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Why no one calls their baby Jessica anymore.

Jessica, we are officially over you. Sorry.

It happened so fast. Not all that long ago, Jessica was Australia’s most popular name for girls. And why not? A beautiful, classical name, with Jessie and Jess as built-in shortforms. There were so many Jessicas out there for parents to be inspired by. Surely everyone admired either Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote or Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.

From 1984 to 2001, Jessica topped the popularity charts every year but two. It was an era that saw the birth of singer Jessica Mauboy, model Jessica Gomes and Jess Origliasso from The Veronicas.

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By the mid-1990s, one in every 30 girls born in Australia was being called Jessica. That’s why practically every class in every school in Australia had a Jessica for a while there. You could almost call the Millennials “Generation Jessica”, if they didn’t already have a perfectly good name.

And then came the downward slide. Post-2001, Jessica fell from grace. (Grace, on the other hand, rose.) In 2018, just 17 years after Jessica topped the charts, the name dropped out of the national top 100, according to the McCrindle Baby Name Report.

In fact, in South Australia, Jessica is already out of the top 300. Jessica was used just four times in SA last year, making it equally as popular as Juniper, Paisley and Henley.

“It’s pretty crazy how popular Jessica was,” Kim Linco, social researcher with McCrindle, tells Mamamia. “Even just in my own experience, I know so many girls my age called Jessica. And this year it didn’t even make it into the top 100, which is just insane.”

Sure, all names lose popularity, but Jessica has plummeted in a particularly spectacular way. Other names popular at the same time, like Emma and Sarah, are doing a slow fade. In fact, Emma is still at number 29 nationally.

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Some names stand the test of time... others do not. Image: Getty.
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So why did everyone go cold on Jessica so quickly? Linco thinks it’s because today’s parents have a bigger “drive for uniqueness”. Because Jessica was so ridiculously popular for so long, people have gone right off it.

“It’s like this really intense popularity has actually been, perhaps, the cause of its own demise,” she tells Mamamia.

A similar thing has happened in America, where Jessica was the Jennifer of the 1980s and 1990s – the most popular name of the era. Recent figures have it sitting in 248th spot.

But could there be another reason why Jessica has fallen so far so fast?

The US website Behind The Name has hundreds of people giving their thoughts on the name Jessica. Apart from numerous people complaining that it’s too common, there are a couple of stereotypes about the name that seem to pop up a lot: blonde and... well, not the brightest. “Ditsy” and “airhead” are among some of the adjectives tossed around.

“My name is Jessica and people have always thought I was intelligent,” writes one Jessica, defensively. “I don’t fit the media’s depiction of the name.”

Could this possibly have something to do with the highest-profile Jessica of the 2000s, Jessica Simpson, of Newlyweds: Nick And Jessica fame, who notoriously puzzled over whether tuna was chicken or fish?

Anyway, the point is, Jessica is still a fairly young-sounding name, but not for long. Give it a decade or two, and there will be almost no junior Jessies around. Jessica will be a middle-aged name. You know all those memes that mention “Karen” or “Susan”? They’ll all be saying “Jessica”.

That is, unless all the Jessicas out there can convince their friends to name their daughters after them.

Would you name your child Jessica? Tell us in the comments section below. 

Tags: baby-names , features , pregnancy
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