The Burden of a Name

Growing up, I was never very happy with the first name Marie.

For one thing, I was the only one who had it, and in elementary school, anything that sets you apart is risky. And anyway, everyone wanted to call me Maria, which was worse than having a ‘weird’ name (because it wasn’t even the right name, and sounds entirely different—although only when your name is Marie, apparently).

Marie Curie

Marie Curie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s grown on me since, and I like how it suits me: a little old-fashioned, a little different. Knowing approximately 20% of the female population seems to have it as a middle name is somewhat aggravating, however. It works so so well for me, why doesn’t everyone want it?

One of my main complaints growing up with the name Marie was its history. Notable figures named Marie: Marie Antoinette (reviled throughout history and had her head cut off and especially the obnoxious way she’s glorified by pop culture) and Marie Curie (who poisoned herself with radiation, whatever she did for science).  I like knowing about science in the general sense, but I’ve never particularly wanted to practice it, and so what did I have to look up to.

On a whim I looked  up the name Marie in, which is probably my favorite name site (for fiction purposes).

Name ratings for Marie

I rather like those stats. And while some of the comments on the website were positively mean:

“Marie sounds nice and I was planning on using it as a middle name for my daughter. I’m so glad I looked up the meaning first! It means “Bitterness” “Sea of Bitterness” and “Rebellious”. For me that’s a deal breaker of massive proportions. So I warn all who plan on using this name: ABSOLUTELY HORRID MEANING!”

Well fortunately, other commentators mentioned that that isn’t necessarily its meaning, but quite frankly that seems rather vitriolic (and maybe, to be judgmental, simplistic) or just a name.

Isabella Teotochi Marini

Isabella Teotochi Marini (Photo credit: Maia C)

And then many of the commentators linked me to other famous Maries: unfortunately one of my favorites gave up the Marie: Vigée Le Brun, the 18th century artist who started out as Marie Louise, which admittedly, is a little less distinctive, but I didn’t even know she’d at least been born a Marie. That may have even been inspiring to an inspiring artist. And she was a favorite portraitist of Marie Antoinette.

And aside from the two most famous Maries, a scientist and an unfortunate queen (maybe Madeleine Albright, the first female Secretary of State, but no one knows recent history of politics or reality, and she gave up the name Marie), there were a few Marie artists, like Marie de France, a medieval poet. And considering medieval times, being a famous female poet isn’t bad. There’s also Marie Wittich, apparently a well-known German opera singer, but I know little about the comparative fame of any opera singers.

Marie Lloyd

Marie Lloyd (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I do like opera casually, though, so I’ll take her. Slightly less related, but both a Marie and a Medici, Marie de’ Medici was queen of France and disliked by whoever wrote her Wikipedia article, but she supported the arts. And finally, there’s Marie Lloyd, whose name wasn’t actually Marie, but was a popular music hall singer turn of the (20th) century who showed great skill in innuendo and was refused entry into the US for “moral turpitude”, which I find rather fantastic, so I’ll take her too.

And this how the German’s pronounce it, just because,

As for my lack of interest in Marie Curie growing up, I’ve heard about a couple new biographies recently, so we’ll see how that goes.


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