Busy Philipps on Baby-Naming: Name Your Baby What You Want to Call Them

At the end of her stimulating article about Busy Philipps’ much criticized approach to baby-naming, Sara McGinnis writing for Baby Center asks readers what they prefer: To pick a traditional (formal) name from which nicknames can be derived? Or to follow Busy Philipps’ practice of naming babies what you want to call them?

McGinnis quotes Busy Philipps (whose given name was Elizabeth Jean Philipps) from an interview on “Today,” “Since I grew up with a nickname — Busy being short for Elizabeth — when my husband and I started to have our babies, we decided that if we wanted to call our kids something, we would just name them that thing that we wanted to call them.” Needless to say, Busy is not short for Elizabeth. Liz , Liza and Beth are short for Elizabeth. Busy is either a name she picked up as a child from a sibling or friend who couldn’t say Lizzy or who inadvertently smushed Beth and Lizzy together–or because she was a human version of the Energizer Bunny.

Philipps’ unconventional style of baby-naming resulted in daughters named Birdie and Cricket. I’m not the only commentator who calls these names  juvenile and demeaning. In her interview Philipps mentioned that Birdie might want to be a professional ice-skater or an astronaut. Do you think that the name Birdie would be a plus in either of those pursuits or would look impressive on her college or job applications? Cricket and Birdie may be cute names for toddlers or preschoolers, but those names are likely to be burdens in high school, college and adulthood.

I’m surprised that Elizabeth stuck with the nickname she picked up as a child. The name Busy projects the image of a multi-tasker in fast-mo (the opposite of slow-mo). The best thing I can say about it is that Busy is a unique and memorable name, like Dweezil, Moon Unit, Apple, Peaches Honeyblossom and North West.

Problem is: neither Birdie nor Cricket are “versatile.” Both names work well during early childhood because they sound “cute,” but at some point in a girl’s life, brains, talent and character become more important  than cute-little-girliness. And from that time on, the juvenile names become a burden. I was called a diminutive nickname for my given name through high school and college. The only way I could lose it was to switch to my middle name when I started graduate school.

So if you want to call your daughters Birdie and Cricket, name them Bridget and Christine and call them by their nicknames through the preschool years and then let them figure out which forms of their names they’d like to use as they grow up and get on with their lives.

You may enjoy Sara McGinniss’ article because it comes with some attractive photos of the telegenic Philipps and the two young daughters whom she named after diminutive chirpy critters.

2 thoughts on “Busy Philipps on Baby-Naming: Name Your Baby What You Want to Call Them

  1. “the unfortunate impression of someone with ADHD” Care to explain why ADHD makes such an “unfortunate” impression on you. Try going about it without making it sound like you got any wrong ideas about mental disorders? Which people got zero control over? Which is really gross to only talk about when you need something that is “obviously” so bad, simply by associating it with her naming style, everyone surely would see why yours is superior? You are quite a chirpy critter yourself aren’t you, being able to fit in the prejudice in an article about baby names.

    • Dear Commenter,
      Thanks so much for calling my attention to language I used in my post about Busy Phillips that gave you (and probably others) the impression that I was biased against people with ADHD. I have rewritten the post to remove any mention of ADHD. I acted immediately (upon reading your comment about five minutes ago) to revise my post, because I realized you were right. Please take another look and let me know if it’s OK. Many of my friends have ADHD and I am impressed when I discover how difficult it is for them to do things that other people can do with much less time and effort. I admire them for their creativity, resourcefulness, persistence and success.

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