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

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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20 Responses to “Reality Baby Names from Mild to Wild: Alena, Camila and Jaxie”

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Ilsarana Says:

February 10th, 2014 at 5:24 am

Alma not only has meaning in Spanish 🙂
In Hungarian it means ‘apple’ 😀

Abby Says:

February 10th, 2014 at 7:13 am

@Ilsarana – Ooh – great fact! Thank you. 🙂

Saracita00 Says:

February 10th, 2014 at 8:24 am

Enjoy reading your feature, as always! I can’t say that I find any of this week’s names appealing, though. I wouldn’t mind Bo on a girl, but Beau makes me cry for the next generation and wonder whether they will ever discover Victorian literature.

Frankie Says:

February 10th, 2014 at 9:41 am

I actually love Beau on a girl. Alma and Annabel are nice, and I’m kind of liking Jaxie.

mill1020 Says:

February 10th, 2014 at 10:51 am

I was reading about the Jonas baby, Alena, and assuming the name was pronounced the same way as Elena or Alaina. Is it more of an Aleena?

Anotherkate Says:

February 10th, 2014 at 11:29 am

I don’t mind many of them, Alma and Tenley are favorites from the list. But Beau on a girl and jaxie are kind of terrible.

Giinkies Says:

February 10th, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Beau on a girl really pissed me off. To me, it shows ignorance of the French language.
I feel similarly about Isabeau, but just plain old Beau is worse.

befx217 Says:

February 10th, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Jaxie is absolutely awful, it’s slang for buttocks!

southern.maple Says:

February 10th, 2014 at 12:31 pm

Beau on a girl is just dumb, to be honest. It is a masculine word. The feminine form is Belle.

I fail to see how Alena is “different” when it sounds like 40 other names in the top 500.

Sorceress Says:

February 10th, 2014 at 1:04 pm

This article made me add Alena to my list. There’s only 6 similar names in top 500 – Elena, Alina, Elaina, Alana, Selena and Lena. And these names are pronounced differently. Because Alena is not in top 1000, it’s is original, even more so because it’s pronounced differently.

indiefendi Says:

February 10th, 2014 at 1:13 pm

There’s an actress named Beau Garrett, so it’s not unheard of on a girl and these days with girls named Dylan and Logan and Billie and what not it’s not surprising. I actually think Beau is cute on a girl. It’s better than Greg (for example) hahahaha

indiefendi Says:

February 10th, 2014 at 1:15 pm

and yeah Beau means handsome (or it can mean boyfriend). Belle would be the feminine version.

Sorceress Says:

February 10th, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Correction… Alena is in top 1000.

klutzy_girl Says:

February 10th, 2014 at 1:39 pm

I never heard of Alena before the Jonas’ used it, and now I love it. “Alena Rose” is such a pretty name, and my favorite on this list (Alena’s also been added to my favorites list).

Isabeau makes me think of Lost Girl (the main character is named that, but goes by Bo) and I like it. Beau’s not the worst name for a girl, and I happen to like Beau Katherine. It’s cute and works.

MaryB Says:

February 10th, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Ok Alena is not in any way ‘different’ or ‘out there’. If you count all the various spellings of Alana, Alayna, Elena, Elayna, Alaina, etc…it would be a top 20 name. My close friend is a 1979 baby Alana, and she says the name is EVERYWHERE since about 2005. Every girl a different spelling so they don’t count as the ‘same name’. Sorry just bothers me that this name is somehow still considered a new or unique pick, though it has been extremely trendy for 10 years.

LuMary Says:

February 10th, 2014 at 3:53 pm

Shane doesn’t seem as trendy to me as Chase or Blake. From what I understand, Shane is the way Sean is pronounced in the Ulster dialect of the Irish language. Also, I’ve heard of it as part of a surname, as in singer/songwriter, Joe McShane.

VegasCountryQueen Says:

February 10th, 2014 at 3:58 pm

I love Annabel (but prefer the spelling Annabelle) and Alena (but spelled Alaina). I adore the combo Beau Katherine (but prefer Katherine spelled Catherine). Not a fan of Jaxie, but I adore Taylor for a girl, because my best friend is named Taylor (he’s a guy). Shane is kind of cool for a boy, although dated. It goes well with Adam.

freya55 Says:

February 10th, 2014 at 6:18 pm

I am horrified at Jaxie! In the UK, Jaxie is really vulgar slang for someone rear-end!

loislane1222 Says:

February 11th, 2014 at 3:43 am

I have loved Annabel for years — and yes, with that spelling, after Edgar Allan Poe’s Annabel Lee.

Jaxie sounds … trashy.

tori101 Says:

February 11th, 2014 at 5:48 pm

I love Annabel, Alma, Alena, and Camila so gorgeous : )

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