A Baby Name Style Brought to Life: The Faces of Andro-Girly names

Apr 4th 2013


Check out this outstanding collection of  "Andro-Girly" female names:

Bayley
Carsen
Chaley
Kelsie
Kenli
Mayson
Remi
Rylee

If you're not familiar with this name style, the recipe starts with a masculine/androgynous name, typically a surname. Baby namers then play with the spelling to produce something brightly girlish.

I first described the fast-rising style last fall. It's a highly regionalized name trend, one of several I identified for the new regional naming maps in the upcoming edition of The Baby Name Wizard. (Available May 7. Yay!) If you live in a state like Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee or North Dakota, you might recognize red-hot names like Brynlee, Kynlee, Paityn, Brooklynn and Ryleigh from your state's top-100 names list. If you live in a state like Connecticut, Pennsylvania, California or Vermont, you might say, "Seriously??"

Which brings us to the name list above. In keeping with the regional trend, those names come to us straight from the rodeo. They're names of young cowgirls captured in photographer Ilona Szwarc's pictorial on girls in competitive rodeo, featured in last weekend's New York Times Magazine.

For those of who already know and love Andro-Girly names, the cowgirl pictorial should be an enjoyable celebration of the style and the bold girls it represents. But for those of you who can't fathom the appeal of names like Kynlee and Paityn, this could a rare opportunity.

I often say that a baby name choice represents parents' values, hopes and dreams. Well, here's a chance to walk in someone else's dreams.

Page through the photos of Kenli, Mayson, Chaley and friends. Or for a shorthand version, just click to photo #11 and contemplate six-year-old Konnar with her elaborately tooled saddle, classic ridgetop hat, and fair hair streaming over a western shirt festooned with bright flowers. You still may or may not like the Andro-Girly names, but I'll bet that now you get them.

Comments

1
By EM2N
April 4, 2013 2:38 PM

If you name your cowgirls Mayson, Cooper, Konnar, Carsen, Maddox, Rylee, and Remi... I wonder what you name your cowboys?  Does the hyper-masculine trend (Gunner, Axle, Colt) correlate with these same states?  I also just have to wonder if some of the boy names we currently think of hyper masculine will be given to girls in 10 years.  I also wonder if the map in last fall's article should now include Texas! 

3
April 5, 2013 9:29 AM

Awhile back I went and calculated the "gender ratio" of several unisex names popular at various points in time in various states; the general trend I've noticed is that although a lot of the states Wattenberg mentions in this post have a reputation for using traditionally masculine names on girls, people in those same regions are also more apt to continue using such names on boys despite also using them for girls. The region most phobic to unisex names for boys is the Northeast (you'll also notice a greater deal of "conformity" with boy's names there compared to the rest of the country, where many "traditional" names that have dropped quite a bit elsewhere are still near the top of the charts). For example, in my home state (one of the ones where the "andro-girly" style is now prevalent) male Kellys (I'm one) are not uncommon, while where Wattenberg lives they are quite rare (with Kelly being one of the classic "Irish-American" names you'd expect more male Kellys there, but the numbers indicate otherwise). West coast states like California (which you'd expect to be the most sexually liberal) come out pretty much neutral in this regard. (If you want to see some actual numbers I have a spreadsheet I prepared a year or two ago with numbers from the SSA's extended state-by-state list.)

4
April 5, 2013 10:12 AM

KellyXY is spot on -- the "liberal" Northeast is America's most conservative naming region, especially the more urbanized, educated and affluent states. (I live near Boston, and my kids have never had a single classmate with an "Andro-Girly" name. In fact, their class lists often look like a snapshot of a time gone by.)

More on the liberal/conservative naming enigma: http://www.babynamewizard.com/archives/2009/1/red-and-blue-baby-naming-inauguration-2009-edition

5
April 5, 2013 5:27 PM

Taking an androgynous name and changing y to ee or i doesn't magically  make the name feminine, but it does make it appropriate for a career dancing around a pole.

6
April 5, 2013 8:27 PM

You know, I'm generally not a fan of the style, but I have a sister called Kelsi (different spelling) who is a 30 something attorney.

Most of us wouldn't blink an eye at girls called Morgan, Kelly, or Lindsay these days in any number of professions.

I will say that many of these names seem not just spunky and masculine but also clearly designed to be creative.

KellyXY's post really made me think, though! I tend to have a snobbish attitude towards boyish names on girls, but maybe moms who would use a name on either gender should really be looking down on me and my old-fashioned gender sterotypes. Thought provoking! Not saying I'd name a girl Konnar....but thought provoking!

7
April 6, 2013 10:32 AM

"Maybe moms who would use a name on either gender should really be looking down on me and my old-fashioned gender sterotypes" -- yeah, maybe, but only if they're equally willing to name a son Meredith, Kelly, or Evelyn as they are to name a daughter Remi or Mayson. I don't think most such namers would be willing to reverse a trend like that, so I don't think they're following gender stereotypes any less than me -- they're just following "new-fashioned" gender stereotypes instead of my old-fashioned ones.

8
April 8, 2013 1:39 PM

Wow, really interesting article/post.  You can't make this stuff up, folks.  As for the pole-dancing, I'm not sure which set of names would best fit there. It kind of seems like anything goes nowadays, but that is an interesting suggestion and one that my wife and i talk about.  Setting up a kid for certain career choices by picking a name, or spelling of a name. How many future CEOs are going to be named Tyfphanni, for example... There seems to be a clearer view of "dancer" names from my generation (the age of jennifer), or at least most people i know would probably agree. And at the risk of offending people I'll let them make up their minds as to whether Allison, Melissa, or Candi would be the most likely to "work late".  But I wonder about now, or the future? 

9
April 8, 2013 8:43 PM

The polar of opposite of  stripper names so-called (and see the hilarious take on those names from the foul-mouthed teddy bear in the movie Ted), I knew several women named Rosary, and they were all, um, devout. I rather wondered if they would have headed straight for the convent, if their names had been, say, Amber or Heather.

10
April 9, 2013 1:00 PM

I have a grandsons named Aidan and Maddox and their sister is named Melina Kelsey.  We all live in TX, so I guess it's just a matter of preference not residence.

11
April 10, 2013 2:46 PM

I'm from MN & these names are very popular here, too. If you go on the hospital nursery websites you'll find lots of female names like; Kenley, Tenley, Kinsley, Kinley

And just recently I've seen a lot of females with; Oakleigh/Oakley, Bentley/Bentleigh, Logan

I like the idea of the new "neutral style" names, but even Bentley & Logan for girls is pushing it to me. :P

12
April 11, 2013 11:29 AM

Last night at the embroidery shop, I took a new name for a baby blanket:  Graycyn Merle.  I immediately thought of this post. 

13
April 13, 2013 11:07 PM

Naming really is the last bastion of class snobbery, isn't it?  These names give me the fantods.

14
April 14, 2013 5:47 PM

As I was looking through, I thought Lariat was a pretty classy and intriguing choice: not for me, I like it for a cowgirl! Perhaps a bit close to Larry, but very pretty in itself.

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