Is This Name Too Silly for a Blond?
- Wanting an Emerald
Much like the gemstone it refers to, Esmeralda is a bold, elegant name—a little bit flashy, yet strong beneath that dazzling surface. No wonder it caught the eye of 19th-century parents after novelist Victor Hugo bestowed it on his heroine in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The name sounded entrancingly exotic in a sea of Annes and Elizabeths, and has been used in English-speaking countries since. It's a romantic alternative to mild-mannered antiques like Emma and Lillian .
That exotic sound may be part of what attracts you to this name, as well as what turns you away from it. For while the things we describe as "exotic" can entrance us, the word can also suggest "foreign, different, not-like-me."
In the past generation Esmeralda has been a fashionable choice among Mexican-American families. At its late 1990s peak, the name ranked as high as the top 50 in border states. So there certainly is a chance, particularly if you live in a region with a large Mexican-American population, that strangers may assume a little Esmeralda has Mexican heritage.
My question is why your concerned friends think this assumption—easily corrected if ever expressed—would necessarily be a problem. The notion that a Spanish name "looks silly" on a blond girl is a little hard to swallow. There are plenty of Spanish-speaking blonds, and plenty of Spanish girls' names (Isabel, Dolores) that have become global favorites.
Are they worried your daughter might face discrimination due to a perceived Mexican background? Or are they rather promoting this discrimination by suggesting that being taken for Mexican, even for a moment, is a negative? Or could they simply be coming up with excuses for rejecting a name they don't happen to like? Since their criticism is troubling you, you might go back to them for an honest conversation.
I also recommend that you reconnect with your reasons for loving the name Esmeralda. You probably knew, and liked, that it was a Spanish name popularized by a French novel, so it doesn't make sense to treat that global style as a negative now. Names cross cultural borders all the time. (Are all the Natashas you know Russian, and all the Seans Irish?) If you follow your heart to this name, I think your daughter will be just fine.