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Sunday, July 20, 2014

How soon is to Soon to Change your Name once married when in the Ent / Music Business | Vogues weekly cover Girl "Cheryl Cole" speaks | @Vogue

To Change Or Not To Change?

Picture credit: Patrick Demarchelier
THE artist formerly known as Cheryl Cole has prompted a discussion this week (aside from "how soon is too soon?" and "how big is too big?" where diamonds are concerned): to change or not to change? The newlywed Cheryl Fernandez-Versini replaced her ex-husband's moniker with that of her new French beau (and much more glamorous it is too), but did you? Or would you? And why?

Picture credit: Getty Images
"It's just easier to keep my maiden name for work," is the over-whelming response from much of the married women here at Vogue. Many of those with jobs that have been built around their name - journalists, editors and stylists alike - are keen to hold on to it for work, and the statistics bear out their choice. Although more than 60 per cent of British women, and 90 per cent of Americans, change their names in some way, this doesn't account for those who retain their maiden name at work. Professional women are more likely to keep their maiden names; the older a woman is the less likely it is that she will take her husband's name; likewise if she is the breadwinner. But is that the whole story?
Picture credit: Victoria Beckham/Twitter
"I think that some people say it's easier, but really they don't want anyone to think they've turned into a Fifties housewife," one brave Voguette declared. Many who do take their beloved's moniker describe themselves mock-apologetically as "old-fashioned" or "traditional" - for which the implication is arguably "romantic," "committed" and even "a good wife", but the trend is overwhelmingly towards a home-work divide. Recent high-profile newlyweds including Blake Lively, Poppy Delevingne, Olivia Palermo, Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley have retained their maiden names for work, but may cheerfully be booking married-name flights or restaurant tables in the name of domestic harmony. Some celebrities adopt a double-barrelled approach - Jada Pinkett-Smith, Christy Turlington-Burns, Robin Wright Penn, Courtney Cox Arquette - (in the case of the latter two, being able to chop off the new addition as required), while some unions are so high-profile as to remove the issue of having to explain why you have a new name at all.
Picture credit: Matrix
Picture credit: Instagram
Beyoncé (officially Knowles-Carter in her private life) was widely lampooned for her naming her tour Mrs Carter, thereby negating her individual achievements, the feminists screamed, while Kim Kardashian West was happy to begin signing autographs with her new name just hours after her multi-million-dollar Florentine wedding. Victoria Adams (who we'd forgotten even existed) became Victoria Beckham 15 years ago, but as the union was greater than the sum of its parts - and the wedding was in every paper - no one batted an eyelid as brand Beckham was born.
Besides the box-ticking, form-filling, mortgage-approving reasons, there are a raft of other, no less valid but far more emotional, arguments for each side. Aside from being put under pressure (ranging from "implied" through "gentle" to "serious") by their husband-to-be, many reference children - either actual or hoped-for - as a reason for changing to their husband's name.
"I didn't change my name at first, but travelling as the only one who didn't have the same name was strange, with my husband having to vouch that our baby belonged to me as we cleared customs," one lamented. "Everyone asking questions at school or at the doctor's surgery; I just didn't want that to happen."
Picture credit: Getty
Somehow feeling that starting again with a new name might "wipe out what I'd achieved alone" is another emotional but understandable response, as is the simplistic but unarguable: "Why should I? Why me?"
The last point is now entering an entirely new field of discussion as the legalisation of same sex-marriages force us to ask how it can be done when gender is not an issue. Will most partners choose one name from the two? Double-barrel? Or each keep their own? And what will help make the decision? Portia de Rossi became Portia Degeneres when she married the better-known Ellen, but what about in those out of the public eye? Maybe the nicer name will win - a much fairer fight.
Feminists would argue that in heterosexual marriages the very question of whether to change your name - when a man faces no such dilemma - is testament to the gender divides that still exist in our society. Subsuming your identity into that of your husband's - in any part of your life, professional or personal, they argue - speaks of an unequal union with a man who believes fundamentally that his wife is inferior to him. Not exactly something to toast as you start your married life.
But after all that, I know what you're thinking: what side of the fence are you writing from? Am I? Did I? I am. And I did. When I met my husband aged 23 we made a deal that if I wasn't published in Vogue by the time we were married, I'd take his name. Two weeks after the wedding, I became Vogue's news editor as Mrs Milligan. Call it convenience, call it romance, it made sense to me.