Hello, my name is Jessica Ashley. My first and last names took up the first and second spots on the most popular name lists for seven years in a row.
That might lead you to believe that my name was popular enough not to be called Jennifer (which took the crown as the most-oft bestowed name for the whole decade in the ’70’s) on a daily basis. But I was.
Thankfully, that is balanced by continuing to be asked (like, weekly) not only if Ashley is my last name (it is, thanks for asking) but if I am sure that is my last name (also, yes) and finally if I am aware that I have two first names (actually three, but thanks for kindly pointing that out).
While I once dreamt of growing up to change my name to Ginger and often practiced writing Mitzi Ashley in curly cursive letters, I learned to love my names, for all their first-nameness and popularity. Even now, as Jessica Ashleys and Jessica Ashlees and Jessica Ashleighs flood the Google alert on my name and stomp on my hope of securing my own moniker on social networks, I like the name that says who I am.
As a survivor of the most popular list from decades ago and as a woman who has always been able to find a little customized license plate waiting in gift shops in every state she’s visited, I have this advice to offer parents who are naming newborns in the year ahead: For the love of Jessicas and Jennifers and Hannahs and Jacobs everywhere, please skip Katniss is 2013.
Katniss has captured the number one spot on the most popular names for 2012’s girls, following the popularity of the Hunger Games franchise, says a 13-million pageview survey released by Nameberry. I suppose in a romantic way we could point to Dr. Zhivago‘s Lara or To Kill A Mockingbird‘s Atticus, or even Luke and Leia, Maverick and Jasmine and tell ourselves that paying homage to a character as we name our baby is perfectly beautiful. And maybe it is. In theory.
It could be a great intention to wish your precious daughter to be a valiant warrior of a woman and to name her in testament to that hope. But before you do, please think about how eyes will roll and questions asked and the same old explanations offered over and over and exhaustingly over for this kid named Katniss.
There are plenty of other lovely choices on the Most Popular Names list. Peruse them — Penelope, pushed up to the sixth spot by the newest Kardashian grandchild? Or Violet and Seraphina, name of the Garner-Affleck heirs?
I even advocate holding on to the Sex And the City glory days with Charlotte or Sawyer more than I can give a nod of approval to Hunger Names.
Finn, Asher and Henry are secure in the first, second and third boy name spots — and could be on your child’s birth certificate as well. Wren may work, so could Cyrus. Felix or Luna, anyone?
How about some royalty-inspired monikers, like Beatrix, Harry or Caroline? Or one of the unisex heavy-hitters, like Harper, Quinn or Kai? (Breeze past Merida as well, please.)
See how many great ways there are to ensure your child always has pre-printed stickers in her name or his teacher will be able to pronounce what’s written on the attendance sheet? Doesn’t Milo or Imogen or Rory sound like a MUCH better idea that a name that will be accompanied by an eyeroll 67% of the time?
Am I the only one lobbying for Katniss to be kicked off the list for next year? January birthing moms, I leave this one up to you.
What say you about kids being named Katniss at an alarming rate?
While you ponder the preposterousness of it all, consider the top 10 Most Popular Baby Name list issued by Nameberry.
Read more of Jessica’s adventures as a single mom in the city at Sassafrass.
Meet up on Twitter.
Ogle shoes together on Pinterest.
Read more of Sassafrass Says So Here: