Celebrity Gender-Benders: Blake, Reese, and Drew
Can celebrities have an impact on the gender ID of their names? You betcha. First there were some earlier actresses with predominantly male names like Glenn Close, Sean Young, Michael Learned and Darryl Hannah, and then, more recently, Bryce Dallas Howard, Elisha Cuthbert, Tierney Sutton, Jules Asner and Mischa Barton, who have opened the door to the gender-bending of their names.
Here are some who have had a perceivable influence in making their lad names more acceptable for ladies.
Blake Lively, who was named after her grandmother’s brother, broke out in her role as Serena van der Woodsen in the CW teen drama series Gossip Girl in 2007, though she 'd had been seen in films before that. Blake entered the girls’ list in 1990, and is now at its high of 550, while still way ahead for boys at #75.
- Blake Lively, who was named after her grandmother’s brother, broke out in her role as Serena van der Woodsen in the CW teen drama series Gossip Girl in 2007, though she 'd had been seen in films before that. Blake entered the girls’ list in 1990, and is now at its high of 550, while still way ahead for boys at #75." >
- Cameron Diaz had a huge naming impact, as this Scottish classic had rarely been used for girls before she rose to prominence in the 1990s. Though it did enter the female list in 1980, its sharp rise coincided with Diaz’s ascent, reaching a peak of 176 in 1999 (when it was 33 for boys), now at 566 for girls." >
- Drew Barrymore comes by her family first name legitimately—her great-great grandfather was John Drew. In 1994, at the height of Barrymore’s early fame, Drew came onto the girls’ list, reaching a high of Number 614, when it was 171 for boys." >
- Hadley was a ho-hum boy’s name that took a big leap for girls with the publication of the biography of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife Hadley, the bestselling The Paris Wife, and it’s now Number 111—though obviously an appearance on True Blood didn’t hurt." >
- Hayden wasn’t even perceived as a girl’s name until 1998, but then the prominence of actress-singer Hayden Panettiere helped push it up to a high of 127 in 2008. Hayden is now Number 193 for girls, almost neck-and-neck with the boys’ rating of #129." >
- Hunter Tylo (born Deborah Jo), a name that entered for girls in 1993. It now seems to be seeing a resurgence—it was one of the fastest-rising names of 2013, jumping 266 places. No chance of a takeover though—Hunter is now in 36th place for boys." >
- Leighton Meester, another Gossip Girl, whose character was the androgynously named Blair, hitting it big in 2007. As a result, her name entered the girls’ list in 2009, going on to reach a high of 530 in 2011. And where is brother Leighton? He’s slid right off the list." >
- Laura) Mackenzie Phillips was a cute young teen star on One Day at a Time in the 1970s, there weren’t many girls with Mac- names, but she was partly responsible for its entry in 1976. Phillips herself has traveled a rough road, but her name has continue to rise and survive, reaching the Top 40 in 2001 and now ranking at Number 62." >
- Morgan Fairchild (born Patsy) had a huge influence on the feminization of her adopted stage name. Morgan entered the girls’ list in 1976, when Fairchild was starring on a soap, and had climbed its way up to a high of Number 22 by 1997, now residing at 100. Ranking for boy Morgans: down at 662." >
- Indie movie fave Parker Posey made her contribution to the trend. Her name entered the pink zone in 1999, and currently is at a high of 267. There are still many more male Parkers though—it’s at Number 74 right now." >
- Reese Witherspoon is probably the clearest-cut examples of this phenomenon. She was born Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon, Reese being her mother’s maiden name. Reese came onto the girl’s list in 2000, the year after the actress made her mark in Election. It went on to climb 710 places since then, and now is 446 rungs ahead of the boy Reeses!" >
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on September 12th, 2014 at 6:23 am
These are not unisex names. These are boys’ names on girls. Notice how the trend doesn’t go the other way? That’s because this whole phenomenon rests upon the notion that masculinity connotes positive traits — these names are strong! Smart! Spunky! — while femininity is a contaminant (once names “go pink” their use for boys drops precipitously). When names gender bend in only one direction, that’s a manifestation of our culture’s internalized (and externalized) misogyny.
So, Nameberry, when are you going to write that blog post about exclusively historically female names that you recommend for boys?
on September 12th, 2014 at 6:32 am
Blake, Reese, Hunter, Cameron, Parker and Drew still feel absolutely all-male to me. They’re so masculine.
However, Morgan and Leighton just seem so feminine to me. Mackenzie feels like a girl’s name but it has a tomboyish vibe.
I have mixed feelings for Hadley and Hayden. Hadley leans a little to the girls but Hayden to the boys.
on September 12th, 2014 at 8:10 am
@augusta_lee: Maybe they should have also included Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson as examples of male celebrities that took on female names?
on September 12th, 2014 at 10:39 am
I share Augusta_lee’s opinion. Nameberry seems to be encouraging “boys names on girls” and the whole unisex trend which I find very one-sided and misogynist. This is the second blog in a row regarding these types of names and it’s getting kind of redundant. Nameberry should be a place of new and revolutionary ideas and bold, open-minded concepts. Sadly, it just seems to be encouraging a practice that favours one gender over the other. I realize that this site is the baby of Linda and Pamela and therefore it expresses their views. However, do the opinions have to be so one-sided? This matter goes beyond what style each individual finds more appealing. We’re all aware of what’s going on in the “real world” outside of our little Berry community but do we have to be constantly whacked over the head with it? It hurts that I have to say these things but how many times do we need to see the same names? This isn’t a personal attack by the way. It’s a cry of frustration at the lack of fair coverage.
on September 12th, 2014 at 11:28 am
Drew, Reese, Blake, Cameron, Hadley, Hayden, Leighton (I never knew this was a boy name), Morgan, and Mackenzie are my faves from this! Parker I never liked as a first name and Hunter I never really liked on a girl. Hadley is so pretty and WASPy.
Drew —- along with Dylan I think it’s really cool.
Reese —– I only knew a boy named Reese but Reese Witherspoon shows how nice it can be on a girl. Like Blake.
Blake —– I can go on and on about my love for Blake
Cameron —— firstly THIS spelling is best, not Cameryn (which I just saw a few minutes ago ewww), Camryn, Kameron, Kamryn, Camerin, none of those. Cameron I’ve only seen as a girls name because Cameron Diaz was the first person I remember hearing it on. But obviously this is a boy name too. I guess with the spelling variations and what not you can make it boy or girl. I’d only use it on a girl.
Hadley —– I didn’t like at first but it’s been growing on me like crazy! This can be either/or. Hadley Hemingway or John Hadley Hemingway. Lovely
Hayden ——- Hayden Panettiere formed my opinion of this name. Girly, pretty, soft, cool. But one might see this in the same family as Holden, Hudson, etc. so to each their own?
Leighton —— I think I knew a male Leighton in high school but Lleyton Hewitt is the other other male Leighton I’ve ever heard of. Leighton Meester has the celeb influence over this name like Scarlett Johansson does Scarlett.
Morgan —— my cousin’s name! Morgan Elisabeth. Morgan Freeman and Morgan Spurlock are the only male Morgans I know off. Otherwise for a long time I thought this was only for girls. But Morgan Freeman is a handsome name in his own right!
Mackenzie —— only girl to me even though the meaning is “son of Kenneth” it’s really cutesy to me.
on September 12th, 2014 at 11:29 am
I guess Nameberry should do a girls name for boys list next? That’d be fair.
on September 12th, 2014 at 11:59 am
@Misha et al–Thanks, we will take this under very serious consideration.
on September 12th, 2014 at 5:00 pm
I try to stay out the ridiculous arguments over things like this, but I just can’t. They seem to be permeating the site these days.
I’m confused over the statement that there have been two blogs in a row exactly like this? Wasn’t the point of the last blog for people to share what names they thought worked for either sex. Wasn’t that an opportunity for people to share their thoughts if there were “girls’ names” that they also liked for boys.
You know, I have been with Nameberry from the very very beginning. I’m glad Nameberry has grown, but I do miss the time when people just simply shared their opinions on names. And everyone’s tastes varied wildly and that was fine. You said what you liked without insulting people who did not agree. If you didn’t agree, SO WHAT?? People are here with so many different backgrounds, life experiences, and perspectives. People were not over dramatic and rude when they didn’t share the exact same opinion. I wish people would just take a step back. You can give an opinion in a respectful way. There is after all, no Universal Truth when it comes to names!
on September 12th, 2014 at 5:20 pm
Can we put Tracy Morgan, Kelsey Grammer, Taylor Lautner, and Evelyn Waugh on the list with Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson? Granted, it’s not quite the same situation as Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson, but a post about men who have either taken a feminine name or wear a name that’s perceived as feminine would be interesting to see.
on September 12th, 2014 at 5:24 pm
Isn’t Mischa a boy’s name?
on September 12th, 2014 at 5:25 pm
*also Mischa Barton should be added to this list.
» Celebrity Gender-Benders: Blake, Reese, and Drew Baby Name Suggestion Said
on September 12th, 2014 at 5:38 pm
[…] How a select group of stars have made their once-all-male names into baby girl possibilities, as in Hunter, Hayden and Hadley. Nameberry – Baby Name Blog […]
on September 12th, 2014 at 8:29 pm
Misha is Russian diminutive of Mikhail.
on September 12th, 2014 at 8:31 pm
We could also add Sacha Baron Cohen and Misha Collins to the list of men since so many Americans insist that Misha and Sasha are girl names.
on September 12th, 2014 at 10:31 pm
Would anyone be interested in writing a guest blog on the reverse– girls names for boys?
on September 13th, 2014 at 12:44 am
Hunter Tylo also had a unisex name in The Bold and the Beautiful. She played Dr. Taylor. That’s where my mother got my name from. She heard it and knew that Taylor was going to be my name 🙂
on September 13th, 2014 at 10:44 pm
I completely share Augusta_lee’s and mischa’s opinions. Names like Emlyn, used as a boys name in Wales, are “feminine” but why is that a bad thing? The fact that Hayden sounds masculine doesn’t seem to be negative. And this is not only the second blog post in a row that perpertrates opinions like this, posts about starbabies often seems to advertise this same trend.
I do approve of freedom for naming your children, and if you want to name your daughter Hadley I don’t care, who am I to stop you? BUT just because people do this, doesn’t make it a reason to advertise it as modern and spunky.
I think nameberry should compile more unusual lists instead of just mainstream trends, after all, most of us on here have alternative naming taste and don’t always adhere to what’s “trendy” and “innovative”
on September 14th, 2014 at 10:13 am
@linda: I would. I can email you with my credentials if you like.
on September 15th, 2014 at 1:57 am
Yay for augusta_lee guest blogging!
on December 4th, 2014 at 3:58 am
I don’t think I’d want to read a guest blog by Augusta_Lee. Judgemental express. Name trends change. Just suck it up. Ashley, Kelly, Courtney, Shannon, Aubrey, etc… all boys names that are now mainly girls names. Get over it. How about people just like the names they like and you just move on and realize people have different tastes instead of getting all high and mighty? I also hate how “gendered” everything is. What if your little one doesn’t identify with their gender? It happens. I hate the whole “That name is only for boys!” or “That name is only for girls!” It’s a name. Or is pink for girls and blue for boys, and there is no in between?
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