Whatever Happened to What’s-her-name?

name badgeHave you ever wondered what has happened to old names like Bertha and Edna? Or Mildred and Ida?  If you’re thinking because they’re old fashioned, I agree. But, that’s my point. What makes a name obsolete? Does it simply fall out of fashion?  I’m referring specifically to girl’s names because most of the old standards for masculine names (William, Robert, Matthew, and the like), remain steady over time. It seems too simple to say that women are just more fashion-forward or trend-conscious therefore they give their baby girls newer, more popular names. These same women name their boys too.

I like vintage names. I really like them. In fact, I was completely prepared to name one of my daughters Gertrude; but my family, especially my husband, completely freaked out at the thought. “We could call her Gertie,” I argued. “It’s adorable. It’s Drew Barrymore’s name in E.T.!” They all refused to budge. Even friends offered a resounding NAY!

I think one of the reasons that Baby Name books are so popular is because naming a child is really difficult. It’s a big responsibility. Names are important. Names have meanings and they are how we identify ourselves to the world at large. Research has shown that people who don’t like their own names are more likely to have low self-esteem and many say that a name influences the bearer’s personality. Research has also shown that people react to others based on the names they have. I agree that a name influences the bearer’s personality. As a matter of fact, I have a daughter named Gabrielle whom we have called “Gabby” since she was knee high to a grasshopper. She has totally grown into her name. She can’t stop talking.

I have an unusual name for a girl: Micki. My mom changed the spelling to make it look more feminine. But it’s still traditionally a boy’s name. Actually, it is my grandfather’s name. And, it’s strongly identified with a certain famous mouse. And singer. And ball player. And actor. All of whom are boys. You can imagine the ribbing I received growing up. I hated my name. Once I finally realized that I couldn’t beat ’em, I joined ’em. I started collecting Mickey Mouse everything. I embraced the little critter that had once been the bane of my existence. And as I grew up, I started to like my name for its uniqueness as well as the image of a friendly world-famous mouse. As a young adult, I realized how proud I should be to carry my grandfather’s name. He’s an awesome self-made and honorable man. In a way, you could say that I eventually grew into my name.

I was looking at some current popular names. Some parents give their children really bizarre names. I’m not sure it’s a great idea to name your children after pop culture trends. These are some of the actual names that I ran across: Audi, Hilton, Darko, Zeppelin,  Kapri, Sephora, Dior, Cutty, and Hennessy. I think parents should put themselves in their future child’s shoes before signing the dotted line on the birth certificate. I mean, ask yourself, would you like to be called Apple or Simba for the rest of your life?

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