I like to think of myself as somewhat of a naming expert. That’s because I was able to pick two names for my girls weird enough so that very few people choose to use them, but not too weird where everyone thinks I’m a monster for giving my children such outlandish names. Others would disagree, of course.

“Mazzy? That’s a nickname, right?”

“No, it’s not.”

“Oh. Why would you name an adorable baby such a strange name?”

That was an actual conversation I had with a woman in an airport when Mazzy was about three months old. A total stranger thought it was okay to criticize my name choice.


There are few things that generate as much outrage as poorly named children. Great Aunts, in-laws, next-door neighbors, random Facebook acquaintances you never should have friended in the first place all think it’s perfectly okay to publicly mock, criticize and be a general ass about a parent’s choice of name for their new baby.

I can’t even imagine what it’s like for celebrities, when everyone on earth is waiting to hear about their big mistake.

NORTH WEST???? Are they serious?

MAXWELL DREW? Isn’t it a girl?

BEAR BLAZE??? Did Kate Winslet think she was naming a dog?

BODHI RANSOM??? Did Megan Fox give birth to a movie character from the early nineties?

SUMMER RAIN??? Did Christina Aguilera name a child or a new deodorant scent?

ESMERALDA AMADA??? Are Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes trying to create the next Disney villain?

You know what? Those are all fine names and people should leave poor Megan Fox alone (currently sitting at the top of BabyCenter’s Worst Celebrity Names of 2014). Megan has to deal with people mocking her for marrying David Silver the rest of her life. ISN’T THAT ENOUGH?

Maybe Kim Kardashian saw how Mason and Penelope became the country’s most popular names just by virtue of Kourtney picking them for her kids and wanted to choose something odd so it would stay original. I can’t fault her for that.

The whole reason I named my second child Harlow instead of Harper is because I saw Harper’s popularity rising too dramatically for my taste. In fact, the first thing I checked when BabyCenter came out with their Most Popular Baby Names in 2014 was that Harlow did not make the list.

She did not. PHEW.

I like weird names. I don’t care if they are made up or better suited to pets or common words for fruits and vegetables. I’m not a huge fan of Apple but I have always loved Plum. If not for a first name, than a middle name.

Harlow Plum Wiles. HOW CUTE IS THAT? Mike was not on board.

To me, it seems there are two trends going on at once. There are the people who want to name their kids something original and there are the people who think naming your kid something original is an exercise in narcissism and a huge disservice to your child.

William (as in the future King of England)— now that’s a solid name, they say.

Briar Rose (new daughter of Rachel Bilson and Hayden Christensen)— old fashioned and beautiful.

Charlie— everybody’s friend!

Wait. Charlie is a girl? Is it short for Charlotte?


Oh, forget it then.

Wouldn’t life be boring if everyone picked a solid well-known moniker? My husband’s name is Michael. Every one of his college friends is also named Michael. I don’t know if the Mikes gravitated together intentionally or not, but that’s what we call them— THE MIKES. We can’t even refer to any of them by name and know who we are talking about.

Now that Mike is out of college, you know who he has to contend with? My brother-in-law. Also named Mike. We call him Mikey to differentiate. Mikey hates it.

Of course, some celebrities take the need for an original baby name too far and chose monikers with the intention of being mocked. I mean, how else do you explain Moxie Crimefighter (daughter of Penn Teller), Audio Science (son of Shannyn Sossamon), and Pilot Inspecktor (son of Jason Lee)? Is it really fair to determine these kids’ lots in life when they are just born? What if Pilot Inspecktor wants to become a librarian? Or Moxie Crimefighter lives her life as a couch potato? What if Tu Morrow (daughter of Jason Morrow) wants to live her life in the present tense?! WHAT THEN?

Not to mention, poor poor kid, I mean Kyd (son of Tea Leoni and David Duchovney).

I get it. It’s fun to make fun of celebrity names, but let’s not pretend any of us are any better at this process than anybody else. You have to get your spouse to agree with your choice for one. That is no easy task.

Just for fun, I tried the Celebrity Baby Name Generator to see how I would have named my baby if I wanted her to land the cover of People magazine.

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Not bad. I can dig it. Let’s see what happens if I plug in my husband’s information…

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Ugh. It’s a good thing we don’t make millions in Hollywood. This might be grounds for divorce.

In all seriousness, I commend odd choices. I gave my kids weird(ish) names and I come from a long line of weird(ish) names. Ilana was much less common when I was growing up than it is today. My sister’s name is Myriah and this was way before Mariah Carey’s rise to fame. My mom is Adela, pre-Adele. My late grandmother was Minna (nickname Minnie), about ten years before Minnie Mouse.

When I was ten, having an original name was not considered trendy. I wanted a name I could find on one of those rainbow stickers or a big pencil at the airport. But I grew into my name and learned to love it. My name is one of the things that always makes me feel a little bit more interesting. It requires an explanation. I was named after my grandfather Irving— there are not a lot of I-names, you know.

I would like everyone to go on naming their kids original things. Screw the people that think “made-up” names are stupid. Someone was named Sam at one point and it was the first Sam. Maybe Sam was the son of a well-known cobbler, the most famous cobbler in the whole town and everybody thought— who does this cobbler think he is, naming a child SAM??? You can’t just invent names out of thin air!

I say embrace the odd name, even the Pilot Inspecktors and the Diva Muffins (daughter of Frank Zappa). They add some much needed variety.

Look at Sophia. Twenty-five years ago Sophia was best known as the eldest Golden Girl and now, here she is— the most popular baby name of 2014.

I can’t wait for Mazzy to meet THE SOPHIAS in college.

For the next few weeks, I am partnering with BabyCenter to offer a baby naming service on the Mommy Shorts facebook page. If you are pregnant and need a girl’s name that starts with a “B” or a boy’s name that works with the last name Weiner or you just want to find one name ANY NAME you and your spouse can agree on, give me the details of your naming conundrum. I’ll pick a few of my favorites and crowd source name suggestions. We’ll use BabyCenter’s Most Popular Names of 2014, Baby Names 2014: Winners and Losers and Quirky & Unusual Names for reference. Or, you can also check out the hottest naming trends for 2015.

Uh-oh. Looks like Harlow is on the rise.