Thanks to the toy aisle at Target, my five year old has discovered Monster High.
I’ve noticed them before, and I’ll admit that goth-meets-Barbie is a winning combination in my book. Had MH existed when I was doll-aged, something tells me I would have been obsessed.
The concept is simple: monsters were once teenagers, too, and the MH characters are related to some of the most famous creatures to ever haunt a horror film: think Dracula and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Others are more generic scaries, like werewolves and ghosts.
Now layer on all the trappings of high school, but with a twist. The cheerleading squad is the fearleading squad. The ghouls read Teen Scream magazine. There’s Home Ick class, too.
Originally, it was just the dolls and their webisodes. Then came television specials and video games. Oh, and merchandise. Even if you can’t identify the dolls, the skull with eyelashes and a hot pink bow – the official Monsters High symbol – might be familiar.
But what really has me curious are the Monster High names. They’re a little bit daring, pretty solidly out of the mainstream. And yet the girls who are playing with Monster High now will grow up to name children of their own.
Will the fictional ghouls have any impact on future baby names? Let’s take a look.
Cleo – Cleo de Nile is the mummy’s daughter, the little sister to Nefera, and one of the series’ main ghoulfriends. Call me biased – my daughter is Clio – but I keep waiting for this name to make a comeback. She had a good run in the 1920s and 30s, and now, with Chloe so much in favor, Cleo seems like a logical evolution.
Blue – The character’s name is Lagoona Blue, but it is Blue that has me interested. She’s the daughter of the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and, naturally, a member of the swim team. Ever since Beyonce borrowed this color for her daughter’s name, I’ve been noticing it in the middle spot more and more often. Is Blue the new Rose?
Frankie – Yes, her last name is Stein. But what’s not to like about boyish Frankie, a logical short form for many an attractive classic, from tailored Frances to Italianate Francesca to the throwback Francine.
Claudine – Why are the Claud- names still in style limbo? The werewolf’s daughter is Clawdeen, and has a sister called Clawdia. (And another named Howleen, but I think that’s a non-starter.) Trade claw for clau and names like Claudia, Claudette, and yes, Claudine, seem like strong, enduring choices for a daughter. Claudette brings to mind Hollywood’s Claudette Colbert, and Claudia makes me think of supermodel – and great baby namer – Schiffer. Both make for positive, even glamorous, associations.
Abbey – This one might be the least influential of all the MH characters, if only because it is hard to imagine Abigail rising any higher. As independent given names, Abby and Abbey are also waning. Still, the Yeti’s daughter wears a very current name, and I hate to leave her off this list.
Toralei – Toralei is a werecat, something of a troublemaker, and a name that has yet to register beyond the MH universe. And yet, I thought she deserved a mention. Tacking -lynn and -lee onto existing names remains a favorite form of appellation innovation nowadays, and with vintage choices like Coralie and Rosalie in vogue, I can imagine nouveau coinages like Toralee catching on.
Catrine – See what I mean about the werecats? The trouble with Catrine is that she rhymes with, well, latrine. But she’s a legitimate international variant of Katherine and company. As Kaitlyn loses steam, it is tempting to consider what other forms of this enduring name might work.
Persephone – Just like the werewolf girls, the werecats’ names have some respelling issues. The character is not Persephone – she’s Purrsephone. But this is one that I expect to follow Phoebe, Penelope, and other ends-with-e Greek names for girls up the popularity charts.
Venus – This one made me laugh out loud – Venus is the daughter of a plant monster. (Think Venus Flytrap.) Name your daughter Venus in 2013, and most will guess that you were inspired by the tennis star, not the goddess – and definitely not a minor character in this franchise. But as Venus Williams’ long career continues, this name begins to sound more and more like a wearable possibility for a daughter.
Gigi – One of my favorite diminutives, though I think she’s a bit too flimsy to use as a given name. In the series, she’s the daughter of a genie.
Twyla – Let’s end with the name that inspired this post. Twyla is the daughter of the Boogie Man, and a night-time specific name that seems terribly interesting in 2013. There’s the reference to night, the legendary dancer, and unusual sound.
Other characters’ names don’t work as well in real life: Ghoulia and Draculaura come to mind. But I’m equally intrigued by a spin-off series of dolls and webisodes premiering now, called Ever After High. The EA girls are the daughters of fairytale characters, and their names are equally rich with potential: Apple, Briar, Raven, Cerise, Cedar – she’s Pinocchio’s daughter – Holly and Poppy, the children of Rapunzel – plus Duchess Swan, the daughter of the Swan Queen from Swan Lake. Duchess strikes me as an indulgent given name, but Swan fascinates me.
Would you ever consider any of the names on this list? Did the dolls you played with as a child inform the names you prefer as an adult? Can you see any of these names catching on?