Pamela Chan
June 24, 2015 7:23 am

Long gone are the days when blue was meant strictly for boys and pink entirely for girls. Gender fluidity, in this day and age, is finally becoming more accepted. Never have we as a society been more devoted to creating a world where gender roles are less rigidly defined—where “feeling like you’re at one end of the spectrum or the other” is a thing of the age-old past, as our favorite new OITNB inmate tells Elle Magazine.

And now baby-naming, quite naturally, has come to reflect this larger cultural shift. Yes, gender-neutral baby names have become the thing in 2015. While popular faves like Emma for girls and Noah for boys topped the charts merely twelve months ago, as reported by the Social Security Administration, baby name experts at BabyCenter report that less traditional, more unisex names such as Amari, Karter, Phoenix, Quinn and Reese have been making substantial leaps on the lists of many moms and dads-to-be. We’ve still got six entire months to go, but it’s pretty safe to say that 2015 will in fact be “the year of the gender-neutral baby.”

“Many parents want to transcend the old-fashioned feminine or masculine roles and image with names that have not traditionally been used for either boys or girls but can be used for both sexes,” Nameberry’s Pamela Satran tells Yahoo Parenting. While the older generation may be taken aback by the use of unisex names, the emerging generation is much more “comfortable with the idea that gender is a fluid concept and that a name with an indistinct gender identity is more than fine — it’s preferable.”

What’s even more heartwarming, however, is that retailers and celebrities alike have all jumped onto this speeding bandwagon towards positive change.

Last Christmas, Sweden’s Toys R Us issued a gender-free catalog, while the company’s UK counterpart aimed to phase out in-store “boys” and “girls” aisles in favor of grouping toys by age and type. Clothing outlets such as Banana Republic have introduced exclusive “mini” collections shying away from the age-old pinks and blues in favor of gender-neutral hues like grey, black and cream. Apple furthered the movement by releasing its Apple Watch in one gender-free style: “The company apparently has no interest in reinforcing gender stereotypes,” notes Canadian Business  of the new technology.

Film stars like Blake Lively, Mila Kunis, and Kristen Bell recently chose gender-neutral names for their new arrivals, as have Mad Men actress Jessica Paré, as well as supermodel Coco Rocha, who announced the birth of her baby girl Ioni James Conran in March with a super sweet snapshot on Instagram. Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie, and Gwyneth Paltrow are just a few other celebs who have opted to go the gender-neutral route. Sports Illustrated model Robyn Lawley even plans to raise her daughter Ripley, born in February, in a ‘gender neutral’ environment with unisex toys and clothes. In an interview with Brands Exclusive magazine, she states: “I think we separate the genders too greatly by the toys and hobbies.”

Ultimately, we all strive to not live according to the rules of life, or to the expectations of society. To not be stuffed into a narrowly defined box, to be entirely true to ourselves at all times. That, as so many know, is the key to true happiness. And that, my friends, is exactly why moving towards not dividing the sexes so rigidly is so utterly important. Let’s hear it for a new generation with names that all mean one thing: positive change.

(Featured image vi Coco Rocha’s Instagram)

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