Actress and model Emily Ratajkowski and her husband Sebastian Bear-McClard are expecting their first child. And, while one of the big trends for parents-to-be is to host big gender-reveal parties, it seems unlikely this celebrity couple will jump on board that baby bandwagon.
Ratajkowski shared some candid thoughts in an essay published by Vogue about her choice to not reveal the baby’s gender. In the opening of her piece, she half-jokes about how she responds to one of the first questions friends have after hearing she’s pregnant: “Do you know what you want?”
“We like to respond that we won’t know the gender until our child is 18 and that they’ll let us know then,” wrote the 29-year-old “Gone Girl” actress. “Everyone laughs at this. There is a truth to our line, though, one that hints at possibilities that are much more complex than whatever genitalia our child might be born with: the truth that we ultimately have no idea who — rather than what — is growing inside my belly. Who will this person be? What kind of person will we become parents to?”
Ratajkowski’s desire to place less focus on her child’s gender is part of a growing cultural movement. Some parents are making the choice to raise their children without gender labels, including pop superstar Pink, who has said she is nurturing her children Willow and Jameson in a gender-neutral environment.
The movement is also gaining traction with retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch, which has a gender-neutral clothing line, and toy makers such as Mattel (of Barbie doll fame), which designing a Creatable World doll that can be customized to a child’s wishes and has no distinguishable male or female characteristics.
Despite her wishes to not force gender roles on her baby, Ratajkowki shared she finds herself wrestling with her own childhood and how she embraced her gender identity.
“It occurs to me that as a younger person I’d almost automatically imagined myself having a daughter,” she wrote. “I remember playing as a child, holding baby dolls and picturing myself with a future best friend: something like the American Girl doll I owned, who had brown eyes and brown hair to mirror my own features, a smaller version of myself.”
While Ratajkowski said she hopes to limit the amount of gender pressure she brings on her child, she knows the challenges ahead in a world where people default to a male or female label and the generalizations that come with it.
“I don’t necessarily fault anyone for these generalizations — a lot of our life experiences are gendered, and it would be dishonest to try to deny the reality of many of them,” Ratajkowski said. “But I don’t like that we force gender-based preconceptions onto people, let alone babies. I want to be a parent who allows my child to show themself to me. And yet I realize that while I may hope my child can determine their own place in the world, they will, no matter what, be faced with the undeniable constraints and constructions of gender before they can speak or, hell, even be born.”
You can read Ratajkowski’s full essay for Vogue here.