How many Ariels and Auroras do you know?
In case you’re thinking of naming your baby girl Elsa, know that she may not be the only one in her class. According to the British website BabyCentre, Frozen has popularized the name Elsa, and it has leapt onto the list of the 100 most popular baby names so far in 2014 – at No. 88.
While we have yet to see how the name catches on in the States, Frozen‘s popularity or Elsa’s status as a strong, powerful female character who also happens to look great in sparkly dresses – a win for progressive parents and princess-obsessed little girls alike – can’t hurt. The website NameTrends.net notes that last year, Elsa was the 528th most popular girl’s name, being given to only about one in roughly 34,000 children, and it hasn’t eked into the American top 100 list in the last century. This might be the Year of Elsa.
But does every Disney princess generate a wave of little girls named after her? Not necessarily, in spite of Disney’s marketing might. Here’s a look at how the princesses’ royal names have fared in the real world.
Before Disney’s The Little Mermaid hit theaters in late 1989, the name Ariel probably brought to mind the Shakespearean character or the Israeli politician Ariel Sharon. A fishtailed redhead changed that dramatically in the United States, where it shot up from the 210th most popular name in 1988 to the 66th most popular name in 1991. With one in every 500 little girls being named Ariel, that’s a lot of mermaids running around American playgrounds. Last year, nearly 25 years after The Little Mermaid hit theaters, it was still the 146th most popular female name.
With her kind heart and love of learning, you’d think that this princess would have become a popular namesake after the success of the 1991’s Beauty and the Beast. It did not, oddly. In fact, Belle has yet to become more popular than it was back in 1880, when it was the 90th most popular American girl’s name. It could be that Belle is getting clobbered by Bella, a name which has been consistently popular since 2001. Twilight mania gave Bella an extra boost, helping the name to its peak, No. 48, in 2010.
The name Jasmine had been climbing in popularity since 1985, and it hit its peak in 1993, when it was the 23rd most popular girl name. Disney’s Aladdin came out in November 1992. In fact, there was actually a dip in the name’s popularity in 1992. Perhaps Aladdin‘s leading lady helped correct that. Disney changed the name of the princess in story from what it was in the original tale: Badroulbadour, which has yet to make the American top 100 list.
The Princess and the Frog damsel can’t take credit for Tiana’s popularity. The name’s been slowly growing in popularity since 1950. It peaked in 1995, when it was the 267th most popular girl’s name. However, Princess Tiana can probably take credit for bringing it back: After a slump between 1998 and 2008, it shot up to the 334th most popular girl’s name in 2010, with roughly one in every 2,000 girls being dubbed Tiana just a year after The Princess and the Frog hit theaters.
Maybe it struck Americans as a little too adventurous in 1959, but the name of the Sleeping Beauty princess didn’t catch on when the film was initially released. The appeal finally dawned on American parents around 2000, however, and the name Aurora has been growing more popular ever since. It could be a coincidence, but 2000 was also the year when Disney began officially marketing the Disney Princess franchise. Last year, Aurora was the 145th most popular, with about one in every 1,000 girls receiving the name.
According to the Social Security Administration Records, most Americans have not met a little baby named Mulan, but that’s not to say this princess didn’t inspire a few parents. The Disney take on the Chinese legend was released in June 1998, and after having no record of any Mulans born in the U.S., there were 16 that year. In fact, the name was never more popular than in 2013, which saw 27 Mulans.
Snow White and Cinderella
We’re grouping these the two old school Disney princesses together for one reason: Neither Cinderella nor Snow White has ever been popular as a girl’s name in the United States. That’s probably because the names are inextricably associated with the respective characters. Naming your daughter Snow White would almost be like naming her Wonder Woman or Hello Kitty. At least Cinderella got a rock band named after her.
It’s perhaps for similar reasons that Pocahontas has failed to chart in the top 2000 names: the actual Pocahontas was a big enough deal she’s managed to own the name, even 400 years after she was alive. The 1995 release of Disney’s Pocahontas didn’t seem to affect the name’s popularity at all, though records show a few little girls born in the first half of the 1900s were named in Pocahontas’s honor.
The Social Security records only note one year in which a group of girls were named Rapunzel: 1959, when nine Rapunzels were born. And that’s it. The Mandy Moore-voiced princess couldn’t convince parents of the name’s appeal, it seems. Maybe parents just don’t want to name their kid after a variety of lettuce?
And finally, we have feisty Merida, whose name would have been unfamiliar to most Americans before the release of Brave in 2012. The name has not exactly caught on, with only 19 Meridas born in 2012 and 109 in 2013. Give it time.