Considering that Greta Gerwig’s Barbie just passed the billion-dollar mark at the box office, it’s safe to say that tons of people have seen it. The movie’s popularity has already extended to the world of baby names.
BabyNames.com told TMZ that searches for the name Barbie skyrocketed by 300 percent in July, while searches for Ken jumped 200 percent. The monikers are also appearing on some users’ lists of favorite names.
We’ll have to wait and see how many parents actually end up naming their babies Barbie. The doll’s presence has loomed so large over pop culture—and for so long—that it’s hard to imagine using the name in any other context (and saddling any child with Barbie’s legacy). That said, extremely specific fandom-inspired names like Marvel’s Loki have trended up in the past.
Ken is a slightly different story. While Ryan Gosling’s tour de force performance as Ken in the film has no doubt strengthened the name’s connection to Ken-the-doll, Ken doesn’t mean one thing in the same way that Barbie means one thing. As any Succession viewers reading this are probably thinking, Gosling’s Ken isn’t even the only fictional Ken to make headlines this year. Moreover, Ken can be short for Kenneth, Kendall, Kendrick, or Kennedy, among other names. (For the record, the doll’s full name is Kenneth, not Kenough.) Traditionally, Barbie has only ever really stood for Barbara.
Even a small uptick in kids named Barbie could count as a comeback for the moniker. The Social Security Administration uses SSN applications to track baby name stats, and you can see how the popularity of a given name has changed over time via this database. It only shows years in which the name charted in the top 1000—and the last year Barbie made that cut-off on the girls’ list was 1968. Before then, Barbie had charted every year since 1961; the doll debuted in 1959.
The last year Ken made the top 1000 boys’ names was 1995. The name had hit its peak position (177th place) back in 1960, though Ken dolls didn’t hit shelves until 1961. A salient reminder that Barbie has always set the trends, while Ken just follows them.