OPINION – Here’s why we should celebrate unusual baby names

When my husband and I were choosing baby names, there were so many that I loved containing the ‘s’ sound. Names like Sawyer, Scarlett and Mason.

But when it came to making a final decision, I didn’t entertain any of those because I have a slight lisp — I was afraid I’d struggle to say them properly. Without my lisp, perhaps my daughter would have been a Sloane and my son called Boston. 

They wouldn’t have been named Onyx, like Iggy Azlea’s son. And certainly not Pilot Inspektor, like the son of American actors Jason Lee and Beth Riesgraf.

Not because those names contained ‘s’ sounds. And not because those names were somewhat … peculiar. I wouldn’t have chosen Onyx or Pilot Inspektor because those names didn’t resonate with me.

But I think parents choosing unusual names is fantastic. I applaud them. I think we should be yelling their children’s names from the tops of the monkey bars.

Because a name has the potential to change who that child becomes …

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

This well-known quote from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet implies that a person’s name doesn’t impact or change who they are.

But is this true?

While plenty of factors shape the person we become — such as genetics, how we’re parented, who we choose to spend our free time with, our level of education — some studies show our name can have an impact on how people perceive us and how we perceive ourselves.

For example, one BBC article cites a number of studies showing that having an unusual name can influence your personality and job choices. It said an unusual name may increase your odds of having an unusual career, such as a film director or judge. It discussed another study which showed the rarer the name of the person, the more open-minded in business they tended to be.

In this article from Yahoo Parenting, a professor from New York University explained how unusual names were a self-fulfilling prophecy — that is, those with creative names often developed more creative habits.

“When you think of yourself as different, you might in turn think or behave differently.” – Adam Alter, Professor of Psychology and Marketing, New York University.

Business publication Quartz published an article about a study whereby the researchers demonstrated a link between a person’s name and the shape of their face … or in other words, name stereotypes manifested in physical appearance.

In practical terms, this means a stranger could look at a child’s face and say, “Well, he looks just like every other Ben I know.” Unique baby names help to combat these stereotypes.

Of course, for every article that touts the benefits of unique baby names, there are just as many describing the negative aspects. A New York Post article gives examples of poor connotations associated with oddly-spelt or aspirational baby names (sometimes called ‘bogan’ baby names in Australia).

No matter whether you choose an unusual baby name or a more common one, it’s unlikely everybody is going to love it as much as you do. As a parent you should choose a name that feels right … whatever that may be.

But for every North, Apple, Blue, Cricket, Kulture and Slash that are named, there will be many more Charlottes and Williams.

In a world that lives largely online, an unusual name may be a ready-made brand and promote a strong sense of identity. It can promote creativity within the child. It might help develop the child’s career. It will certainly help them stand out.

Will the world ever run out of new names? Probably not.

Should we celebrate unique baby names? I think so.

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