In some cases, this commenting may come from institutional sources like church or state. Supposedly, at one time priests would not baptize a child for not having a saint's name. However, before we can have a Saint Heather, we have to have an especially good girl named Heather. My Mom had no difficulty with getting an older sister baptized despite the lack of Saint Heathers, for example.
But even more commonly different countries have lists of approved or unapproved names. For example, in Argentina, a baby must be given the proper Spanish name form: José instead of Joseph, Pedro instead of Peter, and so on. Jerome is not cool there; but Geronimo is. Maybe he can have a career as a paratrooper! In Mexico you cannot name a baby Yahoo, Batman, Apple, Pooh Bear or other names that might expose a child to ridicule. And, perhaps surprisingly, you cannot begin a name with a "C" in Iceland since there is no letter C in the Icelandic language. So, forget about Charlene, Caroline, Charlie, and Catherine, not to mention Cialis!
I will say that my first name has occasionally led to barbs, as for example when I was in the MSN group Losers I posted mine on a "My real name is _______" thread. It was met with "are you serious" and humor. Fortunately, I was used to it after 15 years or so. Teachers and other authority figures could not resist commenting on my lack of angelic behavior at times; so much for name-generated expectations!
Among the more common names, some have age, social class, religious, or regional markers. There are few babies yclept Elmer nowadays, probably thanks to Warner Bros. Likewise for Farrah or Ralph. A male named Aloysius is surely Catholic; and somehow, we expect the parents of Zipporah to be Fundamentalists.
These are the most common names recently given one year in California; with their frequency:
MOST POPULAR BABY NAMES — CALIFORNIA
|Jacob (2955)||1||Sophia (3617)|
|Jayden (2852)||2||Isabella (3087)|
|Daniel (2662)||3||Emma (2429)|
|Ethan (2661)||4||Emily (2409)|
|Matthew (2627)||5||Mia (2311)|
|Noah (2496)||6||Olivia (1892)|
|Anthony (2411)||7||Sofia (1671)|
|Alexander (2408)||8||Abigail (1635)|
|Nathan (2227)||9||Samantha (1444)|
|David (2139)||10||Camila (1409)|
|Andrew (2129)||11||Ava (1402)|
|Aiden (1990)||12||Victoria (1299)|
|Michael (1986)||13||Natalie (1287)|
|Angel (1922)||14||Chloe (1091)|
|Isaac (1845)||15||Elizabeth (1087)|
|Julian (1845)||16||Evelyn (1037)|
|Mason (1825)||17||Genesis (1033)|
|Adrian (1784)||18||Ashley (998)|
|Jonathan (1721)||19||Madison (988)|
|Christopher (1717)||20||Zoe (982)|
Research on names suggests that most people are happy with or accepting of their names. Those who are less so can opt to use their middle names, or change them. One disaffected political candidate in Louisiana petitioned to name himself "None of the Above." It was disallowed; anyway, candidates in the primaries are listed in alphabetical form.
Some Native American tribes allow for members to assume a new name upon reaching maturity. I guess for some people who wind up with unpleasant names, or who just want a change, we could do that too.
I think I'll stick with Angel, even if they expect me to be a guy in California!