The Social Security Administration has released its annual list of the most popular names, and the number ones — Jacob and Sophia — are the same as last year. But beyond the top ten, many of the names for girls growing in popularity invoke strength and courage instead of delicacy. Case in point: Arya — as in the sword-wieling Stark on Game Of Thrones — is the fastest rising name for girls in 2012.
The top ten names for girls are much as you'd expect: Sophia, Emma, Isabella, Olivia, Ava, Emily, Abigail, Mia, Madison, Elizabeth. And to be clear: Sophia — Greek for wisdom — is not a weak, delicate or fragile name. But browse the "change in popularity" list, and you'll see a lot of strength, starting with Arya, who is a scrappy, defiant tomboy On Game Of Thrones. Some other kick-ass girl names trending:
Hanna (like the fierce hunter in the 2011 film who shoots a freakin' reindeer in the head)
Ayla (like the clever, independent, strong lead character in Clan of the Cave Bear)
Eloise (like the mischievous brat who lived in the Plaza)
Kali (like the Hindu goddess associated with empowerment; pretty badass considering she accessorizes with skulls)
Charlie, Logan, Parker, Quinn, Emerson, Reagan, Presley (giving girls surnames or traditionally male names can be considered a way to imbue them with power)
Athena (goddess of wisdom and, to some extent, warfare)
Eleanor (as in Roosevelt!)
Meanwhile, some "girly," feminine names — many which deal with ladythings like jewels or flowers — are dropping down the list. Over the last 12 years, Tiffany has gone from the top 100 to 370. Grace is out of the top 20 for the first time in 12 years. Tiara went from 377 to 988; Diamond has dropped from 162 to 786. Pearl ranks 756; Jasmine has dropped from 27 to 85. Amber has taken a serious nose dive, Jennifer has gone from 26 to 163 and Sally, the ultimate picture-book girl name, — barely hanging in there at 918 in 2004 — is no longer in the top 1000 at all. (Lily and Rose are actually on the rise, but maybe Veronica Mars and Titanic are skewing those results?)
An aside: Sadly, but unsurprisingly, Britney is SO OVER.
Obviously these things go in cycles; names can feel outdated and then make a comeback in a different generation. Whether or not naming a girl something strong and powerful actually inspires and encourages her to be strong and powerful, it's fun to imagine a kindergarten full of Freyas, Kalis and Athenas instead of Daisies and Tiffanys. Who knows: Maybe we'll have a president named Arya in about forty years.