The woman credited with popularizing gender-reveal parties is once again condemning the over-the-top celebrations after a reveal-gone-wrong led to a massive wildfire in California, destroying more than 7,000 acres of forest so far.
More than 500 firefighters and four helicopters have been called in to battle the blaze, forcing dozens of residents to evacuate, after coloured fireworks were set off at the party.
But these pyrotechnic displays are a far cry from the trend blogger Jenna Karvunidis started in 2008, when she sliced into a cake to reveal pink frosting to signify her baby was going to be born a girl. And she’s had enough.
“Stop it. Stop having these stupid parties. For the love of God, stop burning things down to tell everyone about your kid's penis. No one cares but you,” Karvunidis wrote on her blog’s Facebook page Monday.
“Toxic masculinity is men thinking they need to explode something because simply enjoying a baby party is for sissies.”
Since 2008, these celebrations have turned into elaborate, risky endeavours. Though many couples still opt for the classic pink or blue cake reveal, others have taken more extreme routes, often involving some form of explosives.
In fact, this isn’t the first time a gender-reveal party has ended in flames.
In 2017, an off-duty border patrol agent accidentally started a 47,000-acre wildfire in southern Arizona when he shot a target filled with a coloured explosive powder to reveal the sex of his baby. He was sentenced to probation for triggering the fire, which caused more than US$8 million in damage.
A similar incident occurred in Florida this April, sparking a 10-acre brush fire.
The use of explosives at these parties has been linked to at least one death, after family members in Iowa unintentionally built a pipe bomb for a gender-reveal. When the device exploded, it sent shrapnel flying through the air, killing a grandmother.
Despite coming up with the idea, Karvunidis has long decried the popularity of the parties not just because of their now deadly reputation, but because of their focus on gender.
“Assigning focus on gender at birth leaves out so much of their potential and talents that have nothing to do with what’s between their legs,” she wrote previously, lamenting that the trend needlessly put “more emphasis on gender than has ever been necessary for a baby.”
Her now-10-year-old child Bianca, who Karvunidis claims was the subject of the first gender-reveal party, does not conform to one gender and regularly wears clothing traditionally worn by boys.
After the latest fire, Karvunidis says she’s been attracting more negative attention on social media despite long condemning the events.
“I'm getting a lot of hateful messages about the gender reveal party that set California on fire yesterday,” she wrote on Twitter Monday.
“Could we just stop having these stupid parties and then the problem would solve itself? Thanks.”
- With files from the Associated Press