I’m hoping you can provide some insight for our little baby girl due at the end of March, 2011.
My favorite name since I was in high school and read “The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” has been Vivian.
Thanks to Miss Jolie, I am nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs about using it!
I very much understand Angelina’s love of “Vivienne,” it’s gorgeous, voluptuous, sultry, womanly, classic and all around uber-fem.
However…I (as most people) do not want my daughter to be known as “Vivian P.”
My husband thinks my fears are invalidated. That, just because a celebrity has used it, doesn’t mean every other woman in our small town of 7,500 will use it.
I’m just not sure. Is Vivian destined to be the next Isabella?
I’m a Jessica and was born at a time when Jessica was all the rage.
Though, I was only one of three in my school. (Validating my husband’s argument.)
Our other favorite is Caroline.
Thank you oh so much for your time.
In situations like this, I rely on the Social Security Administration. First let's look at what's been happening with Vivian:
The first Ya-Ya book was published in 1996. But it's tricky to figure out what impact it had, isn't it? The name Vivian had already started an abrupt rise, going from #502 in 1987 to #294 in 1993. It stayed in the high 200s / low 300s for a decade without seeming much affected by the book, and then in 2002 (the year the movie version came out) abruptly started another rise, a rise that brought it as high as #164 in 2009.
To me, what this looks like is the name coming back into style on its own (the name was last in the Top 100 in 1911-1934, so it's due for another turn in the next few years), but given a shove by an author and a movie---and an additional shove by the birth of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's daughter Vivienne in 2008.
Now let's take a look at what's happened with Vivienne:
I had it set to look in the last 30 years, but Vivienne has only been in the Top 1000 in one of those years: 2009. Which meant spending some time with the non-Top-1000 forms. Here's how many new baby girls were named Vivienne in the U.S. each year (it's a little hard to adjust to this "higher number is more" thing when we're accustomed to the "lower number is more" of the ranking system):
(That's probably further back than we needed to go, but when the numbers went so low I kept waiting to get down to nothing.) In this case it looks more to me as if the book in 1996 had an impact. Perhaps people loved the name Vivian but didn't like the look of it and went looking for a fresher spelling? Or perhaps it's coincidence and the name was going up anyway just like Vivian. It sure looks like the movie in 2002 had an effect, and then Vivienne Jolie-Pitt had an even bigger effect in 2008.
And now let's compare this to Isabella:
Isabella appeared in the Top 1000 in 1990, in the Top 100 in 1998, in the Top 10 in 2004, and at Number 1 in 2009. Vivian doesn't look like that. Vivian's been walking around in the Top 1000 all along. And Vivienne DOES sort of look like that---but it's more like the 1991 Isabella: not enough information to know what it will do next. Plenty of names appear in the Top 1000, shoot up several hundred rankings---and then stay there, never making it even to the Top 100, let alone the Top 10. Having the 2010 numbers would help a lot, but those won't be out until May---by which time your Vivian or Caroline will already be here.
Here is my guess, and it is PURE GUESS, as in "your guess is as good as mine": my guess is that the name Vivian will follow names such as Evelyn and Lillian, but NOT names such as Isabella. I think it will make the Top 50, but that it won't be a super-mega-hit. That's my GUESS. But I am as wrong as the rest of us when it comes to predicting name trends, and perhaps we will all laugh merrily at this post a decade from now.
For further comparison, let's look at Caroline:
This shows what I often say about name perceptions: if you'd asked me to answer without looking, I would have thought Caroline was racing up the ranks, because I feel like I'm "suddenly hearing it everywhere." But I'm completely wrong: it's just hanging around in a non-scary-trend fashion, not even up to the Top 50. And do I know a single baby named Caroline? Er....one. On a blog, not in my non-internet circle. It's just that it seems like so many people have it on their lists, which can give a false sense of commonness.
Okay! So what have we got? We've got Caroline, already in the Top 100 but not looking like it's moving around much: nice and stable. And we've got Vivian, less common but much MUCH less stable. If I were choosing solely on popularity, then, I'd choose Caroline: not only doesn't it make me nervous that it's going to make a mad rush for Number 1, but also it's so classic and traditional it really couldn't be trendy even if it DID hit Number 1.
But if you want my GUESS, I think you'll also be okay if you choose Vivian. And, it is your FAVORITE. And it sounds to me as if your only hesitation is the commonness, and you're talking yourself out of that even without my help---though I can add my usual lines about how even if you name her something statistically VERY unlikely to be duplicated she can nevertheless end up with another in her class (like in my son's class, where there are three Noahs even though statistically for their year of birth there should be one Noah per eight classrooms), and how having a year or two of Vivian P. isn't the worst thing anyway (and maybe instead they could be Vivian and Vivi, or Vivi Rose and Vivi Louise, or some other solution).
Would it help at all to have a poll? Let's have one over to the right to see what everyone else thinks: go for the less-stable long-term-favorite? or the more-stable option? [Poll closed; see results below.]