender reveal party is a celebration in which the soon-to-be parents disclose the sex of their baby to close friends and family. In case the parents want to be surprised too, their doctor gets in touch with a close friend who eventually reveals the sex of the baby to them. Gender reveals are different from baby showers, and most of the time happen at an earlier stage of pregnancy, even if some people choose to celebrate it on the same day. Most gender reveals involve pink, symbolising that the baby is a girl, and blue, for a boy. This alone has stirred debate, where some say it enforces gender stereotypes, pointing that it is not okay to have either of the colours represent femininity and masculinity. Gender reveal parties are becoming a popular trend. Photos/Net In case you are wondering how this all started, in 2008, while pregnant with her eldest child, Jenna Karvunidis threw a party during which she announced the baby’s sex by cutting into a cake filled with pink icing. She wrote about the event on her blog, and her post went viral. She later became one of the people strongly against it, because in an attempt to outshine, people were taking risks. Soon “gender-reveal parties” became a massive trend, one that has come to involve increasingly extravagant choreographed “reveals” and sometimes even deadly stunts. One such party led to a 47,000-acre wildfire in Arizona; another involved explosives that killed a soon-to-be grandmother. “Stop it,” she wrote on Facebook in response to a gender reveal that used a smoke generating pyrotechnic device which started a wildfire, resulting in the death of a 56-year-old woman in Iowa USA in 2019. “Stop having these stupid parties. For the love of God, stop burning things down to tell everyone about your kid’s sex,” she said. In Rwanda, however, things are just getting started, as the trend continues to gain popularity. Small and intimate Anastasie Umuhire who gave birth last month, organised a gender reveal party. “It was not a party per se because it was only my husband and my two boys. We had a small family get-together with cake, food and drinks, some decorations, and a photographer to mark the day,” she shares. “A gender reveal was a big deal for us because we wanted to have a girl for so long, and so discovering that it was going to be a girl was such a joyful moment for us,” she adds. “I didn’t know there was a name for it. I thought it was just a surprise that my wife threw for us because it was important for us to finally have a baby girl in the family,” says Constantin Nganakariho, Umuhire’s husband. “But if it is a thing that people do normally, then I think it is beautiful,” he adds. Is it necessary? Like any party, gender-reveals too require a budget. Some people choose to make it a small thing with a limited number of people, like Umuhire, while others choose to make it a big event with all their friends and family around. Some, sadly, go out of their way to do something they can’t afford. So, is there a pocket-friendly way to do it? Claude Nkundimana, Chief Executive of Correct Service which offers buffet service, protocol, photography, and cakes at events and conferences, says that their services vary in accordance with the affordability of a client. “Like any other party, we offer services that depend on the range of money the client is ready to pay. You can have good things without necessarily being extravagant,” he says. However, there are some people who don’t find it necessary to do a gender reveal party at all. “This kind of party is done at an early stage of pregnancy. I cannot begin to imagine the trauma the parents would be left with if, for any unfortunate reason, the pregnancy is disturbed,” shares Sandrine Uwijuru, a bride-to-be. People may wonder if the motivation behind a gender reveal party is that a certain sex is considered special. And to this, Umuhire’s answer is no. “Even if my family desperately wanted a baby girl, I strongly believe that all kids are good and wanted equally. I love my boys, and I just wanted a girl for a change. If it had been a boy again, I would have done the same,” says Umuhire. Celebration or show? Amelia Abraham in her article, ‘Gender-reveal parties need to end with 2020—here’s why’ published by Vogue last year, writes, “In September, a Saudi-Arabian influencer couple known as the Anasala family posted a video titled ‘Biggest Gender Reveal Ever’ on YouTube, which has had more than 30m views. In it we see the couple travel to Dubai with their family where a dramatic light display on the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, reveals their baby’s gender in blue. There have been pop culture representations in recent years too, such as Maya Vander’s gender-reveal cake in Netflix’s ‘Selling Sunset’, or the blue confetti at Bow and Dre’s gender reveal in the third series of ‘Black-ish’. These examples, along with hundreds of others on YouTube, demonstrate how—partly thanks to social media—gender-reveal parties have turned into increasingly all-out spectacles.