Yes, the title says my name is “Judith, to you.” And it’s as arrogant as it sounds. That’s what happens when a giggley little girl is bestowed a heavy-weight name like Judith. Her name is shortened to “Judy” – and evokes images of pony-tails and poodle-skirts and bobby-socks, forever locked in the 40’s and 50’s as a squealing teenager. The other option is to use an appellation associated with British aristocracy and mothball monikers like Edith and Ardith and Lilith.
You need evidence, you say?
First and foremost is Judy Garland, teenage star of “Wizard of Oz” and adored for her movies with Mickey Rooney before she even neared age 20.
There’s “A Date with Judy” – a popular radio show, comic book and 1948 movie in which “hyperactive teenager Judy challenges and is challeged by her overly proper parents, pest of a brother Randolph and boyfriend Oogie.” Probably the true origination of Judy as the naive teenager in frothy skirts.
Then there are the Lesley Gore 1963 classics “It’s My Party” and “Judy’s Turn to Cry” – portraying the distress of a teenage girl at her birthday party when her boyfriend Johnny returns with Judy “wearing his ring” as his love interest, but then nameless girl kisses another guy which causes Johnny to jealously punch him and get back together with her. Total epitome of teenage angst.
And who could forget Judy Jetson of the 1962 cartoon – a stereotypic teenage girl whose prime interests include: clothes, going out, and revealing secrets to her digital diary. Platinum ponytail and pink, pink, pink.
With those images as the foreshadowing, I might as well tattoo “Aging Baby Boomer” on my bicep when I say my name is Judy. It’s number 879 out of 1000 names in popularity for 2010. Who are those 121 poor kids? I hope they are named for some Judy who can leave them an inheritance.
The second option is to go by Judith. As in Dame Judith Anderson. And other than her, I can’t think of any other Judith I knew in my childhood. As a child, being known as Judy along with everyone named Kathy and Debby and Betsy and Suzy was easier than wearing an archaic name that conveyed “seriously out of step with the times.” No one I knew had a name ending in “-ith” except a boy.
What does that have to do with being arrogant?
I had to choose. After passively going with “Judy” and never embracing it, I was faced with a moment in which I could choose. As I left one job and went into my next career, I envisioned the name on my new business cards and I wanted it to be powerful. Sophisticated. Educated. Adult. So I chose “Judith.”
To everyone who knew me as “Judy”, the change was quite confusing. I did not ask them to alter what they were comfortable calling me, But they were now confronted with new people who called me by a grown-up name. “Who the hell is Judith?” they would laugh – as if I was an imposter, trying to be academic rather than my usual clownish self. And the friends and co-workers après le changement scoffed “When were you known as Judy?” – as if they could never imagine I carried such a childish and frivolous name with my serious demeanor. So it feels arrogant to say “call me Judith” when someone lapses into the nickname. And yet – it is my name and I should be allowed to choose it.
Why use it as the title of a blog?
Because it’s time to own my name. To embrace it and be what it represents. To explore the archtype that goes with the name. To learn about the artwork inspired by the name. to be Shakespearean and wonder “What’s in a name?” To use it as a means of contemplation and expression.
And that’s about as heavy as I feel today. Time to find my poodle-skirt and put on a 45.