The top 100 baby names of 2016 have just been revealed, showing a clear rise in gender-neutral names. And it seems the celebrity world is having an influence on the trend, as stars including Blake Lively, Mark Zuckerberg, Kristen Bell and Leighton Meester choose to break with gender traditions. Some of the names that have crept into the top 100 immediately remind us of celebrity children.
David and Victoria Beckham's daughter Harper has seen the biggest rise in popularity. In 2011, the year Harper was born, 42 other girls were given the same name. Fast forward to 2016 and Harper is the 44th most popular girls' name, given to 1,256 babies. There were also 45 baby boys named Harper in 2016, reflecting the gender-neutral trend.
"A well-liked celebrity giving their child a particular name often leads to a spike in that name's popularity," said Christian Turner
Christian Turner, global naming director at Siegel+Gale, said: "One point that has always been true of names is that exposure and association is linked to popularity. A well-liked celebrity giving their child a particular name often leads to a spike in that name's popularity, as we see with Harper (David and Victoria Beckham) and, of course, both Princess Charlotte and Prince George." George was the third most popular boys' name last year, while Charlotte ranked 12th.
Blake and James are both popular gender-neutral names
Christian also noted other celebrities breaking with gender traditions. "Blake Lively has a daughter called James, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg recently named his new daughter August, and Leighton Meester and Adam Brody's little girl is Arlo," he said. Arlo, August and James are all traditionally boys' names.
One of the most obvious examples of gender-neutral celebrity names is Blake, after actress Blake Lively. More and more girls are being called Blake, but according to the list of popular boys' names, Blake continues to be more common among boys. In 2016, it ranked 73rd with 893 baby boys called Blake, and only 51 baby girls taking the name.
Mark Zuckerberg's daughter is called August, traditionally a boys' name
Christian concluded: "Another area that might see some growth led by celebrity is the use of gender fluid surnames as first names, such as Lincoln (Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard's daughter) and Parker (Frankie Sandford and Wayne Bridge's son). In any case we can imagine that gender neutral names will gain a new relevance in the future as we approach true gender equality. Gender neutral names may feel progressive, inclusive and confident in the workplace."