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October 20, 2006

"Claire"

Claire

I hate that my name is so in vogue these days. If you look at the nifty and ever-useful Baby Name Wizard (result above), you'll see that in over 100 years, incidence of "Claire" naming never broke the 600 babies per million limit. Not a popular name (but still in the top 1000).

You'll also see that the name's nadir occurred in the early seventies, right when I was born. So when my parents named me, there were only around 100 babies per million of my cohort named "Claire." It was an unusual name.

I grew up not knowing, or even knowing of any other Claires. It was my name only, well-known enough so that no one questioned it, but unusual enough that I didn't have to contend with preconceptions. When Judd Nelson in "The Breakfast Club" claimed "Claire" as "a fat girl's name," it was truly one of those gaffes inevitable in a teen movie written by adults: no 80's teens knew any Claires; the stereotype was one from an earlier era, or perhaps had sprung full-blown out of John Hughes' head.

So the spike in Claires in 2005 gives me more than pause. It gives me menopause, especially since it is accompanied by a sudden spike in movie and especially TV Claires:

• Claire Fisher in "Six Feet Under"
• Claire Bennet in "Heroes"
• a massive number of one-timers on nighttime dramas, especially some ingenue about to die in medical shows
• a girlfriend who did die in flashbacks in movies
• a number of wives and girlfriends in B movies too embarrassing to mention.

It's so gross hearing people onscreen use my name for all of these boring, pretty, white beloveds. They're not Claires! None of 'em are! Just stop it, y'all! Stop!

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Comments

I named my cat Claire back in 1996. Maybe I was ahead of my time. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter... don't fret about your name.

your kitty is welcome to our name. it's not kittehs i'm worried about ... it's the cheesy ingenues, the evergreen bimbs.

what do you call her for short?

Maybe Claire is more popular in the UK, I was one of four in a class of 25!! Born 1973. PS. Not Fat!!

yeah, i think so. i was born in hong kong, actually. brit colony thing.

I know this is a very old post, but as someone also named Claire, I wanted to weigh in. It was rare in America, but it was actually the number one name for baby girls in 1978 the year I was born. (My parents are from Hong Kong, so maybe that contributed as well?)

The number one in Hong Kong? That's where I was born. Where did you get that number?

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