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Reality Baby Names from Mild to Wild: Alena, Camila and Jaxie

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By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Reality television has become a real influence in baby naming.

And why not?

Hollywood A-listers like Hugh Grant and Owen Wilson might hesitate to announce details of their new arrivals, but reality stars tend to be eager to share pictures, and, of course, baby names.

There’s no shortage of reality stars, either.

The Bachelor is currently in Season 18 – making it older than the iPhone or Twitter. We’ve been cataloging J names used by the Duggar mega-family for a decade, since their first television special debuted back in 2004.  And MTV has been pioneering the genre since 1992, with their tremendously successful Teen Mom franchise boosting names like Bentley.

Even if you aren’t watching the shows, chances are that you’ve heard the birth announcements.  From Trista Sutter’s Blakesley Grace to Holly Madison’s Rainbow Aurora, their new arrivals make magazine covers and talk shows.

The names range from the Top 100 to the totally out-there, from the mild to the wild.  The nine reality show names in the news are:

ShaneAndrew Firestone was The Bachelor back in 2003, noteworthy not just for his reality-star good looks, but for his family.  Yes, those Firestones, as in the tire company.  While Andrew didn’t find true love on dating show, he did marry Serbian-born model Ivana Bozilovic in 2008.  Now the couple has welcomed baby #3, Shane, a brother for Adam Brooks, known by his middle, and Anja JasmineShane is a surprising choice – originally boosted by a 1953 Western, it peaked in the 1970s and held on into the 1980s.  Today it is fading, but still fits in with names like Chase and Blake.

Marley Eva Marcille won the third cycle of America’s Next Top Model and has gone on to host shows on BET and Oxygen.  Now she and singer boyfriend Kevin McCall have welcomed a daughter, Marley RaeMarley peaked in 2008, the same year that bestselling novel Marley and Me hit the big screen.  That’s a story about a dog, but the name tracks with Hailey and Carlie and lots of other –ley names for girls.

Annabel – We all know actor James van der Beek from his turn on Dawson’s Creek.  Most recently he’s been playing a sort-of-kind-of version of himself on Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 and raising a growing family.  He and wife Kimberly recently welcomed a third child.  Daughter Annabel joins Olivia and Joshua.  The new dad Tweeted, “I could only come up with one name for our baby girl.  Same for @vanderkimberly.  Turns out it was the same name.”  While Annabel is solidly mainstream – spelled Annabelle, the name ranked #100 in 2012 – it is actually the most adventurous name chosen by the couple.

Camila – The current Bachelor is Juan Pablo Galavis, a former professional soccer player in Venezuela.  Like many a contestant, Galavis has a child from a former relationship.  He and Venezuelan actress Carla Rodriguez are parents to Camila.  This name has skyrocketed in the last twenty years, from obscurity to the US Top 50.

Alma – I’ve been fascinated by this name ever since she was the girl-done-wrong in the 1981 horror film Ghost Story.  Now the name is back in the spotlight thanks to reality series Wahlburgers, profiling the brothers Wahlberg: Mark, Donnie, and PaulPaul is the lone brother to have never acted.  Instead he’s been running a restaurant.  Alma is the matriarch – in fact, the family’s first restaurant is called Alma Nove.  As a given name, it was popular back in the 1890s and early 1900s.  Could it make a comeback today, a vintage mash-up of Alice and Emma?  Maybe.  Another bonus?  In Spanish, Alma means soul.

Tenley – Before the was reality television, there were Olympic athletes.  Tenley Albright won a gold medal in women’s figure skating in 1956, a first for the US.  She’s launched a website to connect with other women called Tenley, at least some of whom were named after her.  The name has ranked in the US Top 1000 since 2010, not because of the Olympian – but probably because a young woman named Tenley competed on The Bachelor that year.

AlenaKevin Jonas has grown up in the public eye, graduating from music to Disney Channel-fame to reality stardom.  He and wife Danielle have starred in two season’s of Married to Jonas on E!  Now they’re in the news as new parents to Alena Rose.  The couple described the name they’d chosen as “different” but “not totally out there.”  The relatively-rare Alena hits that mark – but will the new Jonas’ name catch on?

Beau Katherine Brothers and Sisters alum Sarah Jane Morris and musician husband Ned Brower borrowed from the boys for their new daughter’s name.  Beau Katherine joins big brother Emmett Andrew.  No word on their inspiration, but in our age of Blair Waldorf and Blake Lively, it isn’t too surprising to hear Beau on a girl.  And while the name leans solidly masculine, feminine rarities like Isabeau do include the sound.

Jaxie Taylor – Let’s end with a name on the wild side, a recent invention that could catch on.  We first met Mackenzie Douthit on MTV’s Sixteen and Pregnant.  She and boyfriend Josh McKee welcomed a son named Gannon.  Now the couple has married and added to their family with daughter Jaxie TaylorTaylor is mom’s middle name, too.  It’s a logical evolution from Jackson to Jaxon to feminine form Jaxie.  And while there’s nothing vintage about this noveau name, she’s not out of place in the company of kicky retro picks like Hattie and Elsie.

Have you spotted any great names on reality television?   

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