Privilege Blog

Living Beyond Archetypes, My Name Is.

You all are great commenters. I swear I wander through my day sometimes with your imaginary voices in my head. Embarrassing, yes. At least I don’t talk to you out loud. Just to myself. Which is bad enough. I did that in the supermarket the other day, mentioning how hard it was to find the right beans, I believe, and from the surprised sideways glance of the woman behind me I could tell I was one step from scary. The fact that I had reverted to wearing my son’s khakis might have contributed to the problem. What? It is hard to find the right beans.

Your recent set of comments on the Little Black Dress got me thinking. a) These archetypes are only some of many. They are High WASP archetypes and do not aspire to world domination in any way. Actually they are very polite and hope they don’t offend you even if you do have wallpaper they can’t approve of. b) These archetypes overlap. Hence the diagram above. I believe I’m Sturdy Gal x Grande Dame. I do realize that this puts me in the Queen Elizabeth camp, but let’s just pretend that one of the Queen’s cousins liked to talk. I’ll pay extra attention to my haircuts, just in case.

I love the way people identify themselves. Julia, from Ordinary Saturdays, said “Sturdy Gals can wear leopard? Sign me up.” Darla and Jan chimed in as Sturdy Gals, known to Duchesse‘s ex as, “Jennifer Cleanjerseys.” Jill says she’s artsy. Surprising no one, since she’s the Goddess of Caftans. Mrs. G and Amanda claim the Grande Dame, while Academic, Hopeful and DocP, anticipating the diagram above, raise Artsy Dame hands.

Slynnro, JMW, Maureen, The Preppy Princess, Queen Bee Swain, and the Queen of Cashmere weighed in, (no surprise to see Princesses and Queens) either professing love for LBDs, or pointing out real issues with the ones I had bought. Sometimes both. Jill, Duchesse, f8hasit, and Academic, Hopeful all suggested places to buy LBDs (or little plum dresses in f8’s case), which Deja Pseu, Joyce Lau, Twenty Four at Heart, Maya, What A Splurge, Sharpiegirl, Cate Subrosa, the class factotum, Her Preppiness, and Turquoise Diaries might enjoy. Me too.

Sweet Tea
, Kristen, and Queen Bee want more stories. (Maria wants to know what the archetypes drink. A woman after my own heart.) OK. There are more stories. That’s what happens when you like to talk. And are starting your 5th decade. Of course, by you I mean me. With any luck, by me, I also mean you.

Identifying ourselves, making meaning in the sheer fact that our eyes open most mornings, is what makes us human. It is also what makes some of us buy way too many cashmere cardigans in the wrong colors. And then, with a sigh, consigning ourselves to the world of pink and navy, give those sweaters to our sisters. Who look much better in seafoam green than we do. Without the crutch of pink lipstick.

BTW, my name is Lisa. Seemed like time. Names, like archetypes, like Little Black Dresses, are ways to know who we are or are not. There’s a chart here that shows how prevalent your name was when you were born. And the Social Security Administration can tell you the top names from your year of birth. Yes, I was born in 1956. But it’s OK, I have found, to have a popular name. Turns out they don’t make us stay in the same classroom all our lives. If my mom had known what I knew at 16, clearly she would have named me Skye. Then all bets would have been off.

32 Responses

  1. In case you were wondering, the right beans are in Aisle 5 halfway down on the second to top shelf…

    Did you get comments about your commentary that people found offensive? I find THAT offensive!
    Please don't apologize for what you write. Lisa, WE enjoy what you put out there for us. If someone doesn't like it, go somewhere else.

    But that is human nature.
    We can't please everyone. But don't change anything, for anyone…unless it was YOUR choice to do so.

    I will now get off my soapbox.
    I needed it to reach the beans.

    {love ya'}

  2. Baby steps, Lisa. You have taken your first. I've yet to hit that milestone.

    (I am pretty sure that my name has never been and will never be in the top names list. I don't know of, let alone meet, anyone with the same English name as mine. I was apparently almost a Joanna, though –a popular choice during the year I was born, evidenced by the number of Joanna's I know in school. But my dad vetoed it.)

  3. Not a soul listed here was offended or said anything offensive. Usually anyone doing that sort of thing posts anonymously. And hello to everyone too.

  4. I tend to fall square in the middle of the Venn Diagram, but find I am inching farther and farther away from Arty Cousin territory. Such is life.

    I was named Heather, like every third girlchild in the mid-1970s. I tend to believe that my mother was influenced by the oh-so-famous McCartney girlchild of the era, but she vehemently denies it.

  5. I don't like ANY kind of wall paper, but I don't ever tell anyone that when in their home.

    Lisa is a GOOD name; not much chance of it being misspelled (having my name spelled J-A-N-I-S was the bane of my existence for many years).

    Any idea who might fit into that tiny little lap-over of all the archetypes?

  6. Could I possibly shift the Sturdy Gal/ Grande Dame much closer and drop the Artsy cousin down a bit-unless having several conterbalances that! Love your take on the world!

  7. Lisa, it's a pleasure to meet you.

    Additionally, there's substantial benefit to having your first name (in my case, Amanda) hit its peak of popularity well after you were born. People automatically assume you're younger than your years. Thanks Mom.

  8. This is such a great post. Just as I thought…I checked my birth year, 1973, and I do carry the most popular name of that year. Which explains why there was always another Jennifer in my class, or 10+ when I got to high school. But, in the business world, I've always been the only one in my department. Hmm…where did they all after we graduated from college?

  9. both of my parents had a sibling named Patsy – what are the odds? all I wanted was a nice name like Lisa. oh well, I think (hope) I've adjusted.

  10. ah ha! I've always thought there must be a realm where Sturdy (aka Outdoorsy) Gals overlap with Artsy Cousins (as the Connecticut relatives see me), and indeed, I am a Professor, exotic scarves, dangly earrings and all. Nice diagram and explication.

  11. So I checked two things… First of all, I am obviously a sturdy gal mixed with the artsy cousin… And on top of that I want to be a professor, weird!
    Second of all… I checked my birth year and my name :| My name (Lucy) was most popular in the 1880's. Joy. #49… And my birth year? 463, but we're moving back up!
    Oh and most people, when I'm on the phone with them confuse my name with Lisa or Lacy!

  12. Very nice to meet you Lisa. Love the overlap chart. After a day on the sofa, with a box of Kleenex by my side, I am about to head out to the grocery store with less than clean hair and not a hint of an Ivory soap smell. Thanks for the mention. Fun post.

  13. Well hello everyone. I feel like now we should have a party. And I like the names Patsy, and Lucy. Not usual. Jan – imagine that I even get asked how do you spell Lisa. I keep wanting to say, um, like Lisa?

  14. Lisa! Here I was thinking of you as Laura (or perhaps Lauren; I will adjust. My middle name is Gertrude, my mother's two best friends' names. Imagine going through 50 years of that. Now I have grown into it. The old names are coming back: Maude, Emma, Evelyn, Eleanor, Afton, Frances.

  15. Hmmm. I'm a professor and used to buy a delicious Sarah Bernhardt pastry every so often when I lived in Toronto. So I'm happy with my spot on your Venn diagram.

  16. Definitely an arty cousin here. Only other direction I slightly head over to is the Sturdy Gal, but not much. What is interesting to me is how uncomfortable the other choices feel for me, yet how right they are for other people I know.

    BTW, the Grande Dame feels like a foreign country to me. ;-)

  17. We should absolutely have a party. Lisa, just today I wore a borrowed leopard print cardigan over my sturdy wool sheath dress. But I was thinking, is there some kind of frivolous offshoot between Grand Dame and Sturdy Gal that isn't so… grand? I'm not entirely sturdy, but I haven't grown into Grand Dame just yet. Someday.

  18. Lisa this is amazing to me….I feel like I am eavesdropping! There is a serious party going on and I am late to the party…sturdy gal in cashmere, grey…once asked if I impersonated the Queen (OMG! at 50 something!) while wearing same sweater…maybe my sister would look better in it? BTW the queen is my mother's age!
    Can someone pass the bean dip?

  19. What a fun post! Maureen even in its hey-day in the 50's never made the top 100, which I've always liked about it. But Lisa is one of my favorite names. It's the name of my main character in my (as yet…) unpublished woman's novel.

  20. I cannot wait to see what else you have in-store for us Skye :) fabulous post per the norm!



  21. You are soooo funny! And it is true. I know write blogs and I go through my day. And I've officially learned blog as a second language as I had a dream the other night that I was blogging. Well we just love it right? xoxo


  22. "Lisa" is my middle name. I was named after my two great-grandmothers, Anne and Elizabeth. My first name takes the form of a popular Mouseketeer/beach movie actress who later became an ambassador. It is very rare that I meet another American with my first name.

    I love the Venn diagram and I, too, want to know the name at all the intersections.

    PS My grandmother was supposed to be "Evangeline," but right before she was born, there was a high-profile murder case of an Evangeline, so her parents changed to "Sylvia," which is a far more appropriate name for a cigarette-smoking, beer-drinking, red-lipsticked, card-playing, National-Enquirer-reading dame.

  23. Everyone here now or ever in the future should assume, with impunity, that they have been invited. The invitation had a gold bumblebee on it. I do not know, at this moment, who might be in the center. Except that any one of us could be, perhaps, had we money, time, intent. Perhaps someone has a suggestion?

  24. I am afraid the peak year of popularity for my name was 1963. Even then it wasn't in the top 25. I was born in the 80s. SIGH.

  25. The gold bumblebee is a lovely symbol. (My daughter has a vintage gold bumblebee brooch set with rubies) The bee symbol is feminine, social, powerful, and if fortunate by right of birth to be a queen, well now that is divine privilege…I think LPC is at the centre of the hive!

  26. The peak popularity for my name in the U.S. seems to be in the 1930s and 40s.

    Some Hong Kong Chinese tend to use really old English names, like Macy, Clement, Benedict, Francis, Agnes, Edley, Shirley. These are all names from relatives or close friends.

  27. HI LISA! :)

    I was named after The Four Season's song Sherry.
    There were too many of us in school during that era.

  28. If it makes you feel any better, I sometimes go throughout my day with your voice in my head. I step back from my 100mph life and observe it in your voice…while tiptoeing backwards to the door, trying to escape. Lisa is a nice name. My name is Simone…very french and sexy…like I was eons ago (sexy…not french)

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