The endless explosion of the gender-reveal industry

A new industry has exploded like a pile of pink dust from a popped balloon.

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At the best gender-reveal parties, safety eyewear must be worn at all times. In recent years, expectant parents have hosted gatherings to reveal the sex of their unborn child – and in recent-recent years, products designed for these parties have exploded in popularity.

For £129, you can purchase a single car tire that will generate a plume of blue or pink smoke. Simply mount the Highway Max Coloured Smoke tire onto your car, invite your friends and family over to your driveway, and rev your engine. The official website makes it clear that this may stain your vehicle or wheels. It also instructs – twice – that safety eyewear must be worn at all times.

If this seems like an excessive way to announce the sex of your unborn child then my friend, I regret to tell you that you are ignorant to the world in which we now live. Last month, a Louisiana man went viral when he wrestled a live alligator away from a crowd of his loved ones after the alligator revealed the gender of the man’s unborn child.

The alligator hadn’t learned to talk (duh) it simply bit down on a watermelon filled with blue jelly (obviously).

Alligators aren’t available on Amazon, but parents hoping to throw extravagant gender reveals have endless options online. If you want to reveal your child’s sex via a plume of smoke (blue for boys, pink for girls), you can purchase a shooting target, football, or a giant black balloon. If you prefer confetti to paint powder, you can buy crackers, cannons, and hollowed-out chicken eggs that have been spray painted gold.

Writing in the Financial Times, journalist Madison Darbyshire views this as a symptom of our Instagram-obsessed society. “Things that were once private experiences are now so commonly shared that they have taken on a performative air,” she writes of gender-reveal products. And yet there are options for more personal and private parents, such as gender-reveal bath bombs, gender-reveal scratch cards, and gender-reveal spoons.

“People love to be able to include parents, grandparents, siblings and great aunt Gladys in their special news while keeping the surprise element,” says 51-year-old Alice Williams, who sells gender-reveal wax melts from her gift shop, My Wickle Candle Company.

Alice, from Grismby, says she noticed that gender reveals have grown in popularity recently in England, “a bit like Halloween”.

“I’ve been making personalised gifts for seven years and am always thinking and designing new products,” she says. Her golden heart-shaped wax melts can be melted to reveal their pink or blue core, and are scented like baby powder. Alice hopes that expectant parents will send them to family and friends who live far away.

The gender-reveal industry doesn’t end at candles and car tires. There are pizzas featuring the words “Girl” or “Boy” in pepperoni, t-shirts that say “I’m just here for the sex”, and endless cakes to be cut. One company even sells chocolate-dipped gender-reveal strawberries.

On top of the products needed for the actual reveal, there are endless party supplies to be purchased: blue and pink cups, plates, napkins, and cupcake toppers. Then, there’s the bunting. Catchphrases are a huge (and much mocked) part of gender reveal parties, as each rigorously sticks to gender stereotypes. Available taglines include:

  • Ties or tutus?
  • Baseballs or bows?
  • Guns or glitter?
  • Staches or lashes?
  • Wheels or heels?
  • Rifles or ruffles?

And perhaps most confusingly of all:

  • Boots or bows?

Via Etsy

Decorators, bakers, and candle-makers therefore hugely benefit from this new boom, but so do other professionals. Photographers, naturally, are needed to document the whole thing.

Why have gender reveals become such a big deal? As Darbyshire wrote, it’s most likely to do with social networks like Instagram and our desire to share our lives online. As well as this, medical science has advanced in recent years so that parents can discover their baby’s sex much earlier and more accurately than was previously possible. Regardless of the reasons, the trend is now so widespread that it has inspired both one academic study and one viral tweet.

 

Amelia Tait is a freelance journalist, and was previously the New Statesman's tech and digital culture writer. She tweets at @ameliargh