Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hello, My Name Is...HUH?

Our 21st century, American culture has hosted great triumphs and acheivements: the first black president was voted into office, gay marriage (in some states) was legalized, the Packers won the Superbowl. Yet this era has also spawned some seriously bizarre fads including, but not limited to: pajama jeans, reality television (aren’t we all fascinated by the Kardashians and Real House Wives?), and the real tragedy - baby names. 

According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, the names Jessica, Emily, Sarah were some of the most popular names for girls and Michael, William, and Jacob triumphed for boys in 1995. By 2005, Madison was a trendy girl's name, while Angel was a number one boy's name in Arizona. 
Thanks to a socially lethal combination of celebrity obsession and supremely individualistic sentiments, naming babies has transformed into a social experiment. Gwyneth Paltrow had Apple, Jason Lee had Pilot Inspektor, and Frank Zappa takes the crown with Moon Unit, Ahmed, Dweezil and Diva Thin Muffin. The list, unfortunately, goes on and on. None of these names elicit a clear understanding of if the baby is a boy or girl. 

This trend quickly spread deep into everyday culture. Normal people named their newborns Sage, Lemon, and Dakota. The trend soon became an individualistic egalitarian movement. Egalia Preschool in Stockholm doesn’t have genders. The children are not “hims” nor “hers”, but rather “friends”. Remember the recent parents of Sasha who refused to reveal if their child was a boy or girl for five years? 
While a noble and important goal, the acheivment of equality should certainly not hing on what we name our children. The acceptance of all genders and the appreciation of individuality should be nurtured through awareness, teaching, and actions. Giving your baby an exclusive (and let's be real, a weird) name doesn’t guarantee a life free from judgement. 
Forget gender neutrality. Jessica Simpson threw a curve ball at us when she named her baby girl Maxwell Drew. Is it just me, or are you confused? 
Furthermore, what about the names you can’t even say? I feel for all the teachers that have to encounter names comprised of all consonants, no vowels on their class roster. We are forever indebted to Ke$ha for her brilliance in using symbols as alphabetic characters. How wonderful that our alphabet has been expanded; our names are no longer pronounceable.
The blatently apparent catalyst in this name fiasco is the parental unit. Are they starved for attention? Are they sadistically trying to give their child a complex? Do they enjoy watching us all squirm uncomfortably as we try to pronounce the kid’s name? 
Here: I’ll throw you a bone. I’ll compromise. If you’re dying to give your baby a “special name” use the middle name. That’s what it’s for! Exploit the opportunity to give your child two names. Instead of calling the new baby Pumpkin, take a deep breath, think, and go with Jennifer Pumpkin. You’ll spare the child awkard school years and you'll spare us confusion. 
So remember: your child will have to live the name you give them for a long, long time. If that doesn’t persuade you, think about this. When faced with two equally qualified applicants, employers tend to hire the applicant with a traditional or “normal” name as oppossed the one with a unique name
Like all good things in life: keep it short, keep it snappy, keep it simple. Happy naming!

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