Thursday, 31 March 2016

"With my independence I thee wed"

The Queen's grand-daughter, Zara Phillips, has announced that she is finally becoming Mrs Mike Tindall.  After five years of marriage and one child, she has decided to leave her royal nomenclature behind.  Given that she is a successful women in her own right, it is particularly surprising news.  Her reasons aren't known, but it's an interesting decision and one that bucks the trend.
The numbers of brides keeping their maiden name is rising dramatically. According to research done by Facebook of their UK users, nearly 90% of the over sixties changed their name but that drops to only 62% in brides in their twenties. Perhaps this is not just a feminist act, but also a reflection of how much we now use our names as our personal brands as we increasingly curate and share our lives online. We've become masters of telling our own stories - with ourselves at the centre.  For those of us who changed names before Facebook came along - no problem.  But many of us use our names as our tags online, so if we've established a strong social presence with one name, the price of giving that up and confusing or losing your followers might be unacceptably high. 
When I tied the knot in 1990 the trend for keeping your own name was just gaining momentum.  When I told my then boss that I had got engaged, he asked me if I was planning to change my name.  I told him I was. Although I hadn't gone as far as practising my new signature, it had never seriously occurred to me not to change my name.  As luck would have it, my passport was due to run out just before our planned honeymoon so it seemed as though the fates were conspiring to encourage me to head into married life with a shiny new name to match my new passport. Keeping one name for work and another for everything else seemed complicated and likely to cause major confusion.  Horrified, he said I was betraying the sisterhood and giving up my hard won independence.   I was taken aback but went ahead and changed my name anyway.  Today I might have double -barrelled - Greenway-Costerton/Costerton-Greenway? Or even meshed - Costerway? Greenton? Is that really any less complicated?
Perhaps it just depend how silly it sounds.  Shawn Knowles-Carter (Mr Beyonce) sounds pretty good.  But although I love both Chris O' Dowd and Dawn Porter, I still haven't got used to Dawn O Porter.