What’s in a name? Well, here — in semi-answer of that question — is an animated GIF map of girls’ baby names in American history, from 1960 to the present day, via info provided by the Social Security Administration. Sadly, the girl’s name that I would ever pick if I had a baby — “Illyana” — did not make the cut.
The GIF was made for Jezebel by Deadspin editor Reuben Fischer-Baum; it shows the most popular name for each year, as well as the most popular name for every state, rendered in lovely pastel-ish shades that would be appropriate for decorating your spare nursery room, should you ever be inclined to stop being a millennial pointless skinny-jeans-hipster thingy, in favor of becoming a Mommy or Daddy thingy.
In the past fifty some years, only two names ever ended up dominating the entire United States, covering all fifty states. Before viewing the map, can you guess which names they are? Go ahead and view the map now:
…Yes, the proletarian “Lisa” dominated the U.S. in the Sixties, despite not being a very Sixties-ish name. And then “Jennifer” dominates the entire fucking 70s and 80s, which I can confirm is what happened, because we had about seventeen girls named Jennifer something or other in my homeroom in elementary school. We had two girls named Jennifer Brown, which meant we had to distinguish them by their middle names: “Is Jennifer Brown at home sick today?” “…Do you mean Jennifer A. Brown, or Jennifer S. Brown?” Which was annoying, to have to do that. And so, fuck you, vast, vile, bland tide of Jennifer, you sweeping red-colored tide that swept our nation for over a decade.
ANY-way. So,kudos most go out to the random weird states of Idaho, New Mexico, and Wisconsin, who sometimes manage to buck national trends, and choose odd unlovely names like “Lori,” “Taylor,” “Alyssa,” and “Samantha.” Also, slightly lesser kudos go to the state of West Virginia, which keeps trying to make “Brittany” a name that is not just for white-trash motor-home bucktoothed girls anymore! But of course they fail, because, West Virginia.
By the way, if you want to be (ever-so-briefly) on the cutting edge, and pick an actual “trendy” kids’ name, The Huffington Post, as always, has some suggestions for you. The Huff Po suggests…
- “Fierce” names — such as “Bear,” “Fox,” “Wolf,” and “Lynx.” Perfect if you want to name your kid after whatever animal is on your faux-vintage ironic T-shirt.
- “Cowboy” names — and we quote, “Western-sounding names fit for a new generation of ‘lil cowboys: Boone and Bo, Wyatt and Wylie, Cole and Colt, Zane and Shane, and even Maverick.” …What the fuck, Huffington Post?
- “Adjective” names — “Royal,” “Happy,” “Loving,” and “Sunny.” No goddamn comment.
- …Also The Huffington Post keeps pushing “Arlo” as a name that is somehow okay and cool. …Nope.
In conclusion, please do not name your kids any of these fucking things. Name your kid “Mary” or something. It was acceptable in 1960, and still acceptable today. On an unrelated note, my research showed that my name, “Oliver,” will be a “trendy” boys’ name by the year 2020. And I am not looking forward to that. At all.
image – Reuben Fischer-Baum