LivingThis is how names like Pamela and Brenda, the...

This is how names like Pamela and Brenda, the Daenerys of the 80s and 90s, succeeded and went out of fashion

What influences when choosing the name of the baby? Traditionally, parents used to carry on family customs, such as using grandparents’ names for their babies. However, many families get ideas from other places.

One of those places that has undoubtedly been a source of inspiration is the entertainment industry, where series, movies and even actors have served as inspiration for parents in search of a name for their children .

Today we talk about this trend that has seen how names like Brenda and Pamela, the Daenerys of the 80s and 90s, quickly triumphed and went out of style just as quickly.

Pamela exploded in the 80s and Brenda in the 90s

Those who work in film and literature know that the name of a character is key and can even define whether that character will be loved or hated by the public. What they may not always expect is that parents choose that name for their children, especially when the character is admired and loved by the public.

Let’s take Pamela as an example. Before 1980, the records of the National Institute of Statistics (INE) show that the total number of Pamelas in Spain did not reach 150 per decade. However, analyzing the decade from 1980 to 1990, we observe that there was a historical record of 1,806 Pamelas: almost 60% of all Pamelas in the country. A colleague shares an anecdote told by his mother, who was a teacher at the time: ” one day I started a new course and suddenly I had four Pamelas in class “.

What was it that happened so that the popularity of this name skyrocketed? The answer is ‘Dallas’, an American series that premiered in Spain in May 1979, at a time when there were only one or two open channels in the entire country. The show was a ratings hit for the time, and ’80s moms had a massive crush on Pamela “Pam” Ewing , a middle-class girl having a terrible time in the middle of a wealthy Texas family.

On the other hand we have Brenda, in the nineties. In the years when Pamela was successful, Brenda was a name that was little known in Spain – in that same decade, there were only 398 registered Brenda. But by the time we hit our 90s, we see that number triple with the 1,219 Brendas born between 1990 and 2000.

Once again, television seems to be responsible: in 1992 the series ‘Sensation of living’ (originally titled ‘Beverly Hills 90210’) premiered in Spain through Telecinco. Brenda, the twin that starred her, became one of the most popular characters of the decade thanks to the success of this series , which in addition to representing teenagers in a realistic way, addressed issues that were not usually seen on television, making viewers emotionally connect with their characters.

In both cases, the decline was as rapid as their rise: in the decades after the popularity of Pamela and Brenda, the number of girls registered with these names fell dramatically. In the last ten years, only 108 Pamelas and 373 Brendas were born.

And in the 2010s Daenerys arrived

We cannot make a post of baby names that television has made popular without mentioning ‘Game of Thrones’, one of the biggest television successes of the past decade and that inspired many parents when choosing the name of their baby.

The clearest example is the mother of dragons: Daenerys, whose name did not exist in Spain before the 2010s . Although there are few girls who bear this name (189 in total) it is one of the names that became popular thanks to the most popular series of the moment.

However, this name is also an example that could indicate that it is not always convenient to take names inspired by fictional characters or at least wait until the series is over: dozens of parents regretted having chosen Daenerys as a name for their daughters. , when the final season of the series took a turn and the mother of dragons became the villain.

But in addition to Daenerys, “Game of Thrones” brought another new name to Spain: Arya. There are currently 1,168 girls registered with this name, inspired by Arya Stark , who is undoubtedly one of the most memorable and admired characters.

Other names inspired by film and television

The above examples have not been the only television names that parents have chosen for their children, and the trend of naming them after some popular fictional character continues through the generations.

Going back to the last decades of the 20th century, we find other examples that are worth remembering and mentioning:

Brandon. Brenda’s twin in ‘Sensaci√≥n de Vivir’ also had a considerable impact. Before 1990, this name literally did not exist in Spain, and 73% of Spanish Brandons were born in the 1990s and 2000s, coinciding with the popularity of the series.

Sabrina. In the 1960s, just over a hundred girls bore this name. But with the arrival of ‘Charlie’s Angels’ on Spanish television in the late 1970s, its popularity soared thanks to the character of Sabrina Duncan, one of the three “angels”, with 2,087 girls registered with this name between the decades from the 70s and 80s. The name had a small rise again between 2000 and 2010, coinciding with the broadcast of ‘Sabrina, witch things’.

Ariel. Before 1990, Ariel was considered a boy’s name in Spain and there was no girl who carried it. After the release of ‘The Little Mermaid’ in 1989, Ariel became an option for girls as well, and although it did not have as big an impact as other names, its popularity has been increasing decade after decade.

Approaching more recent decades, we can observe other similar examples:

Noah. Before 2000, there were only 90 men with the name of Noah in Spain since 1970. After the premiere of ‘El Diario de Noah’ in 2003, the popularity of this name increased in the years after its arrival in the cinema, reaching 4,556 children with this name between the decades of 2000 and 2010.

Elsa. Although this name has been present in Spain since the 1930s, its use skyrocketed after the mega success of ‘Frozen’ in 2013, with 7,355 girls registered with that name in the same decade of its release.

But not only movies and series have served as inspiration. Also fashionable actors and actresses have influenced parents. The clearest example is found in Jennifer, which, although it was already a rare name in Spain, had its peak in the 1990s with almost 9,000 girls registered with this name, just when Jennifer Aniston was starring in the series ‘Friends’.

Is it a good idea to choose names from the fashion series?

The answer to this question is neither yes nor no. Opting for a fashionable name, which is specifically of a popular character of the moment, has a couple of things in favor and many others against .

On the one hand, choosing a name that belongs to a popular and fashionable character – even if it is considered rare or did not exist before – makes it an easy name to remember and that we may not have to spell or explain, precisely because it is quite well known. .

But on the other hand, doing so also has its risks. If it is a very peculiar name, for example, it can be mocked by other people , causing discomfort or embarrassment to children who take it by name and repentance to parents.

Also, when it comes to names of the fashion series we will have to take into account several things, from the personality to the history and actions of the character in question . Those of us who saw ‘Game of Thrones’, for example, know that Cersei is a name that, despite having a nice sound, we would never choose for a girl due to the type of character that carried it.

In the end, the decision to appoint the children as the protagonists of the moment corresponds entirely to the parents , who will evaluate the options and will already know if it is convenient or not to do so.

But yes, we recommend waiting until the story of that character has come to an end , to avoid ending up in a “Daenerys situation”.

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