Baby name campaign exposed as hoax

Why do parents give their babies such strange names?

EARLY in March the host of a TV talk show announced a new website named Belly Ballot had sprung up where a pregnant mother could sign up, pick five favourite names for her baby, and invite friends and family to vote to help the mother-to-be select a name.

My first thought was, “How irresponsible and lazy have parents become? They can’t even choose a name for their offspring without the backup of friends, like brides-to-be who take along a mob of girlfriends to help them find a gown for their big day because they lack the confidence to choose by themselves?”

Based on the website, one participating mother-to-be would be awarded a $5,000 prize.

Why couldn’t mothers do as they have always done – talk to immediate family, scan some baby name books for suggestions, then decide for themselves?

Still, with some of the odd names celebrity parents especially choose for their offspring a website contest might result in a more sensible choice, a name less likely to attract ridicule and bullying on the school playground.

You have to wonder why some parents go so far out of their way to find such unusual, ridiculous, goofy names.

Like the Glendale, Arizona couple who spelled heaven backward to christen their child Neveah. Or actress Gwyneth Paltrow who named her first daughter Apple; David Bowie calling his son Zowie; others choosing Pilot Inspektor; Speck Wildhorse; Banjo; Audio Science; Kyd; or Reignbeau. Such affectation! If it had to be a weather phenomenon, could it not have been spelled Rainbow?

Singer Alicia Keyes, following a memorable trip to northern Africa, named her child Egypt. Thank heaven Keyes hadn’t toured Zambia or fjords.

Author Nora Ephron, well known as the screenwriter of such divorce-laden movies as “When Harry Met Alice”, “Sleepless in Seattle”, and “Heartburn”, “was named after Nora Helmer, the character who famously walks out on a stifling marriage in Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll House”, divulges Nora’s sister Hallie Ephron writing in the March 2013 issue of O Magazine. I’m trusting Hallie’s information here. No Ibsen book has ever taken up space on my coffee table.

Fifty years ago babies were given names to honour a favourite grandparent, aunt or uncle and gain favouritism when it came time to read their will. That tradition recycled sensible names like John or Charles for boys, Elizabeth or Mary for girls.

Now birth announcements list names that appear to have been crafted from leftover Scrabble letters that defied being jostled into any semblance of a sanctioned word .

A few people have succeeded in life carrying a name that came about from errors made when their birth certificate was being filled out. That’s how Winfrey became Oprah. Her mother wanted her to have the biblical name, Orpah, from the book of Ruth.

And for years Elvis Presley got along as Elvis Aron Presley. Supposedly his parents used the last four letters of his twin brother’s name, Garon, who died at birth. In his 40s, Elvis had his legal documents corrected to Aaron, spelled with two a’s, to coincide with his certified birth certificate. The Biblical spelling with two a’s appears on Elvis’ tombstone.

By the end of last week Belly Ballot owned up to a hoax. The “mother” in the website’s ad was a hired model from Texas who isn’t even pregnant, and there was never any $5,000 prize. That was simply a come-on to entice participants to the site.

Though the website claimed 80 mothers signed up, finally the website admitted not a single pregnant mother applied to enter the contest. Which does a lot to restore my faith in the sound thinking of most mothers-to-be.


Terrace Standard

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