Hair-Raising Baby Names!
By Emily Cardoza
Recently I changed my hair pretty drastically, and I’m very happy with the results. As always, whenever a new subject enters my mind, I have to find a way to connect it with names! So today’s post is about hair-related names.
Many of us already know the Biblical story – super strong man falls for femme fatale, and femme fatale shaves his head, sapping him of his strength. I like this Wikipedia quote about Samson: “Samson had two vulnerabilities—his attraction to untrustworthy women and his hair, without which he was powerless.” Delilah has rocketed in popularity in recent years, thanks to Tom Jones and the Plain White T’s. Samson has only been used in the last few decades, as an alternative to ever-popular Samuel. Both names have more or less distanced themselves from their hairy origins, and neither would surprise too many people today.
This name is VERY attached to its origin story, but that didn’t stop a few parents in 1959 – nine baby girls were born that year named Rapunzel. My theory is that an episode of Shirley Temple’s Storybook, which aired in 1958, changed some minds. The name Rapunzel comes from the rapunzel plant, a kind of leaf vegetable, which was part of the original story. In any case, the name, while pretty, would be really hard to pull off – and why subject your child to daily “let down your hair” jokes for the rest of her life?
It seemed that every year at least a few girls I knew would stick a wire hanger in their hair to create gravity-defying braids on Crazy Hair Day – hence Pippi‘s addition to this list! The children’s book character was also super strong (another example of strength tied to hair) and there have been countless shows, films, and stories created about Pippi. While the original name has never been used – and could admittedly lead to some teasing – similar Pippa has come back in full force.
As a child, I was told often that I bore a resemblance to the 1930’s child star – most little girls with blonde curls get told that at least once. In any case, the adorable Shirley Temple was a natural blonde, though her curls were styled by her mother from an early age. The name Shirley was popular from the 1920’s through the 1960’s, but is much rarer today. Is it still terminally dated, or will we see a Shirley comeback along with other vintage names making waves? Time will tell!
The blonde bombshell of 1940’s Hollywood ended up with her signature hairstyle based on an accidental take – her hair fell over her right eye, and a look was born. The style was copied by many at the time, and even some of today’s retro styles aim for a Veronica Lake “peek-a-boo”. The saintly name Veronica, meaning “true image,” had a short spike in the 1940’s, but really became popular in the 1970’s. Its lilting melody and feminine vibe make it a lovely choice for any era!
Let’s jump ahead a few decades to 1977, when the Farrah-flip was all the rage at hair salons. Actress and artist Farrah Fawcett inspired many women to recreate her bouncy feathered flip look – check your own family photos to see if any of your relatives followed suit! The actress was actually born Mary Leni Farrah Fawcett, but went by the most unusual of her first three names. Farrah briefly peaking in the late seventies, then went off the list until 2010. Today the name ranks at #759; it comes from the Arabic word for “happiness”.
When Friends debuted in 1994, many Americans rushed to their stylists to recreate Jennifer Aniston’s iconic layered look. “The Rachel” swept the nation, though it’s original wearer didn’t much like it herself. The names at play here, however, were far more popular than flash-in-the-pan hairstyles. Jennifer is now iconic as the most popular name of the 1970’s, and Rachel has never really left the top 200. Hairdos may come and go, it seems, but these names are forever!
Who did I miss? Any icons unnoticed? Tell me in the comments!