The XX Factor

Who Really Regrets Their Baby’s Name?

Gwyneth Paltrow takes her baby daughter, called Apple, out for a walk, on May 20, 2004
Gwyneth Paltrow takes her baby daughter, called Apple, out for a walk, on May 20, 2004 in South London.

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We really want Gwyneth to regret naming that child Apple, don’t we? The story of the study that supposedly reveals nearly 10 percent of parents as regretting bestowing a weird moniker on their helpless infants has been gaining traction since my mother sent it to me last week. In Jezebel it’s More Parents Realize Their Baby’s Name is Ridiculous. On HuffPo it’s the more accurate Baby Name Mistakes, but the Daily Mail brings the star right into the headline: So do you still like Apple now, Gwyneth?

I’m not above being interested in the idea that Ms. Paltrow might regret her name choice. But I’m more intrigued by why we so want her—and the celebrity parents of every child from Sparrow to Sunday to Fifi Trixibelle—to experience that regret. Schadenfreude much? Because the survey, conducted by a baby naming site, didn’t find that “baby name remorse” was limited to the parents of the uniquely named, or even felt much by those parents. It’s the parents who thought they’d bestowed an unusual name, only to hear it hollered across every Park Slope playground, who had regrets, along with those who chose a name that was “fashionable” at the time. The sorriest parents are those of Sophie and Jacob, not Pilot or, well, Apple.

Could it be that we’d just really like to see Gwyneth fail, or to convince ourselves that Nicole Ritchie could bring herself to regret something (anything)? After all, the thing about giving your child a really unique name (even a silly one) is that you fully expect him or her to be able to live up to it. To revel in it, even. And presumably it never even occurs to you that he or she would hate you for it. It reveals a certain enviable confidence that those of us striving for baby names that are “unusual but not too unusual” may kinda wish we possessed. Even if we’d still, absolutely, name our son Sam.