Category: baby name popularity
Most of us know that the top names on the Social Security list aren’t given to as many babies as they once were. Here, data whiz Kelli shows how the Number 1 names have become less and less popular through the years, tracing the percentages of babies given the top name from 1880 to now.
I’ve been thinking lately about the name Jennifer.
The biggest down side of being named Jennifer, I think, is not its enormous popularity — it was the Number 1 name from 1970 through 1983, when over a million Jennifers were born. It’s certainly not the name itself, which has always been and remains lovely.
No, the biggest problem to my mind is that the name pretty much pegs you as someone who is now in her thirties or forties. You’re date stamped, as surely as someone named Shirley is getting on 80 or Susan is a Baby Boomer or Mason was born in the Kardashian Era.
This is not a problem so much when you’re young, but as you get older, you (or more precisely, your child) may not appreciate having a name that broadcasts to your employers and everyone on Match.com: Yo, I’m 58!
Fast forward to 2014 and I would be surprised to see Deborah on a birth announcement, but not on a grandmother. At the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Allison on a birth announcement but I would be shocked to meet a grandma Allison.
Yet I can imagine both names on moms.
In 1970, the novel Love Story captured America‘s imagination with the tale of a wealthy Harvard jock who meets a girl from the other side of the tracks. It was soon followed by a movie of the same name — a tear-jerker that became the top box-office draw of the year. The American Film Institute has named Love Story one of the ten most romantic movies of all time, but its biggest legacy may be solidifying Jennifer‘s status as the top girl’s name of the 1970s and early-’80s.
The heroine of the book and movie (played by Ali McGraw) was named Jennifer “Jenny” Cavalleri. And in addition to being a wisecracking beauty, she had terminal leukemia. (I’m not spoiling anything here. The very first line of the movie is: “What can you say about a 25-year-old girl who died?”) .
Apparently America‘s response to watching a tragic girl fall in love and die was, “Hey, cool name.” Jennifer supplanted Lisa as the most popular name in the United States in 1970 and didn’t relinquish its grip until 1985.