Baby and brand

Yesterday I told my midwife our favoured name, and she immediately said, "Oh, she'll be famous, that's a brand of birth control pills!"

Now, her actual registered name will be a little different (the English version of the one the I told my midwife) but does this strike people as a problem? I tend to vastly undestimate pop culture connections because I don't have a TV and live in a bit of a bubble. I've also never been on the pill as I had a reaction to similar hormones one time, so this is the kind of thing that would NEVER have crossed my normal sphere of reference (or my partner's, obviously, as a man). I also wonder if being a midwife gives you more than usual levels of familiarity with these kinds of things.

My partner is not bothered about this...I think it's probably not a deal-breaker, but thought I'd check with people. Would you be familiar with most contraceptive brands, even one you don't use? Is a dominant brand reference enough to subvert a name with millennia of history. We're definitely not in Isis territory here, but it's not an ideal association.


February 13, 2018 7:31 AM

I think I know the one you are talking about - it wouldnt worry me,  the name has been around for a long time,  I wouldnt worry about the brand,  so many things these days are taken by brand names

February 13, 2018 11:06 AM

If the name you're considering sounds like Məreen@, then I have heard of that brand of birth control even though I'm in the same boat as you--haven't taken hormonal birth control in more than twenty years, and haven't owned a television for more than ten. If it's something else, I'm equally clueless :).

That said, even if it's truly famous I don't think it needs to be a deal-breaker. It sounds like it's not a name that you and the pharmaceutical company both made up from scratch, but rather a name with a history of use. Presumably the pharmaceutical company picked it because it has good connotations and "tested" well among women of childbearing age, and those associations and positive feelings aren't going to be wiped out by this added association.

I once knew a couple whose daughter was named Sienna; they would introduce her as "like the minivan". I always thought that was really smart--it made it easy to remember and spell her name, plus it took any potential sting out of the association, since they so clearly loved the name and didn't mind the minivan thing at all. It sounds like you would spell the name differently than the pill, so you wouldn't want/need to do this, but I think if you can be comfortable enough that if someone said "oh, like the pill?" you could say "sort of, but we spell it the traditional English way" or similar rather than "NO! NOT LIKE THAT AT ALL!" then you'll be good.

February 13, 2018 12:24 PM

I don't know if you have different brands where you are, but I looked up a list of brand names, fully expecting to recognize a bunch of them, but I knew two: the one mentioned above by nedibes and Y@z. I don't think that this needs to be a dealbreaker.

In the US in 2016, 52 girls were named Allegra, and I'm sure that the number would be higher if it weren't for the allergy medication, but in that case we're talking about monolinguistic naming and an exact match.

My biggest hesitation is that birth control is a very different situation than allergies. Some smart @ss might think it hilarious to make jokes like, "Well, I guess your parents weren't using it, eh?" -- or, you know, equivalent local wording ;) But I agree with nedibes that a lighthearted response would be an excellent buffer to any stray comments.

By EVie
February 13, 2018 1:51 PM

I honestly can't remember which of your names is birth-control-like, so I looked up a list to see if I could jog my memory. It didn't work, but I did come up with an impressive list of name-like birth control names, including:

Mirena, Yaz, Yasmin, Aviane, TriNessa, Apri, Mononessa, Provera, Cryselle, Levora, Ocella, Skyla, Jolessa, Camila, Jolivette, Errin, Nora-Be, Orsythia, Zarah, Beyaz, Gianvi, Loryna, Azurette, Kariva, Amethia, Balziva, Portia, Trivora, Amethyst, Viorele, Chateal, Jencycla, Lyza, Mircette, Natazia, Altavera, Daysee, Estarylla, Heather, Falmina, Lessina, Sharobel, Vestura, Zovia, Aubra, Ashlyna, Dasetta, Liletta, Marlissa, Syeda, Velivet, Alyacen, Aranelle, Briellyn, Cesia, Nikki, Myzilra, Solia, Taytulla, Vienva, Wera, Aurovela, Ayuna, Delyla, Hailey, Kalliga, Larissia, Leena

My verdict: any female name is vulnerable to being appropriated as a birth control name eventually. Don't worry about it.

(Also, I'm tempted to populate my next fantasy novel with women named after birth control. Just sayin'). 

February 13, 2018 4:53 PM

Please do write that fantasy novel -- I would totaly buy this as a culture with very consistent naming patterns and a lot of world-building that had gone into the namescape, since all of the pharmaceutical names have been very carefully curated to meet the same standards.

It's interesting to me that a lot of the erectile disfunction drugs have much more of a female-name endings (Viagra, Levitra, Stendra). Only Cialis and Staxyn would even work as Fantasy Male Tribe equivalents to the birth control names.

February 13, 2018 5:22 PM

I for one would be up for a duel to the death between Orsythia and Balziva! What a strange collection of names and almost-names...

By EVie
February 14, 2018 4:14 PM

"Princess Orsythia obtains magical contraception from the sorceress Balziva so she can pursue her clandestine romance with the Duke of Beyaz without compromising her claim to the throne. Unbeknownst to her, the magical pill she has taken is not contraception at all. Now she is carrying a half-human, half-dragon changeling that has the power to destroy her, her family and possibly the entire kingdom. She must seek out the help of the three wise women of the mountains, Vestura, Aurovela and Amethia, accompanied by her friends, the famed swordswoman Mirena and the sorceress-in-training Aranelle. Will she find the wise women and defeat the sorceress before the dragon changeling rips its way out of her womb and wreaks havoc on the realm?"

(SPOILER: it was the Duke that hired the sorceress to give her fake birth control in an attempt to overthrow her father the King and seize the throne!)

February 14, 2018 6:05 PM

This is amazing. How could the Duke do her wrong like that? I bet that Vestura, Aurovela and Amethia have got this, though! Mirena is totally the plucky sidekick. 

Thank you for the good laugh. You have a gift; I fervently hope you will share with us your actual novel when it gets published.

By EVie
February 15, 2018 12:05 PM

Haha, thanks! I find coming up with story premises and opening action the easy and fun part. The middle is what I find really challenging (so they set out on their quest... and then what?)

February 16, 2018 1:13 PM

I love this so much. I don't think I mentioned in the other thread, but I'm so impressed by the authors on this board!

If you don't want to write the middle of the story, maybe we could make it Name Game. Remember that game where someone starts a story, and then each person adds to it, leaving off at some suspenseful moment? Like that, but all the names have to be drug brand names :).

February 15, 2018 6:19 AM

You had me at half-dragon changeling!

By mk
February 13, 2018 2:03 PM

Not a big deal at all, and I am familiar with most brands of the pill. I would expect someone who specializes in pregnancy/women's health to be more aware of this as well. General public won't notice, or won't care.

February 13, 2018 2:40 PM

The name nedibles posted is a good guess. I also wondered about lyr!ca. 

Have you looked online to see if there are any TV ads for the brand?  I think that would significantly boost the chances of the general public making the connection.  I know about Lyr!ca & nedibles' guess from TV ads.  If there aren't any ads, it seems like it might be less of an issue.

This also seems like a good name for the Starbucks challenge.  Use the name as your own in places where it doesn't matter and see what kind of reaction you get.  If you get a ton of comments and/or weird looks, it might be a clue that the name is too strongly associated with the brith control brand.

February 13, 2018 5:23 PM

The Starbucks challenge is a good idea. Coffee shops don't take names here, so I may have to use this as an excuse to go out for dinner frequently....

February 13, 2018 4:47 PM

I would tread carefully. I have never had occasion to be on hormonal birth control, nor do I have a TV, but I'm still very familiar with all the brand names from print advertisements and radio spots and internet ads. I was pleased that Yasmin(e) was my middle name and not my first name due to its also being a birth control brand, even though I think it hit the market when I was 20 and thus out of my teens. That certainly put the kibosh on my ever wanting to use it as a call name, and also made it much easier for me to bid my middle name farewell when I changed my name upon marriage.

Even names that have been people names first, like Allegra, can very thoroughly get repackaged as a drug by a persistent marketing campaign, and I think it's worse when it's a drug that is likely to be embarrassing to a young girl, like an IUD or a brand of oral contraceptive pills.

I'm not saying you can't do it, just saying your midwife is not likely to be the only person to have that association.


February 13, 2018 5:26 PM

Great points to keep in mind. I do think the US has somewhat more aggressive drug-marketing than other countries, but I'm going to see what I can find out from people with TVs.

February 14, 2018 6:15 PM

The US for sure has much more blatant direct-to-consumer marketing of pharmaceutical products, so I can see how the situation would be very different in another country!

FWIW, the particular brand you're considering isn't one that I've heard of, because it's not on the market here. (The same ingredient is on the market as Estinyl, though, which is less namey.)

February 13, 2018 5:19 PM

Thanks for the responses everyone. The drug in question is called S!billa, which based on your feedback isn't around in North America. Thanks for the suggestion to look up videos, NAGA. I found various (not seemingly for TV) in Spanish, French and Italian and questions in UK forums. I think it's only been available in Spain a few years.

I did try the name out on a young woman today and she didn't say anything about pills, though had absolutely never heard of the name before and asked me where it came from., which possibly disturbs me more than the pill thing. I wouldn't expect anyone to know the origin or mythology but I'm surprised she flat-out had never heard it...maybe it's just much more present in the English psyche from pop culture references.

February 13, 2018 5:50 PM

RIGHT! *THAT'S* the name you're considering! Yeah, no, that's not a brand name here.

And don't let the ignorance of a young woman turn you off. I've been shocked at the number of people who have asked me if I made up my daughter's name. Mostly older men, but not exclusively. I throw out the three most common associations (King Lear? Anne of Green Gables? Buffy the Vampire Slayer?) and just laugh. Everyone has cultural blind spots.

By mk
February 13, 2018 6:32 PM

That is not available in the U.S. Also, the U.S. is one of only 3-4 countries that actually allow companies to market prescription meds to the general public, such as in TV and magazine ads.

February 15, 2018 12:50 AM

I googled the name and the birth control wasn't even the first hit!  And it adopted a woman's name, NOT the other way around.  My gut sense is that this is not a problem, but this is YOUR comfort zone!  I think there are two separate questions:

1. Will you / your partner be embarrassed by the association?  That's up to you to decide.

2. Will your daughter?  On this point, brand names change all the time and it's likely that this product won't be marketed as such by the time your daughter is old enough to be aware of any association.  While the opposite scenario is a possibility (i.e., that it becomes a global product) -- that is unlikely.  Also, you are spelling her name differently which will diffuse some things.

I am going to bring up a comparison scenario.  I happen to be a total brand-loyalist to Chantelle bras, because they perfectly fit my hard-to-fit size/shape very comfortably.  They are super-duper expensive, but I know my size and can buy them in batches at 30% retail price from wholesalers on ebay.  However, most people do not wear these bras every day because they are expensive and usually only in upscale shops. If I met a Chantelle, I would certainly remember her name ("oh like my bras") but I would not be fussed, because I also know that Chantelle is first and foremost a name not a lingerie company.  Sort of like Victoria!  So back to the question: are YOU embarrassed by this scenario?



February 15, 2018 6:18 AM

Your questions are spot on. My conclusion is that my partner and I probably don't care for ourselves (teenage years being a bit of a distant memory) but I would worry it might embarrass my daughter -- at certain ages. I think Lucubratrix's experience with Yasmine is interesting... although I do know a few Yasmine/Yassamans... perhaps I should ask them if this ever was an issue for them. It's true that the drug in question isn't so hugely successful though (even I had heard of Yasmine).

I don't tend to share names with friends and family much but I think I'll go around trying it out on as many randoms as I can, and see what kind of reactions I get.

By EVie
February 15, 2018 12:03 PM

I should add that Yasmine was the birth control I took for over a decade, and even with that strong familiarity, I think of it as a name first that happened to be borrowed for a pill. I wouldn't discourage anyone from using it if it was the name they loved and it was meaningful to them. (And I've always said the same thing about Allegra, too). 

February 15, 2018 5:01 PM

I totally agree that Yasmin and Allegra should still be usable names... just that at a certain point in my life it didn't quite meet the 'would I want it to be my name' test in practice. I agree that it's a very age-correlated thing. Can you put out a social media poll about whether people in your area/circles have even heard of the BC pill?

cm2530's Chantelle comments are bang on. I definitely think of the bras when meeting a Chantelle, too, though I'm less of a brand loyalist (at one point I exceeded their size range, and for the past decade I've been maintaining a weight loss which leaves me able to shop all the cheaper brands too). I think the lingerie is a very comparable thing, embarassment wise, to birth control.

Relatedly, I was just at a baby shower, and I (obviously) asked about names, and they delightedly shared they were expecting baby Freya and as we were all oohing about the great name, someone sitting next to me piped up, "LIKE THE BRAS! I LOVE THEM!" And indeed, as I did a google image search for Freya so I could find a sketch on which to model my onesie art (I wasn't sure I could do a cat-drawn chariot from imagination), the bras did show up along with the goddess. I don't think that makes it a bad name choice at all - I LOVE the name Freya and think it is 100% still usable -- but I think that drugs are often marketed more aggressively than lingerie, at least in the US.