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What Does Your Name Say About You? Researchers Say Names Have Long Affected How People Perceive Us

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Francine Rosemary Davis comes from a family filled with traditional names. Her grandparents, Richard and Evelyn, named her mother Jill, who later named her children Kimberly, Lorrie and Francine. Her father? Charles. But for years, she got strange looks from kids and adults when she was introduced. She went to school with girls named Star, Diamond and Magnificent -- "perfectly acceptable names for black children," in a way Francine or even Emily and Sarah weren't, said Davis, who is black. When Davis moved to suburban Cleveland school, the comments kept coming. "'That's an old lady's name!'" she remembers her peers and their parents saying. "'The only people left with that name are older ladies.'" Perceptions about her based on her name followed her into adulthood, too - she's 30, but people often assume she's older, and maybe white, she said. "Now that we're older and looking to get a career, you'll send out a resume and when you walk through the door you'll get a strange look because you're not the person they expected to see," said Davis, who works as a chemical engineer. Researchers say our names have long affected how people perceive us, but trends and traditions around names - and what they say about our gender, age, race and ethnicity - are changing. Jessica Simpson announced yesterday the birth of her new little one, Maxwell Drew -- a 9 pound 13 ounce girl. She's not the first to grab headlines with a nontraditional name: Tom Cruise and Kate Holmes have a daughter, Suri, Jay Z and Beyonce have their Blue Ivy bundle of joy and there's no forgetting Gwyneth Paltrow's daughter, Apple. Celeb chef Jamie Oliver has four little ones: Poppy Honey Rosie, Daisy Boo Pamela, Petal Blossom Rainbow and Buddy Bear Maurice. During the last half-century, parents from all racial and ethnic backgrounds have turned to less popular or traditional names and more believe it's important to find distinctive names for their children, said Hannah Emery, a sociology doctoral student at University of California Berkeley, who spent years researching naming practices. "The parents I spoke to didn't want an 'Apple,' but they didn't want an Isabella or Jacob, either," she said, referencing the most popular names for girls and boys in 2010. "In the few cases where parents I spoke to had inadvertently chosen a Top 10 name and found out about it after the fact, they were almost apologetic, as if they thought they had somehow done a disservice to their child by choosing a common name." Different race and ethnicity groups have different traditions, too. African-American parents are more likely to choose unique or invented names, Emery said, while Asian immigrant parents are likely to choose names already popular among white American parents. In the last 40 years, parents stretched the boundaries of how names are tied to gender, especially by naming more little girls with what used to be the domain of boys, like little Maxwell Drew. (CNN's Marquee blog reports that Maxwell is said to be father Eric Johnson's middle name, and his grandmother's maiden name. Drew is said to be maternal grandma Tina Simpson's maiden name.) Despite the naming shifts, people still make assumptions about others based on them, Emery said. "People can make educated guesses about your gender, possibly your race or religion, maybe the era in which you were born and in some cases those educated guesses can lead to judgments being made about you, sight-unseen," Emery said. Davis said her traditional name only allowed for her personality to shine. "A lot of people want to live with their name remembered, but who is the person behind the name?" Davis said. "I'd rather have people know me personally than remember me for what my name is."

by on May. 3, 2012 at 8:48 PM
Replies (11-20):
Kylie819
by Bronze Member on May. 4, 2012 at 1:50 AM
I like my name. It's Sarah.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
gypsy_rose
by Kandy on May. 4, 2012 at 6:57 AM

your name is actualy old. It originated with shakespeare.

Quoting SunnyJoJo:

Mine too, Jessica.  I had like 6 other Jessica's in my grade alone.

I don't totally understand what the point of this article is. I'm not being sassy, but seriously I don't get it. Maybe I'm having reading comprehension issues right now. 
OMG no joke, my mom worked with a woman named Princess Diana Spencer. (as in princess diana's maiden name princess diana) Like her first name is Princess and her middle name is Diana Spencer and then her last name. She goes by Princess. Ok, not only does she go by princess but she works in a field that is predominantly male and is a VP at her company, in a career that is predominantly male, named Princess. So you wanna talk about going against some name stereotypes.... lol!

Quoting MIA0223:

I am Michelle.
A "made in the 80s" name! Lol!



The month of May is the Nerofibromatosis awarness month. 

One of the major signs are cafe au lait spots (flat brown spots on the skin).

Please research this disorder! 

I have this disorder myself.

gypsy_rose
by Kandy on May. 4, 2012 at 6:59 AM

your name actualy came out in the 40s :P

Michelle \m(i)-chellemich(el)-le\ as a girl's name is pronounced mee-SHELL. It is of French andHebrew origin, and the meaning of Michelle is "who resembles God?". Feminine form ofMichael. A popular name when it was first used in the 1940s, and made even more so by the Beatles' famous song "Michelle" in the 1970sPopular in GermanyActresses Michelle Pfeiffer, Sara Michelle Gellarsinger Me'Shell N'Degé Ocello; figure skater Michelle Kwan.

Michelle has 36 variant forms: ChelleMachelleMashelleM'chelleMechelleMeechelle,Me'ShellMeshellaMiaMicaelaMichaelaMichaelinaMichaelineMichaellaMichalMichela,MicheleMichelinaMichelineMichellMichellaMickiMickieMidgeMiguelaMiguelitaMikaela,MiquelaMishaMishaelleMishelleM'shellMycheleMychelleMyshell and Myshella.

For more information, see also related names NichelleShell and Shelley.

Baby names that sound like Michelle are MikelleMikellaMichailaMicole and Michala.

View a list of the 8 names that reference Michelle.

Quoting MIA0223:

I am Michelle.
A "made in the 80s" name! Lol!
I hate it.
I didn't even know the meaning of DDs name when I picked it. She is named after MIL though, loved the name first time I saw it and knowing it means friendly or faithful friend now, it fits my little Anisa perfectly!


The month of May is the Nerofibromatosis awarness month. 

One of the major signs are cafe au lait spots (flat brown spots on the skin).

Please research this disorder! 

I have this disorder myself.

mcginnisc
by Bronze Member on May. 4, 2012 at 7:01 AM

When I was growing up, I never knew anyone with my name. I was named after my Maternal GM...my name is increasingly popular now- Claire. I am constantly seeing people with my name. 

My girls have "common" names ... Lillian aka Lilly and Karli ( just a hippie way of spelling it as my DH puts it.) 

Claire

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Twisties34
by Member on May. 4, 2012 at 7:12 AM

Mine's Patricia which is latin for Noble Born. Hubby and I chose traditional names for our kids Peter Steven (he was the only Peter in his grade), and our daughter is Emma Victoria (there were several Emma's & Emily's in her grade).

mamivon2
by on May. 4, 2012 at 7:14 AM

Sandra plain and simple

MIA0223
by Michelle on May. 4, 2012 at 7:15 AM
Yeah, but it got too popular in the 80s
There were 3 other Michelle's just in my class room in elementary school!
Made in the 80s, mean all the Michelles were made in the 80s. Lol!


Quoting gypsy_rose:

your name actualy came out in the 40s :P

Michelle \m(i)-chellemich(el)-le\ as a girl's name is pronounced mee-SHELL. It is of French andHebrew origin, and the meaning of Michelle is "who resembles God?". Feminine form ofMichael. A popular name when it was first used in the 1940s, and made even more so by the Beatles' famous song "Michelle" in the 1970sPopular in GermanyActresses Michelle Pfeiffer, Sara Michelle Gellarsinger Me'Shell N'Degé Ocello; figure skater Michelle Kwan.

Michelle has 36 variant forms: ChelleMachelleMashelleM'chelleMechelleMeechelle,Me'ShellMeshellaMiaMicaelaMichaelaMichaelinaMichaelineMichaellaMichalMichela,MicheleMichelinaMichelineMichellMichellaMickiMickieMidgeMiguelaMiguelitaMikaela,MiquelaMishaMishaelleMishelleM'shellMycheleMychelleMyshell and Myshella.

For more information, see also related names NichelleShell and Shelley.

Baby names that sound like Michelle are MikelleMikellaMichailaMicole and Michala.

View a list of the 8 names that reference Michelle.


Quoting MIA0223:

I am Michelle.

A "made in the 80s" name! Lol!

I hate it.

I didn't even know the meaning of DDs name when I picked it. She is named after MIL though, loved the name first time I saw it and knowing it means friendly or faithful friend now, it fits my little Anisa perfectly!



Posted on CafeMom Mobile
gypsy_rose
by Kandy on May. 4, 2012 at 7:17 AM

LOL I have only met 2 other Kandys in my life. (Mandy candices but not many kandys)

Quoting MIA0223:

Yeah, but it got too popular in the 80s
There were 3 other Michelle's just in my class room in elementary school!
Made in the 80s, mean all the Michelles were made in the 80s. Lol!


Quoting gypsy_rose:

your name actualy came out in the 40s :P


Michelle \m(i)-chellemich(el)-le\ as a girl's name is pronounced mee-SHELL. It is of French andHebrew origin, and the meaning of Michelle is "who resembles God?". Feminine form ofMichael. A popular name when it was first used in the 1940s, and made even more so by the Beatles' famous song "Michelle" in the 1970sPopular in GermanyActresses Michelle Pfeiffer, Sara Michelle Gellarsinger Me'Shell N'Degé Ocello; figure skater Michelle Kwan.

Michelle has 36 variant forms: ChelleMachelleMashelleM'chelleMechelleMeechelle,Me'ShellMeshellaMiaMicaelaMichaelaMichaelinaMichaelineMichaellaMichalMichela,MicheleMichelinaMichelineMichellMichellaMickiMickieMidgeMiguelaMiguelitaMikaela,MiquelaMishaMishaelleMishelleM'shellMycheleMychelleMyshell and Myshella.

For more information, see also related names NichelleShell and Shelley.

Baby names that sound like Michelle are MikelleMikellaMichailaMicole and Michala.

View a list of the 8 names that reference Michelle.


Quoting MIA0223:

I am Michelle.

A "made in the 80s" name! Lol!

I hate it.

I didn't even know the meaning of DDs name when I picked it. She is named after MIL though, loved the name first time I saw it and knowing it means friendly or faithful friend now, it fits my little Anisa perfectly!




The month of May is the Nerofibromatosis awarness month. 

One of the major signs are cafe au lait spots (flat brown spots on the skin).

Please research this disorder! 

I have this disorder myself.

LyTe684
by Tasha on May. 4, 2012 at 7:39 AM
1 mom liked this
I know twins named Princess and Princessa.. Another girl named Princess.. And a girl that named her daughter Queen.

Quoting SunnyJoJo:

Mine too, Jessica.  I had like 6 other Jessica's in my grade alone.

I don't totally understand what the point of this article is. I'm not being sassy, but seriously I don't get it. Maybe I'm having reading comprehension issues right now. 
OMG no joke, my mom worked with a woman named Princess Diana Spencer. (as in princess diana's maiden name princess diana) Like her first name is Princess and her middle name is Diana Spencer and then her last name. She goes by Princess. Ok, not only does she go by princess but she works in a field that is predominantly male and is a VP at her company, in a career that is predominantly male, named Princess. So you wanna talk about going against some name stereotypes.... lol!

Quoting MIA0223:

I am Michelle.

A "made in the 80s" name! Lol!



Posted on CafeMom Mobile
SunnyJoJo
by on May. 4, 2012 at 9:38 AM

But back in the 80's it was the most popular name. Infact, I'm pretty sure it was number 1 when I was born. I actually believe it's a form of an old hebrew name if we really want to get down to it's roots.

Quoting gypsy_rose:

your name is actualy old. It originated with shakespeare.

Quoting SunnyJoJo:
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