Bucking Trends

Jessica Simpson's cover of Elle this month seems familiar, doesn't it? And I don't think any of us has to dig too deeply into our sleep-deprived, vodka-soaked brains to suss out the reference. Who could forget the Vanity Fair cover that Annie Liebovitz shot so startlingly of Demi Moore's pregnant voluptuousness back in 1991? From the exact same pose, to the ginormous bling on their left middle fingers, to the fact these two celebutants are both carrying girl children, the Simpson pic is a duplicate of what some found scandalous twenty-one years ago. (Although I prefer Demi's arrogant in-the-distance gaze to Jessica's in-your-face, Zoolander directness.) But this piece isn't about who did what first, nor artistic integrity, nor is it about nudity on magazine covers, which for the record I am wholeheartedly for.

No, this is about trends.

Recently, Ms. Simpson announced that her baby girl will be named...take a breath here...Maxwell. What! For those of you just tuning into my blog, Maxwell is my daughter's name. When Michael and I chose it, we thought we were being unique and cutting edge. We had never met a female Maxwell before, so you can imagine how taken aback I was.

How dare she!

Barely, did I recover from Jessica Simpson's name steal when I found out that actress Lindsay Sloane (yeah, I don't know who she is either) gave birth to a girl in January and also chose the name (all together now) Maxwell!!

What the hell is going on here? Don't tell me this is a trend!

Naming children is somewhat of a tricky business. You don't want to be outlandish and name your kid Superbeast, Circuit Breaker, or DoorMat (be sure to take note Nic Cage). You also don't want to be mundane and give the kid a palindromic like Bob, or Nan, or any of the other sobriquets from the See Spot Run series. But that middle ground, that vast and immeasurable middle ground is potentially treacherous, thus we depend on our celebrities to give their kids trend-setting names, giving us a framework in which to then name our children.

But here's the problem, sometimes celebrity baby names get too popular. In the 1980's, according to The Baby Name Wizard, the name Ava did not even make the top one thousand girl names. But in the nineties, Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe came along (aww, remember when they were the golden couple?) and named their little bundle Ava, a name which has gained more and more popularity over the years. In fact, just last year Ava was the fifth most popular girl name.

I imagine Reese and Ryan are not solely responsible for the popularity of Ava. Sometimes, and I have no other way to describe it, but a name becomes air born. Back in 2002, when Michael and I started the adoption process, we really liked the name Phineas as a possible boy name, calling him Finn for short. Then, less than two years later, Julia Roberts gave birth to twins and names her boy Phinnaeus. A couple of years after that the popular kids TV show, Phineas and Ferb first airs. And now on Glee the lead romantic character is named Finn. So, perhaps it isn't just the stars' doing, perhaps popular names somehow beam into our collective consciousness.

Now, check out other celebrity kid's names which are presently in most elementary classrooms across America. Melanie Griffith brought Dakota and Stella to the popular name table. Jayden and Willow have become forces to be reckoned with because of Will and Jada Pinkett. Brangelina has made Maddox, Shiloh, Knox and Vivienne viable possibilities. And Bristol wasn't even on the chart before 2008, but some lipstick wearing soccer mom caught our attention and bam, today it's number 562.

But the last thing I want is for "Maxwell" to become a thing.

Perhaps it will blow over, but just in case I would like to make a plea to pregnant mothers-to-be and future parents everywhere...please don't make Maxwell your girl name choice. Let it remain unique. I get that you might want go nontraditional with a traditional boy name for your future daughter, and I applaud you for this choice, but if you all go gung-ho and call your double-X chromosomed bundles Maxwell then the name will loose its specialness. Below I have provided a list of boy names that would be kick-ass for girls:


I just don't ever want to introduce my daughter and have someone else say, "Oh, just like Jessica Simpson's baby."


Trash said…
My friend, Madonna, and has just about lost count of the number of times that people have asked if she is named after that Madonna. Because her parents were sufficiently prescient that they would name her after a four year old child on the other side of the world. People are stupid.
You have the advantage that your Maxwell is a good few years older than Simpson's and Sloane's. But I understand your pain.

Honestly, I've never understood why Moon Unit didn't catch on better.
Great post. Your daughter is perfectly unique.

It's just a matter of time before we see Betty, Mary, Jane and Ethel return to popularity with Mike, Tom and John. Like any other trend, they're bound to repeat.
CSY said…
Growing up there was NOTHING with my name on it, spelled the way I spell it (Crystal). My mom had a specially made heart pin made for me when I was 15 (way back in the dino days) and NOW...my name is EVERYWHERE! Being unique was cool and Maxwell will be as unique as her name.
Emily said…
Haha couldn't agree more. Great post!
liza said…
Being a child who was picked on because of her first AND last name, I can say that my first concern is that some fuckwad pre-pubescent dimwit will call your beautiful girl "maxi" which will be followed up with "pad." Other than that, your name rocks! I hope those lil fuckers don't think it up; then again, i'm not as original or clever as I once thought, so....they probably will. butihopenot. ps i love your blog
Patty J said…
Harrison would be a terrible name for a girl. Or any child. But I do like your other suggestions. How about "Totarcha"? It's part of the scramble code I just used to prove I'm me.
viridian said…
Oh no a new trend: name your child after one of those damn "please prove you're not a robot" words: like iplembil.
Anonymous said…
Simply because you might find it interesting:
The number next to the name is the number of girls given the name in 2010:
Xavier (7)
Dylan (507)(!)
Ryder (45)
Keenan (7)
Griffin (18)
Harrison (10)
Greyson (26)
Abernathy (less than 5)
Paxton (56)
Wylie (12)
Vaughn (17)
Prescott (less than 5)
Ozzy (less than 5)

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