It’s a national tragedy. According to a data analysis by Quartz, the once popular name Heather is going extinct.
The name, which peaked in 1975, is now listed at 1,129th on the list of trending baby names.
Apparently, at its most popular, there were more than 24,000 girls named Heather — falling behind only Jennifer and Amy. In 2017, that number had dropped to just 219.
So, what happened? “When fashion is ready for a name, even a tiny spark can make it take off,” Laura Wattenberg, founder of Baby Name Wizard, told the outlet. “Heather climbed gradually into popularity through the 1950s and ’60s, then took its biggest leap in 1969, a year that featured a popular Disney TV movie called Guns in the Heather. A whole generation of Heathers followed, at which point Heather became a ‘mom name’ and young parents pulled away.”
The ’80s movie Heathers — where all the main characters named Heather were evil — is also blamed for the moniker’s downfall. Thanks, Shannen Doherty. (We’ll be keeping our fingers crossed the reboot inspires a Heather resurgence.)
No one embodies the fall from grace the name has experienced more than Heather Locklear. The ultimate blonde bombshell of the ’80s, this Heather starred in Dynasty, dated rock stars, and was a sitcom queen in the ’90s thanks to Melrose Place and Spin City.
Fast forward two decades, and she has been arrested twice in the span of four months for domestic battery — and is nearly unrecognizable in her mugshots.
However, girls named Heather have united on the internet to prove they might be outnumbered — but they are not going down without a fight. “A barista asked my name for the cup, then said, “that’s a name you don’t hear much anymore.” I laughed, agreed, and felt old, but Starbucks kid was right,” one Heather tweeted.
Another saw the bright spot in the decline, adding, “Good news! There were too darn many of us out there. When I was a kid there were no others, then suddenly they were everywhere!”
One Heather has a (dark) theory about the demise. “Actually, there’s a secret Highlander style tournament that’s been going on for ages and eventually, we’ll be down to the most powerful, supreme Heather,” she explained.
Unfortunately, a comeback is not looking good. According to baby name expert Laura, the “current style favors liquid sounds dominated by long vowels.”
This means people prefer baby names that create air flow through the mouth — Liam, Noah, Aria — compared to names with muted vowels like Shannon, Chad, and of course, Heather.
And if the name, which is English for a flowering evergreen plant that thrives on peaty barren lands, does make a comeback, it won’t be for a while. Turns out, names that return to popularity tend to do so after 100 years or so.
There is some good news for the Heathers of the world, sort of. They are not alone when it comes to being on the endangered baby names list.
Debra, Donna, Betty, and Carol join Heather as names that went from the top 5 to outside of the top 1,000 faster than any others.
In an attempt to save the name, comedian Heather McDonald had started a movement. “I’ve been warning the world for years and now it’s serious. Please join my charity ‘Heathers for Heathers: Keeping Heathers Hot for Generations to Come.’ Pls retweet and save Heathers,” she tweeted.
Do your part. Hug a Heather today.