I was named after American singer/actress, Barbra Streisand., who was actually born with the conventional spelling of her first name: B-A-R-B-A-R-A, and then dropped the second “a” to be unique. Hence, B-A-R-B-R-A.
My mom named me after her because she was a huge fan; me, not so much. And I’m certainly not a fan of my name because I have to spell it out for everybody. Even then, they don’t always spell it correctly, which is really frustrating.
Up until high school, I went by Barbra, that is, Bar-BRA, not Bar-BA-ra. To simplify the matter of how my name is spelled/pronounced, I began introducing myself as “Barb.”
Then there’s my sort-of middle name. It’s A-N-N, without the “e” at the end. My dad was a huge Beach Boys fan, and I guess my parents compromised and named me Barbra Ann, after the Beach Boys hit, “Barbara Ann.” If you’re of a certain age, then surely you know the song. If not, well, here it is:
In Filipino culture, babies’ middle names are their mothers’ maiden names. So when I was born, I was Barbra Ann Lingat Natividad. My first name is actually Barbra Ann, like Mary Ann. But no one ever called me that because . . . well, I don’t know why. So when I became a naturalized citizen, I dropped “Lingat” and made “Ann” my official middle name.
My family, on the other hand, calls me “Chic” or “Chic-Chic” (pronounced “chick,’ not, “sheek.”) In Filipino families, it’s very common to have a nickname. My paternal grandfather called me his little chickadee, and that’s how I became “Chic-Chic.” Most of my family members call me by the shortened version — “Chic” — while my siblings and younger cousins call me “Ate (pronounced AH-teh) Chic-Chic.” In Filipino culture, older brothers/sisters/cousins have an honorific as a sign of respect. For girls, it’s Ate; for boys, it’s Kuya.
The first time I was married, I changed my last name to my husband’s. Whenever I’d show up for an appointment or something, people would look at me with mild surprise because they were expecting a white woman. So when we divorced, I took my maiden name back. When I married my current husband, I kept my name because: 1) I didn’t want to lose my cultural identity; and 2) for professional reasons — I had already published poetry under the name “Barb Natividad.” Is your head spinning yet? Lol!
Do you have cultural norms surrounding your name? Do you know how you got the name you have? If you’re a single/married woman, would/did you change or keep your last name?