Jasmine, Ariel and Aurora have all been popular picks for girls. And Belle is quite the sensation. So why is this fairytale princess name off limits?
Thanks to Photoquilty for suggesting Cinderella as Name of the Day.
Besides the success of other Disney names, there are more reasons to think that Cinderella might’ve leapt from the big screen to the nursery years ago. Consider:
- Her -ella ending makes her a potential substitute for white hot choices like Isabella and Gabriella;
- Cindy names have also been favorites over the years – Cynthia was a Top Ten choice in the 1950s and 60s; there’s the antique Lucinda, too.
The Victorians ransacked history and literature, legend and myth, as well as the natural world for inspiration. And indeed, some parents did settle on Cinderella. While the name has never appeared in the US Top 1000, there are Cinderellas found in US Census records – more than a few.
The Cinderella story appears in folk tales throughout history and all over the globe. The earliest telling is a first century BC tale recorded by Greek historian Strabo. (His Cinderella was known as Rhodopis, a Greek slave in Egypt who eventually marries the Pharaoh.) The Italian writer Giambattista Basile called her Cenerentola in the 1600s; a few decades later, French author Charles Perrault called her Cendrillon. Both the Italian and French appellations refer to the words cinder, ashes or hearth. When Robert Sambler translated Perrault’s tale into English in 1729, he came up with Cinderella.
She’s inspired adaptations ever since. From opera to ballet to pop music (Britney Spears and the Cheetah Girls have recorded songs titled Cinderella) to the children’s jump rope song (Cinderella, dressed in yellow …) to the glam metal band from the 80s, there’s a musical twist to this story. And well before Cinderella was part of the Disney princess mafia, she was on the big screen in France as early as 1899. Silent film star Florence la Badie starred in Hollywood’s first adaptation in 1911. South American adaptations sometimes call her Floribella; the book and movie Ella Enchanted are loosely based on the story, too. Hilary Duff starred in 2004’s A Cinderella Story, but answered to Samantha.
So she’s beloved, but little used. Could a nineteenth charity offer up the reason?
In the late 1800s, the Cinderella Movement encouraged the British middle class to meet the needs of poor children. Called “Cinderella Clubs,” they provided basics like food, as well as special holiday celebrations and trips. One club still remains active today. I can’t confirm how widespread the movement became at its height, but it seems widespread enough to be one possible explanation. No matter how intrepid a babynamer, you probably wouldn’t borrow the name of a children’s charity for your daughter.
Whether the Cinderella Clubs put the kabosh on the name or not, the bottom line is this – while every other one of the Disney princesses feels like fair game, Cinderella seems over the top. There are many other feminissa appellations to consider for your darling daughter.