The Name Game
Brittany Tiplady // Columnist
I have that kind of name that makes people say: “Seriously? That’s your real name?” I worked as a server for years and my last name was always fair game for tacky jokes about tipping etiquette and so forth. I hate having such a common first name, but my first and last names as a whole, have bound my identity in so many ways.
I was Brittany Tiplady, the cute, curly- haired child actress. I was Brittany Tiplady, the dancer. I am Brittany Tiplady, the ballet teacher and mentor. I am Brittany Tiplady, the journalist and the small business owner.
My name encompasses who I am: deceptively ordinary until you dig a little deeper. I have no way to ower this up – my name is just who I am and I figured it would always be that way. Then, I got engaged.
In my last piece, I wrote wholeheartedly about feminism and marriage, and the question of, if you can truly have both. If you read it, you know that in the right relationship, I believe you can. We are now happily married (yay!) and I am still, for all intents and purposes, Brittany Tiplady.
Now, let’s rewind. When my husband and I started talking about marriage many years ago we talked about marital name changes, and we agreed that I would stick with my maiden name. Neither of us are wrapped up in our family lineage or feel a need to “carry on the family name” and thankfully, he was on board with my decision.
For me, my desire to remain a Tiplady has nothing to do with family ties – my dad is adopted, and the call to keeping my identity came from my own personal feminist fire, and the inconvenience and confusion a name change would bring to my writing career. I toyed with the idea of hyphenating, but the process was far too arduous. I looked into changing my name legally, but still going by Brittany Tiplady professionally. Eventually, I circled back my original plan: no paperwork, no problem.
Now that we are married I obviously don’t walk around with a sign around my neck that says: “I’m not Mrs. McPherson, I didn’t change my name. Stop calling me that,” but I wish I could do so without looking like a lunatic because my life would be so much easier.
I love my husband and I am thrilled about our marriage and future, but I didn’t get married to lose my identity. I got married so that we could commit to a lifetime of love and partnership with all of our loved ones as our witnesses. And while I am in no way saying a woman is a bad feminist if she takes her husband’s name, it simply was not the right decision for me.
From the older generations in our family, we have been celebrated and greeted with the good old: “Congratulations to the McPhersons!” or my personal favourite: “Hello, Mrs. Ryan McPherson!”
I didn’t expect this would make my blood boil as much as it has, but let me tell you, I’m red up about it. We have been met with so much love in this special time and at the helm of these jovial greetings, I know that they are said with the best of intentions. I’m still working on how to respond politely and respectfully, and I am definitely still working on keeping my cool when the error is made.
If I’m being honest, I haven’t quite figured out how to make my forever Tiplady status a public announcement. I’m hoping that over time people will learn and my sensitivity to the topic will fade. It’s not a perfect solution, but I’m working on it.
As we grow, as we enter new chapters, and as we expand our minds and definitions of feminism, we are also greeted with a humbling learning process. I’m still learning why my name is so important to my integrity.
But in the meantime, while I compartmentalize all the moving parts of my marriage and what lies ahead, I’ll do it with my name as Brittany Tiplady – Don’t wear it out.