In Defense of Bad Baby Names




By Lyz Lenz

While the rest of the internet was fussing about how Natalie Portman gave her son Aleph a “weird celebrity baby name,” I didn’t bat an eye. Let her name her baby “Lettuce” for all I care. I’m done judging baby names.
Last year, I would have been all over the baby name judgment. I remember telling my husband, “Ugh. You cannot be a supreme court justice named Apple.” But today, I barely even flinch when I hear that the Victoria and David Beckham named their daughter after a number. So, what changed? I had a baby and I gave her what I thought was a normal, but unique baby name. Turns out, it was weird. And I’ve heard everything from, “Why would you name your child that?” to “At least she can go by a nickname.” And I realized, when it comes to baby names: it’s all relative.

In a room full of Moxie Crimefighters, Binghams and Apples, maybe Harper Seven isn’t that weird. It all depends on your perspective.

Mary Blue Magruder goes by her middle name “Blue” and she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I was named for a grandmother, a family surname, as part of a double first name, and I’ve loved the fact that I’m the only one. It was especially fun, when I was a freshman at college. […] the other girls on the hallway were Collot, Tova, and Tally and we were all delighted that weird names were the new normal.”

But “weird names” often come with a price. Marcus Winkler is a father to little Raison (pronounced RAY-son) and he says that his son hates his unique name. “I heard him tell another kid at the pool that his name was Jake. He’s sick of kids calling him ‘raisin’. ” But when asked if he would name his kid differently, Marcus said no. “The name means something to my wife. So, I went with it. I think he’ll appreciate it when he gets older.”

Like little Raison, Chalise Zoelezzi used to hate her name. “I wanted to change my name to whatever else I possibly could: Claudia, Jessica…I wished it was my name. Now that I’m older, I can appreciate that having a distinct name automatically makes you unique, unforgettable and allows you to shape all meaning behind it.” When it came time to name her own child, she and her husband picked a unique name. “My husband Jamie and I chose to give him a unique name after our favorite guitarist/musicians. This prompted a somewhat negative response from friends and family but having lived with a name like my parents gave me, I know one day Waylon will appreciate a name that’s all his own.”

That is the gift of an unusual name: the ability to make it your own in a way that all the kids with the “normal” names can’t. In high school, the homecoming king was named Zebulon, Zeb to his friends. His confidence made his name “cool.” Which just goes to show, when it comes to a unique name, it is what you make it. And I, for one, am glad to give that opportunity to my child.


About the Author:
Lyz Lenz is a writer, a mom and a midwesterner. Although, not in that order. She lives in Iowa and on the web at LyzLenz.com