You heard the rumors. You wondered if they could be true. You speculated with friends, both real and virtual, hoping that the suspense would finally come to an end.
Well, the wait is over. Ryan Reynolds, a human man/actor/MAC counter employee lookalike, has confirmed on Today that the baby delivered some months ago by his wife Blake Lively, a complicated, lab-grown humanoid/Skipper doll hybrid is named … James.
What on Earth, you might ask, is such a big deal about that? What about the name “James” required months of subterfuge, of carrying the baby around wrapped in a towel like it was a casserole dish being transported to your aunt’s house, of deflecting normal human questions that people—even people who are not reporters—ask each other, like: “Oh! You had a baby? What’s its name?”
Well, I’ll tell you: James—at least until James is old enough to make James’s own nuanced decisions about gender identity—is a girl. James is a girl named James.
And look, I guess you can kind of understand it from a woman named Blake—and I’ve known girls named Ryan too (not very many of them, but enough). The feminized version, Jamie—and with apologies to all the female Jamies I’ve known and loved—is a little bit dated. Like Kimberly and Kelly and Melissa it is very much of its time and makes it possible for anyone who meets you to make a good guess about how old you are.
But James? If you’re going to give your daughter a boy’s name, why not be creative about it? Why give her the most boring of typically male names? Why not make it a challenge? What about Horatio? Or Hannibal? “Hello, I’m Blake Lively, and this is my adorable daughter Agamemnon.” If you’re going to confound expectations, then go ahead and confound them.
You know who would never name her kid James? Gwyneth Paltrow. When Gwyneth Paltrow had her babies, she named them after a fruit and a prophet. Those are names that make you think beyond, “Oh, here are some parents who are pretty freaking impressed with themselves.” They make you think, “Oh, here are some parents who are pretty impressed with themselves, but also have a smidgen of creativity (and also, are extremely confident their children will never have to mingle with anybody named, like, Amber”).
Because Gwyneth Paltrow, who is also blonde, and whose legendary lifestyle blog GOOP is clearly what Blake Lively is trying to emulate with her lifestyle blog, Preserve—the difference is that while Gwyneth wants you to whip up your quinoa-encrusted fried chicken in a pair of badass $3,000 Balenciaga stretch-leather pants, Blake wants you to make jam, wearing something you got from the sale rack at Anthropologie—is the real thing. Lively’s a photocopy, unwilling to own her obnoxious craziness and then to have the chutzpah to go on CNN Money and talk about how she’s “very close to the common woman.” Blake doesn’t tell us she’s common. We know it.