Why Karen?

I keep seeing the Karen memes and tweets. Everywhere you turn it’s, “Way to go, Karen,” or “Do you want to talk to the manager, Karen?” Why Karen? What age demographic are people trying to hit with this insult? I always thought they were going for the 40 year olds, maybe early 50s. I’m 51 and I don’t know very many Karens. I can think of two off the top of my head. I had to check my Facebook friends list and it turns out I have three of them on my list, so bump that number up to five! I know a lot of Jennifers though. Also, a lot of Angies and Stacys. And quite a few Julies and/or Julias, now that I think about it. Amy is another popular one.

Rarely known fact: I was this close to being named Heather. It was between my actual name and Heather. My mom said at the last minute she decided she was going to go with Heather but then my dad showed up with a gift that read: To Baby Sam. So Sam it was. I was so damn close to having a normal name.

The meme makes me think they’re going a little younger than the 60s generation, and while it does have a point I think if you’re going to generalize an entire generation the smarter bet would have been on Jennifer. It was the top baby girl name from 1970-1984. Fourteen years, folks! So far no other name has matched the popularity or staying power of Jennifer. Like I asked in the beginning, how old is this Karen? 30s? 40s? 50s? If she’s anywhere from 36-50 she really should be called Jennifer. Maybe even Jen.

Perhaps they’re reaching even further back- 1969 and earlier. That may very well be, but the number one baby name in 1969 was Lisa. Followed by Michelle, Jennifer, Kimberly, and Melissa. Surprisingly Amy came in at #6. I thought it would be higher. Rounding out the top ten were Angela, Mary, Tammy, and Laura. To be fair Karen did come in at #13. 

After doing some research (aka Googling the top baby names for 1960-1969) it turns out the insult may have some teeth behind it, depending upon how old this Karen is. As it turns out Karen was actually a fairly popular name in the early part of the 60s. Early, being the operative word. It wasn’t Jennifer popular but it was the 4th most popular name of the 1960s.

It peaked at #3 in 1965 and held onto the #4 spot in 1960, ’62, ’63, and ’64. It was #5 in popularity in 1961 and 1966, and then slid to #6 in 1967 and down to #9 in 1968. As I said previously, it came in at #13 in 1969. Like I said, it was no Jennifer.

I’m back to asking: How old is Karen? if she was born in the 60s Lisa was the overall #1 girl name, followed by Mary and Susan. Wouldn’t it make more sense to use one of those names instead of the #4 name? Maybe Karen is always in such a pissy mood because her name came in at #4 instead of #1. But we don’t hear anything about bad attitudes from Kimberly, Patricia, Linda, Donna, Michelle, or Cynthia, do we? Those were #5-10 in case you were wondering.

And if she is younger, born sometime in the 1970s, you would be better off calling her Jennifer (of course!), Amy, Melissa, Michelle, or Kimberly. Lisa dropped to #6 in the 70s. Heather, btw, was #8.

I think Karen is more popular now than it was in its heyday beck in the 60s! Way to go, Karen.

2 thoughts on “Why Karen?

  1. I know a few Karen’s, but I don’t remember many at school. I’m 49. Anne was not high on the list. There were at least 4 Jennifer’s in each of my grades, lol.

    Naming kids is hard. Different without being weird, unique, but normal. My kids are Cooper (he fits to a tee and there are not many) and Cleo (exactly her, but uncommon in Canada. She goes by Crow now, but is accepting of Cleo…she HATES being called Chloe, and there are lots of Chloe in their mid teens).

    Anne

    Like

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