…Are we okay?! Of course we’re not. Is anything we’re going to discuss going to affect anything, or is it just distraction?
I mean, I would have gone with the latter, if not for you guys. This is what we do, we listen to each other, take care of each other, and send distractions or amusements when we can, right?
Jo sent this earlier in the week, and it was resonant then, and even more over the last few days as a balm after the horrors on CNN. Here’s an excerpt The Daily Show posted Wednesday of an interview from November in which Trevor Noah talks with Kamala Harris about the reactions to her name. He starts in an amusingly typical Trevor Noah way:
“Why does it seem like it becomes harder to pronounce your name the more conservative a person is?”
But her response did the unthinkable yesterday (and today): it gave me some hope.
So. That moment might not get us through everything that’s happening, but she’s a human who gives us hope, which might keep us hanging on just a little bit longer…
Second, I’m grateful to each and every person who RACED to send me this piece about the alleged feud between two influencers who chose the same name for their daughters: Baby.
Or rather, one is Baby – formally, Baby-Rae Hart – and one is Baybi Blue Benz. And they’re three years apart. I’m not even going to get into the idea of a feud, or name-stealing, because that’s not what this is about. Instead I’m going to make unapologetic snap judgments about people who choose this particular name for their children. There are many bad names, that indicate what the parent wants the child to be rather than who – and I’m not talking about “oh if I name her Gisele maybe she’ll be beautiful!”
As far as I’m concerned, naming your child “Baby” is a clear indicator that you are willfully ignorant about human development. Too strong? I say “willfully” because these people, who have gone through months of pregnancy, somehow never stopped to think of how it would feel to snap, “Are you listening to me, Baby?!” while a zitty, resentful, sloth-like teenager resolutely stares at a screen. They have chosen not to consider a situation in which Baybi Blue Benz might find herself having to insist, repeatedly, that her name is not a joke.
Again, I know nothing about these women and their partners, but if you’re naming your child BABY I’m pretty clear that you have no interest in them actually growing up, or being anything beyond a prop for your brand.
Or – maybe they just don’t understand names to begin with, as evidenced by this quote (from the mother of “Baby”):
“I first heard it in the movie Dirty Dancing and always thought I’d love to name my daughter Baby. I was hesitant to ask James about it at first but we just weren’t landing on a name. Finally, probably a month before she was born, I said what about Baby, and he said, ‘Oh my gosh, I love it.’ It’s felt right ever since.”
I know we all know what I’m about to say, but it’s been a hard few days, please indulge me:
- Her name is not BABY, it is FRANCES. “Baby” is a NICKNAME
- …which she GROWS TO RESENT because she wants to BE SEEN as an ADULT
- WHICH IS THE ***ENTIRE GODDAMN POINT*** OF THE MOVIE!!!
- I don’t know ‘James’? But he almost certainly never, ever said that, I don’t believe it.
Okay, thanks for that indulgence. I’m trying not to yell in my real life, because it’s entirely futile but ….that felt good.
Thank you for sending me these name stories, and for caring about the ways names help us see the world – I needed the reframe this week. Thanks too for your regular name questions, which will return next time. Here’s a teaser from next week’s letter:
“Are names tainted if one of the parents dated someone with the same name in the past? What if it wasn't a serious relationship or just a short term fling, does that change things?”
We’ll get into it. And hopefully by that point we’ll have a whole new outlook. Thanks for being here in the meantime.