One of the big recurring themes throughout Greta Gerwig's tear-inducingly relatable Lady Bird is how one can choose their own identity through their name. Lady Bird, the teenage protagonist, refuses to go by her birth name Christine until the very end of the movie, when she's (spoiler) on the other side of the country, uprooted from her Sacramento life. Only then does she tell a boy at a party, "Christine. My name is Christine."
Perhaps the movie's widespread appeal helps explain the quick recent rise of the name Saoirse, after Saoirse Ronan, who portrayed Lady Bird. The baby-name website Nameberry.com, in its report of predictions for popular names in 2018, found that from 2015 to 2016, use of Saoirse in the U.S. nearly doubled. This landed it on the top 1,000 list of U.S. baby names for the first time, at #983.
The interest in her name started when Ronan, then 21, was nominated for an Oscar in 2016 for the film Brooklyn. But Lady Bird helped keep it planted in popular culture.
"Her prize-winning role in Lady Bird really cements her stature as one of today's leading young actresses, making the name Saoirse even more famous and giving it real star quality," Pamela Redmond Satran, cofounder of Nameberry, told Refinery29.
Redmond Satran said part of the name's appeal is its soft, pretty sound, but because its pronunciation can be difficult for some, "I fully expect phonetized spellings like Seersha and Syrshah to spring up."
As for Lady Bird inspiring other new names, she says she can see the rise of Birdie happening in the near future. "I love the whole name theme of the film, how closely your name expresses your identity, how the name you choose for yourself signifies so many deep issues about...family and ambition and belonging," said Redmond Satran. She pointed out that Gerwig's mother's name is also Christine. "I think Lady Bird's acceptance of that name at the end is Greta Gerwig's way of making peace with her mother."
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