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Jessica Simpson catches flak for naming daughter Maxwell

Jessica Simpson speaks onstage at Night at the Village during the Women's Conference in Long Beach, Calif., on Oct. 25, 2010.

Matt Sayles/AP

Well, it isn't Blue or Bear Blu or Apple. But Jessica Simpson's choice of name for her newborn has sparked criticism all the same.

The singer, who gave birth earlier this week, named her baby girl Maxwell Drew Johnson.

Maxwell is the middle name of the baby's father, Eric Johnson, according to People magazine. And Drew is the maiden name of Ms. Simpson's mother, Tina.

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Seems pretty innocuous, right? Not according to commenters' reactions. Here's a sampling from Yahoo!:

- "Maxwell? That's like naming a boy Julie. You can call her Maxi but her license will always say MAXWELL and that is just wrong. Poor thing."

- "Cute name but they are going to go round and round at school over being called Maxi Pad all of her school days."

- "Maxwell? May as well named it Bob."

Perhaps the name has struck a nerve, since people's perceptions about a name can affect an individual well into adulthood, as CNN suggests. From your name, others make assumptions about your gender, the era in which you were born, and potentially even your race or religion.

But CNN also points out that parents, over the past 50 years or so, have been coming up with distinctive names to set their children apart from the crowd.

Hannah Emery, a sociology doctoral student at University of California Berkeley, who studies naming practices, told CNN that parents who chose popular baby names "were almost apologetic, as if they thought they had somehow done a disservice to their child by choosing a common name."

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Given the names parents come up with to be creative or unusual, you'd think that giving a girl a so-called boy's name like Maxwell is pretty conventional. There are plenty of other, and possibly worse, choices that parents can make, according to Babycenter.com.

There's "the nickname trap" (parents are warned to brainstorm possible taunts their child's tormentors can use); embarrassing initials (don't name your child Peter Owen Olsen); and even humiliating e-mail handles (Babycenter.com cautions against Frances Atkins and Edward Atwood to avoid addresses like fatkins@yahoo.com and eatwood@gmail.com, see?).

How do people perceive you, based on your name?

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About the Author

Wency Leung is a general assignment reporter for the Life section. Before joining The Globe in early 2010, she has worked as a reporter in Vancouver, Prague, and Phnom Penh. More

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