Thanks for nothing, Disney.
October 19, 2012 8:41 AM   Subscribe

We are about to have a baby. The name we are favoring turns out to be the same as the next Disney princess. What should a good feminist mom do?

We have a baby girl due on December 4th and for a long time we have been kicking around the name Sofia. I know it's popular, but it isn't so much in our area and we just really like the sound of it. My husband is also very picky about names and this is the one name he's fallen in love with.

I'm the kind of mom who, when she received a bunch of hand-me-down clothes, went through and weeded out anything with princesses, crowns or ballet slippers on it. The nursery will be bright colors with a minimum of pink. Walking down the girls' toy aisle at ToysRUs makes me nauseated.

So you can kind of imagine how I felt when I saw this:
Disney set to unveil first Latina princess, Sofia

I'm wondering - will I very much regret naming my daughter Sofia if this new princess becomes the new hot thing? Will she become the new hot thing? Will girls everywhere be obsessed with Sofia? What kind of consequences could my daughter face? Will it make it that much harder to raise a girl who aspires to be a doctor or writer or politician and not a princess?

I understand that I cannot control my daughter and her desires, but I want to give her a fair shot without burdening her with the name of a Disney princess. Your advice would be appreciated! Thank you!
posted by bristolcat to Society & Culture (62 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I come from a culture where "Sofia" (or, well, "Sofiya") is a name about as common as "Susan" is in America. It's a nice and very old name that will be around far, far longer than anyone will remember a Disney Channel movie.
posted by griphus at 8:45 AM on October 19, 2012 [19 favorites]

You name her Sofia anyway! I should hope Disney cannot claim ownership of a name that has been used for millennia! It's a beautiful name, by the way.

Moreover, many Disney princesses are low profile and it's likely than in a couple of years your daughter's friends will be watching some other princess with a different name.
posted by Tarumba at 8:45 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm wondering - will I very much regret naming my daughter Sofia if this new princess becomes the new hot thing? Will she become the new hot thing? Will girls everywhere be obsessed with Sofia? What kind of consequences could my daughter face? Will it make it that much harder to raise a girl who aspires to be a doctor or writer or politician and not a princess?

This isn't even going to be a movie- it's a TV show on the Disney channel. I don't think the cultural impact will be that big. (Also: can you name the princess from Princess and the Frog? Because I sure couldn't. Disney ain't what it used to be.)
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:46 AM on October 19, 2012 [9 favorites]

I think the truly feminist thing to do would be to choose the name you like and not let DisneyCorp sway your decision either way. Trust yourselves to raise a daughter whose personality would outmatch that of any coincidentally named fictional character.
posted by Think_Long at 8:46 AM on October 19, 2012 [35 favorites]

Sofia is a timeless name shared by many. You probably already know that it means "wisdom" in Greek.

And, honestly, who remembers the real names of the Disney princesses? Cinderella, Ariel, and Jasmine come to mind. The others, even 5 years on, I couldn't tell you.
posted by deanc at 8:46 AM on October 19, 2012

I want to say that Sofia is a magnificent name - a name fit for a classical musician, an Eastern European mathematician, or a famous beauty.

But Jasmine, in its very different way, is also a fine name fit for many things - none of which anyone will think of now due to the marketing juggernaut of Disney - so I'm afraid you may be SOL.
posted by Egg Shen at 8:47 AM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

How much do you like your second choice? I think I would switch if I had something else that worked. I don't think it's huge, but it just might not be worth it and if it were me, the princess thing would sour me on the name a little, and I'd keep worrying about it.

I doubt it will affect her in the long run, it's unlikely to become an "unserious" name, and it will probably be forgotten by the time she's 10. What I would really worry about is when she's two or three, and every second well-meaning grown-up who wants to connect says "Oh? Just like the princess! You are a pretty little princess!" It's hard to shut down that kind of friendliness, and I think you'll have constant redirecting to do if that's what people think about first when they learn her name.
posted by crabintheocean at 8:49 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I know two Ariels (one even has red hair), and it's totally not an issue at all that they have a name used by Disney. I'd say go for it.
posted by insectosaurus at 8:50 AM on October 19, 2012

Names are heard first, then spelled. "Sophia" is a very trendy name right now - it's one of the most popular ones out there and it has been for a while. It's also considered a classic, timeless name and I think that transcends any other associations it might have in pop culture or its current trendiness.

People are already hearing it all over the place so I don't think they're going to automatically associate it specifically with a Disney princess "Sofia". I think you're fine!
posted by flex at 8:52 AM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Tiana is the one from Princess and the Frog. (Mom of a kindergartener... a boy, but somehow I still have learned these things.)

I know SO MANY little Sofias, Sophias, and Sophies -- I think literally 50% of the girl babies in my larger circle have had some variation of this name -- that I doubt your child will have any particular consequences from having this name. I think if your child had an unusual name, AND the princess did too, AND the princess turned out to be particularly popular, then people might hear her name and think of Disney. Otherwise, I wouldn't sweat it.

The one thing is that there will be a lot of products with her name on them. Who knows if the products will still be around when she's old enough to care, but you might have a lot of whining when it comes to the toy aisle. Small price to pay for a name you love.
posted by chickenmagazine at 8:53 AM on October 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

All variations of "Sophia" are very, very common right now. It's not just somewhat common, it's staggeringly common. "Sophia" itself was the second most common name given to American girls in 2010. "Sofia" was number 26. That's probably a big reason why the Disney princess got this name.

If you like the name, give it to your daughter and don't worry about his princess crap. Think of how many other Sophias and Sofias are out there. There are too many that this is likely to become an name iconically associated with a Disney princess.

I have known plenty of people named Jasmine, Ariel, and Tiana, and their lives are fine.
posted by Coatlicue at 8:53 AM on October 19, 2012 [9 favorites]

With the exception of Ariel, which is actually originally a man's name, I can't see that Disney's use of a name has made all that much of a difference. I think Disney is going with "Sophia" right now because it's popular, not the other way around.
posted by valkyryn at 8:54 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm a parent of a young kid that has a fascination with names.

First, Sofia/Sophia has already been popular for a number of years.

A similar situation is Jasmin(e), which grew in popularity after the Aladdin movie. I teach college kids and encounter Jasmin(e)s fairly often. I don't think that people associate it that strongly with the movie. And in that case, I'd argue that Jasmin(e) was even more uncommon than Sofia/Sophia was previously.

Another example is Jacob and Bella - these top 10 popular names happen to be in the Twilight books/movies. There were a number of news stories that reported that the names had a burst BECAUSE of the books and movies. But they were already extremely popular well before the books/movies.

So I wouldn't worry about her name being associated with a Disney Princess.


As far as the "I hate princesses" attitude. Honestly, the most feminist parents I know have somehow ended up with daughters that enjoy the Disney Princesses. This seems to come from social pressure/norms at school. Some daycares/preschools seem to be more Disney Princess-obsessed than others (it seemed to especially impact campus daycare at my grad school institution, but wasn't as big of an issue at our preschool co-op in DC or our preschool in Seattle. Yes, the girls tended to gravitate to the Disney Princesses for accessories or Valentine's, but I didn't see any for Halloween costumes or frequent clothing like I did at campus.) This also is a stage that passes. It looks like a lot of girls dump the Disney Princesses by the time they hit Kindergarten.

You can make choices though -- don't show your kid those videos. Don't buy those books.
We consciously kept most character-driven stuff away from our kid until we realized the social pressure and that it WORKED. The Dora-themed potty training book was very attractive. Toy Story stickers were appreciated more than non-character stickers. Now my kid is 4 and has just started getting interested in SuperHeroes. I indulge a little - Halloween costume, an occasional video - but try to keep it at a minimum.

There is also a ton of alterna-princess stuff out there -- Paper Bag Princess, or just generic princess playclothes, dolls, etc.
posted by k8t at 8:55 AM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I wouldn't worry about the name. I will also point out that it may not be up to you whether your daughter wants girly princessy clothes. As the son of one of the founding members of NOW, who has had Thanksgiving at Betty Friedan's, I swear to you that my daughter's predilection for girly clothes is entirely genetic.

What you can do as a parent is make sure she knows that she can be a princess and also kick ass.

And to that end, they now sell child-sized boffer swords and shields in pink.

Anyway, it's a great name and go for it.
posted by musofire at 8:57 AM on October 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

It's a popular enough name already that the primary association with it is never going to be Disney Princess. It's not like you're naming her Aurora or Mulan.

My name actually comes from the Hebrew word for princess.

There is a metric crap-ton of literature out there featuring princess characters named Sara(h), or twee heroines named Sara(h) -- a la A Little Princess' Sara Carew.

And yet, Sara(h) is also a very common name for women my age, and the primary association with the name wasn't prissy pink ruffly-pants princess. Just like Sofia. (Which, remember, also is associated with wisdom, which is pretty kickass and feminist and not princessy.)

I grew up to be a strong feminist despite having a name often used for princesses in pop culture. I also know plenty of feminists with far more cutesy names than Sofia, and plenty of feminists who share names with Disney Princesses (mostly Ariels and Jasmines).
posted by Sara C. at 8:58 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Name her Sofia. Then pick out a middle name so she has an alternative if she hates it. (Then have a strong cup of tea and make your peace with the possibility that pink will be her favorite color, Disney princesses her favorite thing and yadda.)
posted by Michele in California at 8:58 AM on October 19, 2012 [8 favorites]

Here's a neat argument: Sofia will be voiced by Ariel Winter (the actress who plays the middle child on Modern Family). Clearly, she is an accomplished young woman whose dreams were not impeded by societal pressure to become a mermaid.
posted by acidic at 9:02 AM on October 19, 2012 [9 favorites]

Huh? By going away from your first choice, you are letting Disney directly influence this choice. I don't get that.

If you're keen on a 'Sofia' person to connect your childs name to, then compare and contrast:

The Sofia in the Disney thing is a fictitious character, created to generate maximum profit for the Disney company. Note I highlighted fictitious.

Now let's pick a real Sofia. Sofia Kovalevskaya. She was awesome, and made a significant contribution to the sum of human knowledge:

"Sofia Kovalevskaya was the first major Russian female mathematician, responsible for important original contributions to analysis, differential equations and mechanics, and the first woman appointed to a full professorship in Northern Europe. She was also one of the first women to work for a scientific journal as an editor."

You say you're a "good feminist mom"? Then if you do need a 'Sofia' role model and inspiration, and a real one at that, there she is.

Wishing you a good birth, and raising a strong, confident and successful child.
posted by Wordshore at 9:02 AM on October 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

I wouldn't worry about the Disney association, but I would suggest that as popular as it is now, it will likely be even more popular in the next couple of years if the Disney show does well. So, if you care about that sort of thing, about your daughter being surrounded by a lot of other Sophias, you might want to think about that.
posted by OmieWise at 9:02 AM on October 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

when she's two or three, and every second well-meaning grown-up who wants to connect says "Oh? Just like the princess! You are a pretty little princess!"

Keep in mind that people will treat your daughter in annoying gender-inflected ways regardless of what you name her.
posted by Sara C. at 9:02 AM on October 19, 2012 [15 favorites]

It's a very common name, and a very pretty one. Disney's Sofia isn't even getting her own movie. I wouldn't worry about it at all.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:06 AM on October 19, 2012

Despite what their marketing department says, for many fans, REAL Disney Princesses are the ones who get their own Feature Length Theatrical Release Animated Films. Sofia is getting a 90 minute pilot episode to a TV series.

The buzz about "Disney's first Latina Princess" is merely press release trolling on their part to bump up ratings for the new series, as well as make them appear as more diversified to the segment of the populace who skim these hyped up "news" articles, and never actually follow up on the details.
posted by radwolf76 at 9:09 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree that because this character is going to be on a Disney channel tv show, that the likeness of her being as popular as Jasmine won't be as high. From what little info is out there, i would not be surprised in the slightest if Sofia doesn't come off as a slightly older Dora the Explorer.

I'd also like to point out that Disney's princesses have come a long way from Aurora and Snow White. Disney has received a lot of criticism over the years about their role models being too vapid. Recent princesses have all been much better. I'd say from Ariel on, perhaps with the exception of Jasmine*, all the girls have been strong. Not too much of damsel in distress, waiting to be rescued types. (*I will argue that the name of the movie was Aladdin and not "Jasmine" or "Princess of Agrabah" the tv show was actually really good and explored her independent/feisty nature more)

Disney got a large amount of flack for this movie, but if you haven't seen it.. give the Princess and the Frog a watch. The movie actually makes a few points about how you have to work for your dreams and that you can't just wish on a star to get what you want.

It might change your outlook a little and make you less worried over naming your girl the same name as a Disney princess.
posted by royalsong at 9:09 AM on October 19, 2012

Surely there's another name.

It's not a feminism question, it's a pop-culture question. The Michael Jackson I grew up with just never was able to have his own identity, and that was when he was famous only for his music. I felt sorry for him. A family surname in my world is Stephens, and I would have loved to name my kid2 Stephen, it's my favorite boy's name of all time and both my sister and I would have been named Stephen had either of us been a boy, but didn't because his last name is King. Nothing gender-based about it, it was already someone else's identity in this culture and he deserved to have his own name.

The name Sofia has a long non-Disney history and will have a long non-Disney life, but in the brief bubble of time that will be the formative years for your daughter and the kids in her cohort, the name Sofia will mean a Disney cartoon. And that's the cohort that will be with her in high school and college and at work. She deserves to have her own name.
posted by headnsouth at 9:12 AM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Sara C. is right and Sofia is a lovely name with a looong history. Don't change your plans because of a Disney show that will likely be quickly forgotten.
posted by Wretch729 at 9:13 AM on October 19, 2012

I think you are over-thinking it. I presume you know many people who are not the only person you know by a particular name. Do you think of them as being exactly the same as other? Is the David you know from work thought of exactly the same as the David you know from college? Linda Lovelance and Linda McCartney share a first name but nothing more. A name is what you make of it, matched to a particular person. Frankly, personally I'd be more concerned that your daughter will go through life with the "inefficiency" of having to tell everyone how to spell her name (lest they spell it "Sophia"). But that's just my own view.
posted by Dansaman at 9:14 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you love the name, use it as a middle name.

There will be, I promise, a metric crapton of parents who will use this name in this small window of time, and your child will be one of many with the name.

(I had a name all picked out for one of my girls, a name that I had literally only heard of once, and thought was really unique. Then just a bit before I had her, a tv show became popular, and one of the female characters just happened to have that name. Thank God we used the name for a middle name because that name just exploded to include various and sundry spellings of it. The more conventional name we used for the first name turned out to be way more unique for her.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:20 AM on October 19, 2012

I'd be more concerned that your daughter will go through life with the "inefficiency" of having to tell everyone how to spell her name (lest they spell it "Sophia").

Yes. This is off topic, but PLEASE keep in mind that your daughter will be "Sofia B." and "Sofia-with-an-eff" for the rest of her life.

She will also likely always have to spell out her email address unless she comes up with a really creative way around using her first name in her email address.

Nothing wrong with any of the above, but every once in a while I wish my parents had gone with Sarah, or perhaps something not in the top 10 names for girls the year I was born.
posted by Sara C. at 9:20 AM on October 19, 2012 [11 favorites]

The good feminist mom would take a step back and look at whether or not they're going overboard by denying their daughter a pretty name just because it will be used in a Disney franchise. Let it go, and if your daughter ends up liking that show because it has her name, embrace that, and show her all the other amazing Sophias/Sofias that are out there so she grows up with as holistic a view of life as possible if you're concerned about princess-isms.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 9:20 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

This... is not going to matter. At all. Jasmine and Ariel are the only names I can think of that might have been co-opted and for the girls I know named Ariel, it just does not matter. Ariel is also a beautiful name (as is Jasmine!) and I would name my daughter either. I think a bad way too start off feminist parenting would be to set yourself in such a battle with Disney (and tell your daughter the story of what she would have been named...). Transcend.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:21 AM on October 19, 2012

Sofia is a very nice, traditional name that has a long history of common use. Also, this is a Disney TV movie not an actual big budget film, and Disney TV movies tend not to have the public perception that their big budget films do.

(That said, my aunt and uncle decided against naming their "wow, she's a redhead!" daughter Ariel the year the movie came out because, well. They might not have named her that even had she been a brunette, but the hair colour sealed the deal. I'm not sure that 20 years later it matters.)
posted by jeather at 9:22 AM on October 19, 2012

One more vote for not letting the Empire of the Mouse push you around. Always name a child FOR something, and never dismiss a name AGAINST something. When it comes down to it, the importance of a name is between you and your child. To the rest of the world, a name can be anything, and it doesn't really matter.
posted by Citrus at 9:23 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Disney Channel Princesses don't count - heck, there is heated preschool debate whether or not Rapunzel from "Tangled" counts. So, stick with plan "A".

(Plan "B" would be to name her "Umberhulk," which originates from a culture that can trace its origins all the way back to the late '70s.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:26 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sophia and Sofia are the 1st and 19th most popular names for baby girls this year. I think you should focus your efforts on giving your daughter a great middle name so in preschool she can go by "Sofia Rose" rather than "Sofia K. Number Three".
posted by acidic at 9:27 AM on October 19, 2012 [6 favorites]

My niece is named Olivia. Since birth, she has been showered with gifts from family friends that reference this Olivia.

Nevertheless, my niece has had zero interest in the Olivia series, and has not exhibited any tendencies of wanting to turn into a piglet, because she's way more into play cooking like her daddy, and is a bigger fan of Curious George and Elmo.

All of which is to say: not only is there vanishingly little chance that your daughter being named the same as a Disney princess going to forever impact the course of her life, but also that you are neglecting to consider the fact that your daughter will be a unique individual and will have her own choices - and who knows WHAT the hell those will be, but whatever they are, they will be unshakingly definitive, and God help anyone who stands in the way.

Name your child what you really want to name her. Disney can go fuck themselves.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:27 AM on October 19, 2012

I'm a feminist with a daughter. I felt pretty anti-princess when my daughter was born, but she loved them and it didn't kill either of us and now that she's a savvy 11 year-old, she thinks the Disney princesses are stupid. Sofia is a lovely name that will far outlast anything Disney. Congratulations!
posted by upatree at 9:32 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Sophia" itself was the second most common name given to American girls in 2010.

Yeah, you stand to run into the opposite problem; not that she'll identify with the Disney princess, but that she'll be one of many Sophias in each grade. My sister had wanted to name a daughter Sophia for years (it's a family name for us), but resisted precisely because it's gotten so popular.

But no, the Disney aspect isn't likely to have any impact.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:33 AM on October 19, 2012

My vote is for it doesn't matter. Sophia/Sofia is a classic name that's had a resurgence in recent years, it seems more like Disney is following a trend rather than creating one here. You don't know yet if your daughter will go through the princess phase. You also don't know if your daughter will be all, "My name is Sofia, just like Princess Sofia" to her pre-school friends, or if she'll roll her eyes when another little kid brings it up.

That said, maybe for you, you can't get over it. And that's ok. When I was pregnant with our daughter, my husband and I were leaning toward one name that we thought of as classic but not overwhelmingly popular. Then one night we were at a party with some other families and we overheard one guy say, "Oh. ---- name? That is such a stripper name!!" (We hadn't told anyone at that point.) And it ruined it for us. I polled some friends and it turns out no one else I know thinks of it as a stripper name, but I just couldn't bring myself to embrace a name that I now associate with that dude, "stripper names", and all the attendant baggage.
posted by stowaway at 9:37 AM on October 19, 2012

Sofia is a lovely name. If you think hard enough you will come up with an objection--and a school yard barb--to go with every name imaginable. With regards to the Disney situation in particular: I have a 9 year old daughter, granted slightly out of the demographic targeted by Princesses, Inc., and I had never even heard that Disney had a new princess, so possibly Princess Sofia isn't going to make such a splash. Plus, if she is a hit, I would think the danger of a wave of Disney-related Sofia namings would hit about 25 years from now when all those princess lovers start having babies of their own, no?
posted by looli at 9:38 AM on October 19, 2012

I certainly wouldn't worry about the Disney aspect. As many have already said, it's a massively popular name right now, so that would be my first concern. Or not. My sister named her kids Emily and Andrew, who cares that they'll be one of many in their respective classes?

I named one of my kids Linus. It's actually kind of handy that I can reference the cartoon character when people seem puzzled by it. Maybe it'd be handy to be able to say, "like the princess?" when people are not sure how to spell it.

PS December 4 is a great birthday, that's my boys' birthday! So fingers crossed you go on your due date.
posted by pyjammy at 9:40 AM on October 19, 2012

My name is Elizabeth. No one has ever said to me in my entire life, "Oh! Like the queen!"

So I think you're probably fine with Sofia, except that there will be lots of girls with variations on that name in her school. But that's a separate issue.

Also, I think you'll find that your kid sort of grows into their name over time and there will be a day when you can't even imagine having named your kid anything else. With Kid Zizzle, that happened around 2 years old. With Baby Zizzle it was a bit sooner.
posted by zizzle at 9:42 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I highly doubt that she will decide to opt out of the career track in order to be a stay-at-home-princess due to her name.

Focus on things like modeling gender equality in the home, placing her in single-sex science and math education, encouraging her to participate in sports, avoiding emphasizing her looks and dress. She can attend AP Calculus dressed as Belle and it doesn't make a lick of difference, because the clothes don't make the woman--right? Right.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 9:42 AM on October 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

Thanks to everyone for the responses! Each and every one of them made me think. I don't like the idea of being pushed around by Disney, and I'm beginning to wonder if my concern was just an excuse to pick a different name (I'm warming up to "Emily"). Also, Jasmine would have been on our list without a second thought had we not adopted a shelter cat named Jasmine.

And yes, the popularity thing will be an issue. In our area there are not many Sophias or Sofias, but that could change. I was Jill K. and Jill Number Three all my life and I did not like it AT ALL. So maybe there is something unique out there that we can think about.

Thanks again, everyone! I knew this was the perfect place to ask this question.
posted by bristolcat at 9:50 AM on October 19, 2012

To me, being a feminist means a woman has choices. Otherwise, we're just swinging the pendulum from one end (women must NOT work or have ambitions) to the other end (women MUST work and have ambitions and not like pink). Both preconceived stereotypes fail to allow women to be individuals, with their own preferences and choices in life.

So what if your daughter has a feminine name? (Btw, any name can be made fun of.) And what if she does like princesses and pink? It's all okay as long as she does not do that because she feels pressured to "be a girl." From what you wrote, it sounds like she'd feel pressured to NOT like princesses, if anything.

(Also, I don't have a feminine name, but I love princesses and calculus. But I grew up in a family where one had no relation to the other--and in fact, princesses were physically weak, which I was as a child, and so HAD to use their brains to save the day. The older I get, the more I realize how unusual my upbringing was.)
posted by ethidda at 10:12 AM on October 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

I think that Sofia/Sophia is a very popular name right now, and it's not necessarily because of the Disney connection. My concern would be that the show would perhaps make the name even more prominent on the cultural radar, so she's always be "Sofia - last initial" or "Sofia with an F," because there'd be a couple of other Sofias/Sophias in her class.

My child has a popular name and that aspect of her name bothers her. But if you love the name, go for it! It is a very pretty name.
posted by Ostara at 10:39 AM on October 19, 2012

I was once in a discussion about choosing a name for a soon-to-be-born baby girl. A few of us were tossing around concerns about which names were trending and would the child have the same name as everyone else, god forbid. Then the father stuck his head in the room and said, quite exasperated, "So what the heck is so bad about having a common name?" His name was Mike. So some people don't care.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 10:43 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

We named our daughter Aspen, after a specific grove of Aspens in Central Oregon in which she was first talked about and envisioned (but not conceived).

People often think she named after Aspen, Colorado. When people ask that, I tell them, no, she is named after the Dodge Aspen.

So do what you are going to do and perhaps have a snarky answer ready for the Disney-tie-in askers.
posted by Danf at 10:58 AM on October 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

The feminist thing to do is to go with your gut and choose the name you like.

That being said, you need to know that people are going to buy your daughter all the Sofia toys. Your family, her friends, etc. People will think it's a positive association. The friends and family who are on board will listen to you and not push the Disney princess thing. But birthday parties and so on may result in Sofia princess gifts, t-shirts and so on. Your daughter, in fact, may even gravitate to the branded items.

Both my kids have names that are part of major pop culture franchises. People do buy them things that have those characters on them. I suspect that it would be even more common if it was a princess and they were girls. People accessorize boys a little less, so far.

So, with that in mind, name her what you want. Just be prepared for how you may manage people who disregard your wishes about princess ware. (Maybe you're going to do a $5+$5 birthday party, sidestepping the whole gift exchange, for example.)

Or you could do what I do. I do things like act out the princess rescuing the knight from the dragon. Or the dragon rescuing the princess and the knight. Or I emphasize Leia rescuing Han and Luke and I point out that she must have been freezing in that bikini and how she changed into something more comfortable after.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 11:07 AM on October 19, 2012

My name was 6th most popular in america the year I was born, and I always had at least three other girls every class with my name. I still like my name.... but I could have done without sharing it all the freakin' time.

The princess thing is no big deal, except you might be able to get some cool swage for her birthdays.

one of the most surreal moments of my life was sitting down at a cafeteria table in college and realizing that all of the six girls i was eating lunch with had my name. never again.
posted by Blisterlips at 11:24 AM on October 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

And, honestly, who remembers the real names of the Disney princesses? Cinderella, Ariel, and Jasmine come to mind.

Um, Cinderella's name is Ella, cinder is a put-down. Ella remains one of the most popular names in America even among the anti-princess backlash crowd. Aurora (AKA Sleeping Beauty) has a growing following. These names have a much longer history than the Disney Corporation, don't let them have them.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:37 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree with the herd, Sofia is a very nice name and has enough of a foothold in the culture that it can stand on its own. She may, of course, get gifted with things that have her name on them if it's spelled the same and the franchise is strong. Hard to know.

Also, I totally applaud your feminist feelings on this. Lots of people tut-tut this but I think it's important, in this day and age, to think critically about how gender is marketed and what those messages mean. People seem to think that this is the way it has always been but that is not the case at all. Gender marketing has become a huge, huge thing and I find it so puzzling and weird that women are supposedly totally equal now and yet we have more and more divisive marketing out there. It's a strange kind of backlash, maybe? And it makes me uneasy. At best, I find the messaging to be the laziest form of marketing.

Frankly, I've found it easier than I thought to steer my kid away from that stuff (age 2). I don't have anyone very close to me or us who brings that in. And for the few friends that are drowning in pink & princesses, they know I'm not too into it and don't push it. And I have no compunction about getting rid of toys, books or clothing that I'm not into. And I also find that I can relax about some of the "girly" choices that are out there which is nice, too.

Sorry for the ramble: short story, I don't think it's silly to think about the name this way. If it were me, I might have one or two backup names and see how I felt once the baby has come into the world. Congratulations!
posted by amanda at 12:54 PM on October 19, 2012

You can't control this. You could name her something that seems VERY offbeat to you right now, and it could become bizarrely popular in the next five years (one of my friends picked a name where I'd only ever heard of one other person with that name in my entire life before her kid, and now, less than ten years later, it's reasonably common), or the next Nickelodeon superstar could have the same name, or frankly, the next newsmaking criminal. Seriously: You cannot control this.

Pick what you like. And as others have noted, it's a tiny bit off-topic, but you're not necessarily going to keep all princess things (I'm not sure what's wrong with ballet slippers, to be honest) or all pink away from your kid, and she will probably still turn out just fine. A "we choose these things more than those things" approach makes sense to me; an attempt at a princess quarantine just seems like it will lead to fascination on her part and frustration on yours.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 1:07 PM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

BTW, if name popularity is a problem, you might want to re-think Emily.

The name thing is hard. After a while we stopped telling people what we were going to name our baby because often enough somebody would say "Wednesday! I knew a guy named Wednesday in school. He used to pick his nose all the time."
posted by tuesdayschild at 3:03 PM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Your daughter won't necessarily be stuck be called what you name her and I think Sofia is a perfectly lovely name. It's my Babci's (grandmother) name, in fact, and it had plenty of poor (Eastern-European) White trash when she was a child, so she and all her sisters decided to take "American" names. More than 80 years later she still goes by "Midge."

So if your daughter doesn't like sharing her name with a Disney princess there are plenty of ways for her to go by something else. Maybe you could even give her a cool middle name too, as a back-up?
posted by Panjandrum at 3:20 PM on October 19, 2012

My name is Jasmine. I was in middle school when Aladdin came out. It was a thing in my life for, like, 15 minutes - and that was a fairly popular movie. Unless you're using one of the names from the traditional European fairy tales, most people won't make the connection.

Every once in a while somebody tries to call me Princess Jasmine, but I always shut that shit down.

The princess stuff is hard as hell to avoid, particularly in the 4-6 age range. But my kid is older now, and her passions are Minecraft and Rick Riordan books. She had a bunch of princess stuff, and now has less than zero interest in any of it (and generally refuses to wear pink).

My daughter is named Hermione, and I was worried about the impact of that (would there be a lot of Hermiones, would it be too closely associated with Harry Potter, etc.). A surprisingly large number of people do not recognize the name at all.
posted by jeoc at 5:45 PM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Is this your first child? If not, then you are probably keyed into what names are popular. But if this is your first baby, tread carefully with popular names.

I remember going to the playground when my son was 2 and every other boy was named Jack. Every single person said, "We didn't know anyone with the name Jack until ours was born! And now they are everywhere!"

If you have any friends with young kids, ask them how many Sophia/Sofias there are in their classes.

I agree that it's a lovely name. But for your daughter, it might feel like Jennifer.
posted by bluedaisy at 8:04 PM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

> Um, Cinderella's name is Ella, cinder is a put-down. Ella remains one of the most popular names in America even among the anti-princess backlash crowd.

The character is not named Ella. Cinderella is the put-down; the "ella" makes it diminutive. (LIn Perrault she's Cendrillon; the French word for ash is cendre.)
posted by desuetude at 8:12 PM on October 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

I'd really like to stress that you and Disney are following the same pressures and you might want to dodge away from it. (Also, in the final season of House one of the doctors had two babies with different women... One of the jokes was that both moms chose to name them Sophie. This is definitely a Thing right now.)
posted by anaelith at 5:17 AM on October 20, 2012

Also wanted to note that I've had up to five other girls/women with the same name as mine in classes I've taken in the past, and it's really no big deal. To be honest, I'd much rather have a normal, classically beautiful name that I shared with a lot of other women than a "unique" name that caused me grief or something. I think people really overthink these things. Who you are as a person will quickly overtake any other name-based impression people have of you.
posted by stoneandstar at 7:07 PM on October 20, 2012

Oops, didn't see your update. But in that case, I agree that a good middle name will help. Emily Rose, Mary Clare, &c.
posted by stoneandstar at 7:14 PM on October 20, 2012

Having seen your update, I just want to mention that in fact, Sophia is the number 4 girls name in South Dakota. The fact that you're spelling it differently will just make it more difficult, and will not prevent her from being Sofia C. (or whatever) for far too much of her life. (Yes, I do know something about this. I picked an unusual name for metafilter because my actual name is the number 2 girls name for me year and place.) You might want to glance through some of the linked list because Emily is the number name.

It's okay to give your child a name that is popular, but please be prepared with a middle name that can either always be used in conjunction or a good nickname that's less common. (I still kinda wish my name was less popular, that there was a nickname for it, or that the combination of my first and middle name didn't envoke a popular bawdy poem. It's pretty unworkable. My daughter's name is down at 269 for the year she was born and even though it's gotten more popular since, it's only up to 150 now.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 10:40 AM on October 21, 2012

Even though Sofia/Sophia and Emily are popular names, I wouldn't worry as much about there being sooo many kids with those names in your daughter's class, because names have branched out a lot more over time.

"As Wattenberg points out, in the 1950s, the top 25 most common boy's names and the top 50 girl's names accounted for half of babies born. Today, however, those top names are given to fewer babies. In fact, you'd have to include the most popular 134 boy's names and the top 320 girl's names to cover half of all babies born every year."
posted by mgogol at 7:26 AM on October 22, 2012

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