The thing about Those White People Baby Names is the way they so poetically express the tension between individuality and rigid conformity. These parents all want to name their child something unique, because they value the concept of uniqueness, yet simultaneously they abhor it in practice… ergo, 30 different spelling variations on the most normative possible names. This homogeneity-masquerading-as-diversity is inseparable from capitalist consumer culture and in fact is directly analogous to the experience of walking into a grocery store and being asked to “choose” between 50 varieties of toothpaste with the same exact ingredients, 12 brands of laundry detergent, etc.
Somebody’s third eye is WIDE the fuck open??!!!!!!!
okay so there’s actually a reason behind this that isn’t just “white people are terrible and really really boring!” it’s to do with Mormon culture. specifically: the fireworks you get when sexist expectations and terrible petty drama collide.
most of Those White People Baby Names are originally Mormon baby names. they’re chosen (or invented) by women in Utah; they tend to filter out to the rest of the world through things like “mommy blogs” and “baby name books” and “parent forums.”
you know how every culture has a “hey, welcome to the world, lil baby!” ritual? the mormon version of that is called a baby blessing. the baby’s father, and a handful of other men in the family, go up in front of the congregation during a Sunday service and say a special prayer. it begins by reciting the baby’s full name and then saying “I give you a name and a blessing.”
It’s not something you can avoid doing- if you try, people will think that you’re trying to hide something. baby blessings are mandatory, and everyone in the congregation will watch and judge you.
because of this, your baby’s name gets a good bit more of a spotlight in Mormon culture than it does in secular culture, and that’s saying something.
Mormon women start picking out names for their hypothetical future kids in fourth or fifth grade and snipe at each other for picking “weird” or “bad” ones. it’s something that’s supposed to be in the back of your head long before you have a kid. and because people will judge you if you pick a name that’s “too boring” or “too weird”, it is already an intricate dance of finding something that’s “interesting” enough to pass muster but not so “interesting” your kid won’t survive kindergarten.
and that dance becomes even more intricate when Baby Name Drama gets involved.
see, because you’re supposed to put so much time into your baby’s name, a lot of women get… overinvested, let us say. the perfect name they picked for their baby is THEIR baby’s name and NO ONE ELSE’S. if you so much as dare to BREATHE that you’re naming your baby/pet/favourite laptop the same thing, you have STOLEN their BABY’S NAME.
so here’s the thing… say you really wanted to name your daughter Amy. You love the name, it’s classic, it’s cute, it’s perfect for your little girl-to-be… and then your sister-in-law gets pregnant and LOUDLY ANNOUNCES that she’s naming her baby Amy! and you know for a fact that she’s the type of person to throw a massive petty shitfit over you STEALING her BABY’S NAME. your family will take sides. her family will take sides.
if you want to avoid the drama, and you’re dead-set on naming your daughter-to-be Amy… well, then you name your daughter Aimee, or Aimi, or Aimy. It’s not the same name, it’s pronounced the same but it’s not the exact same name, so you can shut up, sis-in-law.
from what I understand a lot of the Crazy Name Spellings came from this root- “it’s not Kaylee, it’s Kayleigh, I swear I didn’t steal your idea”- and then once it became a trend, people named their kids that to be ~trendy~ just like they did with every other stupid trend.
but the root cause of Terrible Trendy Misspelt Baby Names has very little to do with white people being boring and conformist, and certainly nothing to do with capitalism. it’s a good old fashioned case of a) sexist expectations warping women’s behaviour into really really stupid shapes and b) Petty Small Community Drama.
This is a terrific addition to this post that I don’t think actually contradicts my main idea all that much