Identity Crisis

"Unique" baby names are too bizarre for their own good.

By Kelly Wolfe | Illustration by William Burns

Somewhere in the U.S., there’s a guy who’s always dreaded having to fill out his “Hello My Name Is” tag. Why? His name is Sex Fruit. Seriously. Google it.

The strange, what-were-his-parents- thinking names once so rare have become commonplace. As creative and innovative as the trend appears, it leaves today’s children with names some can barely pronounce.

Sweden realized the downsides of offensively alternative names. With laws defining the acceptable and the just- plain-wrong, the government hopes to stem the trend’s viral effect. In the United States, however, you’re free to give your child any absurd name you please. Free speech is great and all, but there are less embarrassing ways to practice it.

It’s easy to point fingers at Hollywood for this ridiculous phenomenon, given the public’s tendency to follow in the footsteps of today’s pop culture icons. Celebrities are the first to start any trend, especially bizarre baby naming. Jennifer Moss, founder of, says celebrities do this to show society they are “fundamentally creative in every aspect.”

“Although a wacky name means more attention, it’s important to realize that a name shouldn’t be chosen for publicity,” says Moss. Parents must also remember that a name is permanent. A name that sounds cute for a child won’t sound the same for a CEO, says Christine Himes, a professor of sociology in the Maxwell School.

But the rich and famous aren’t the only enemies of John and Jane Smith.The strange naming trend has trickled into the homes of all social statuses. Bottom line, parents want their child to stand out. To ensure their kid becomes more than just a face in the crowd, parents stray away from popular lists of conventional names. This has led to an uptick in unusual names, shown in a 2010 study by San Diego State University.

Parents need to exercise caution when choosing a name for their bundle of joy. For one, crazy names are more likely to draw unwanted attention. Naming your kid Adolf Hitler Campbell, for example, is bound to warrant a call from child protective services.

Take it from the girl whose sister wanted to name her Pluto (which, by the way, would have been illegal in Denmark). It’s understandable to want your child to stand out. But unlike those eccentric shoes you’re wearing, a child can’t be tucked away in a closet when it falls out of fashion. That would be illegal everywhere.