Why People Are Naming Their Babies Ivanka & Melania

Photo: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images.
Well this we did not expect. More parents are naming their babies after the U.S. first lady and first daughter, with "Ivanka" having surged in popularity by 362% and "Melania" by 227% since 2015, according to a review of Social Security Administration data by the website AreaVibes. (Hello, MAGA onesies?)
Meanwhile, Ivanka's sis Tiffany saw her name popularity decline by 17% (sorry, Tiff), while "Barron" jumped by 90%, "Donald" dropped by 11%, and "Eric" went down by 6%.
The growing interest in their unique names, at the same time as "Donald" is falling out of favour, speaks to the perception of Ivanka and Melania as neutral, peacemaking figures despite their complicity in the administration's worst policies. We can just picture a specific type of Dallas mom naming her little precious Ivanka because "she's so graceful and elegant."
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While use of these names is rising, they're still both very uncommon. In 2017, only 164 baby girls were named Ivanka. It's less popular than "Ivana," of which Ivanka is a nickname in Czech: 191 girls got the name in 2017. (Ivanka Trump's real name is actually "Ivana"; she was named after her mom.)
Pamela Redmond Satran, cofounder of Nameberry.com and author of several baby-name books, as well as the book Younger, says people are more likely to make the "president's daughter" association with little Ivankas than they are the "first lady" association with little Melanias. "Ivanka is a much more distinctive and much less intrinsically likable name: That 'ank' syllable is not very attractive," she tells Refinery29. "Figuratively, at this point there's still only one Ivanka — just like there's only one Kanye, one Barack, one Madonna — no matter how many other people get the name."
Melania was the fifth fastest-rising baby-girl name in 2017. It increased 720 places to enter the top 1,000 at #930. In 2017, 283 girls were named Melania. "I would guess that at least 280 of them were because people heard and liked the first lady's name," says Redmond Satran. "It's got the ingredients to be a popular name apart from the influence of Mrs. Trump: It's both familiar and exotic, and is similar to some recent names that became more visible and more popular, like...Malia. You might not have to be a rabid Trump fan, or even a Republican, to name your baby Melania, but you have to feel positively about the association because it will be universal in the U.S."
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Speaking of Malia, Social Security data shows that both "Sasha" and "Malia" went up in popularity during the Obama administration. But as for Ivanka, even less than a year ago her name wasn't considered all that hot. "Ivanka is different," Laura Wattenberg, author of The Baby Name Wizard and founder of BabyNameWizard.com, told Live Science. "She's not a little girl, and she's an explicitly political figure."
Wattenberg explained that people named their kids after presidents — Cleveland, Roosevelt — pretty reliably until around the middle of the 20th century. After that, it's possible the public became more cynical. "There was a clear turning point in American history where we went from routinely naming after political and military leaders and avoiding them at all costs," Wattenberg said.
When it comes to Melania and Barron, they fit into some already existing baby-name trends, she added. "Melania" is a flowing, "liquid name" like "Arianna," and Barron is an "exalted" name that evokes royalty.
So, while Tiffany may not be the most popular Trump right now, at least her name will be forever synonymous with fine jewelry and not possible indictments like her big sister.
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