“Is that your real name?”
“Who names their kid Princess?”
“Were your parents drunk or high when they had you?”
These are actually some of the reactions I’ve received from people when I introduce myself. I’ve gotten used to it over the years. What else do you expect when your name is Princess?
At 22, I can honestly say I love my name, but that wasn’t always the case. As a child, I desperately wanted to change my name to Kaitlyn. I thought Kaitlyn would make me normal and stop the harassment -- today they call it bullying -- that I experienced on an-almost-daily basis.
Like any other kid, I had my share of nicknames, including Tootie, Toot (short for Tootie), Princey, Pumpkin and Peaches. As cute as those nicknames were, I wouldn’t want anyone else to call me Tootie, Pumpkin or Peaches because well, it’s a family thing. And it would’ve been strange to start demanding my classmates to call me Kaitlyn all of a sudden, so I asked one of the teachers at my elementary school to call me by my middle name Lauren. His response was, “I’m going to call you Princess because that’s your name.”
I didn’t get it.
I wasn’t angry -- just a bit confused since I thought it was a simple request. Looking back, I’m glad he said no because it made me realize that I can’t hide from my name forever, so I might as well embrace it along with everything else that’s unique about me.
Now don’t get me wrong; no one ever said being a Princess was easy. And while I’ve never been one to carry myself in a way that’s arrogant or conceited, it doesn’t seem to stop those who know absolutely nothing about me from giving me the side eye, or making preconceived notions about me based on my name.
Too often, people assume I’m a spoiled little bitch who feels entitled to everything, which is false. Having said that, I do try to carry myself in a way that lives up to my name, whether it’s being extra nice to the people I encounter on a daily basis, or looking my best whenever I leave the house because if I don’t, the first thing folks will say is, “Her name is Princess, but she doesn’t look like one.”
Here’s a little more food for thought: When you do your best, people tend to remember you, right? Well, when you have an unusual name like I do and you make one little mistake, people really remember you. I mean, there are thousands of Lindsays and Ashleys out there, but how many Princesses do you know?
Actually, now that I think about it, I recently came into contact with another Princess while calling to schedule an appointment. It was the receptionist, but she went by her middle name instead, which I don’t recall. When I asked why, she responded, “I was teased so badly growing up.” She then asked me, “Do you still go by Princess?” I answered yes. She seemed a little taken aback, because she paused and said, “Really? Good for you.”
Our conversation ended shortly after that, but I felt so bad for her. There was so much sadness in this woman’s voice. I mean, I definitely understood where she was coming from -- and the fact that she felt like she had to change hers to please others was heartbreaking to me.
Sure, I’ve heard and seen my share of negative comments about my name, but with the love and support of my parents, I realized early on that people will always have something to say about you, whether it’s positive or negative. And that’s fine. Believe me, having the name Princess for 22 years makes you incredibly thick-skinned.
While I can’t deny that being named Princess has its pros and cons, I also wouldn’t change it for anything. It’s a huge part of my identity. And it’s not my problem if that makes anyone feel uncomfortable or inferior. I think I speak for many folks with uncommon names when I say this: “Yes I have an unusual name. GET OVER IT!”
Oh, and for the record, my mom and dad were NOT drunk or high when I was born. There’s actually an interesting story behind my name. My mom is African American and my dad is Middle Eastern (Arabic and Chaldean). My mom knew she would name her first daughter Princess since back in the day when she was watching a talk show (she doesn't remember which one) and there were two sisters on, and one was named Princess and she thought, "Oh, that's a beautiful name. I'm going to name my first daughter Princess." Then when she married my dad 25 years ago, it took on new meaning because among the most common Arabic names is Amira, which actually means Princess when it's translated into English.
Bottom line is this: My name is my name -- if you like it, great. If you don’t, well, frankly, I don’t care. And whenever I start to have doubts about it, I just remember what my elementary teacher told me: “I’m going to call you Princess because that’s your name.”