Julia Roberts gets the Gwyneth treatment
A few months back, I wrote about the flood of criticism that was aimed at Gwyneth Paltrow for naming her daughter Apple. Well now Gwyneth can rest easy, the pressure's off. All those bad vibes have been redirected toward Julia Roberts and her new twins, Hazel Patricia and Phinneaus Walter.
Newspaper columnists around the country have written snickering pieces on these "weird" names, dragging out examples like 30-somethings Moon and Dweezil Zappa as further proof that the rich and famous have no common sense. But hold on a minute...Hazel is no Dweezil. Let's take a look at the names have set off all this eye-rolling.
Hazel is a botanical name that was extremely popular from the 1870s through the 1920s, outpacing such familiar flower names as Lily and Daisy. It also showcases the red-hot letter Z. Phinneaus is a biblical classic, extremely unusual today but a natural up-and-comer -- other Grecian biblical names like Elias and Silas are rising hits, as are sound-alikes Finn and Finley. Do these names really deserve to be labelled "whacko" by the Boston Herald?
Partly, this is simple schadenfreude. There's an undeniable delight in watching the missteps of the privileged. But I believe there's also an element of culture clash at work. If you're shocked and horrified by a name like Hazel, chances are that you don't travel in the same circles as Julia Roberts. (Not that she comes to my birthday parties, either.)
For the record, here's what the upcoming Baby Name Wizard book has to say about Hazel:
In most places, the idea of naming a little girl Hazel is still unthinkable. But this name is ultra-fashionable in certain circles and it could get hotter. The handful of parents who love Hazel today are the same cutting-edge tastemakers who led names like Ruby and Lillian back from the desert in the '90s.Yes, for the past several years, Hazel has been a stylish favorite in the elite urban neighborhoods where artistic sensibilities and high incomes meet. Ironically, Hazel's new celebrity status may well turn off those trendsetters, even as it introduces the name to a new audience.
And a final note to the Herald writer, who ended her column with this observation:
Well, at least Julia won't have to worry about her children's middle names becoming hackneyed. If there's one good thing about Walter and Patricia, it's this: They're safe.Ah, not so fast. Walter and Patricia are endangered species, less common than names like Jaxon and Heaven and fading fast. In a few more years, Hazel and Phin may prove to be "safer" than Patty and Wally.