Style Spotlight: Andro-Girly Names
Picture the color orange-purple. Or a sound that's whisper-loud. "Androgynous-girly" baby names may seem like another entry in that list of contradictions, yet the style is emerging as one of the top trends of this decade. The recipe is to start with an androgynous name -- typically a surname -- and play with the spelling until it looks as brightly girlish as a Justice clothing store. Popular examples include:
The historical graph of those names is a portrait of "right now":
This isn't the first wave of girls' names built off riffs on the opposite sex. Think of the old song in which "Frankie and Johnnie were lovers" but "he done her wrong." The Frankie, Johnnie, Eddie, Jimmie, Bobbie, Freddie, Billie, Bennie, Robbie, Tommie girl gang peaked in the 1920s:
That generation of names, though, had a different and more straightforward style profile than the andro-girlies. They were simply boyish. In fact, if you look at same the 10 "Frankie & Johnnie" names for boys, the popularity profile is similar:
The andro-girly names, in contrast, aren't even graphable for boys -- not one of them has ever cracked the top 1000 as a male name. Yet the underlying androgyny of the names shapes their style. Their impact comes from pulling hard in two opposite directions at once, in multiple dimensions; a youthful/feminine vector and an adult/masculine vector. Picture a pinstripe suit covered in hearts and flowers.
Like any strong flavor, andro-girly is not for everyone. The name style is rare in some parts of the country, but wildly fashionable in the region shown on this map:
You might recognize the Eastern contour of that map from the 2008 electoral map. This ultra-modern, areligious style that blurs gender boundaries is most popular in conservative-voting states. As usual, political/social ideology runs counter to baby name style.