To Be an OG Emma in a World of Dogs and Kids Presumably Named After Me.
My name is Emma.
As I have entered a Renaissance period in my life, I have been reminded that Emma means “Whole and Complete” and “Universal.”
The name suits me on a multitude of levels and for a long time, I was the only Emma I knew. I was named after my paternal grandmother whose name was in full, Irmgard. I suppose Emma became the Anglicized choice to go by.
Born in the late 80s, so I identify as a 90s kid, I was always well versed in television and film. I knew actresses, Emma Thompson, and Emma Samms. My doctor when I was young referred to me as Emma Peel of The Avengers. Jumping ahead for a moment, when Ross and Rachel named their daughter presumably after me on Friends, the popularity of Emma spiked and it has been atop of the charts for years in many countries.
I have missed the peaceful era before the bomb was dropped on my life thanks to one of the most popular TV series of all time. There is a multitude of little girls out there named Emma. It can be so confusing to hear myself being reprimanded for not listening. It’s like, how do you know, random person in the grocery store? I only snuck a few extra things into the cart. Oh and the dogs. How many Golden Retrievers or Poodles have you met named Emma?
Back when it was just me, shining brightly and loudly from what I remember, I still knew something was missing. That’s when “Wannabe” by The Spice Girls hit my eardrums.
This was a pivotal time in my life. Girl Power was in full swing and I pledged my allegiance instantly. Maybe I have always been a bit of a feminist because I didn’t really care for The Backstreet Boys or N’ Sync or at least I wouldn’t openly admit it. I did end up liking O-Town, but that’s because you got to know them as you followed their journey on Making The Band I would tell myself. Surely not because Ashley Parker Angel was cute.
The summer I turned 9, I met a destined friend whom to this day I adore. A new family was moving in down the street and the girl that was moving out brought their daughter up to meet me and my best friend Erin. We were getting into nail polish, so we went into my backyard and got to know each other over a few bottles of Wet n’ Wild.
It turns out the synchronicities were quite strong, but perhaps the most obvious one was our names. This was the first Emma I met who was my age. Albeit 4 months younger as that will pertain to this story moving forward, nonetheless, we were entering the 4th grade together.
That was the day I became Emma N.
So as a bunch of Spice Girls fans would do, at any age, no discrimination here, we would dress up as them for Hallowe’en. I was set to be Baby Spice because we were both Emmas and blonde of course. When groups like The Spice Girls and the aforementioned boy bands came into play and even before that era, the youth was in a position to find the member they related to the most and/or have a crush on. Looking back, it kind of was unfortunate as everyone had to play into a stereotyped role as though they only had certain aspects of themselves to offer. An alternative thought to them playing to their strengths.
Anyway, that pigeonholing set me up to play the role of Emma Bunton. I was so excited, all set to go. But then little Emma D. rolls in and she’s blonder than me and I do appear a bit older in physical ways, so I become Ginger Spice. Geri Halliwell is a badass, don’t get me wrong, but we all know that before she was Ginger, she was Sexy Spice. So we can also understand why her specific marketing changed given the core audience. To go from Baby to Sexy (Ginger) real quick was an interesting evolution and I could delve into a whole other dialogue about this as my thoughts unfold.
So just as my friend (also to this day) was imposed with playing Scary Spice primarily because her skin tone was darker than ours when she probably wanted to be Sporty (as she was a phenomenal soccer player) I was all of a sudden positioned in this role of Ginger.
Could I rock the Union Jack dress today? Of course, because I also understand the magic of Ginger’s mission on a whole other level. Back then, however, as a 9-year-old who went from one end of the spectrum of archetypes to the other, it was a marker in my coming of age story. It was also a lesson in having to share, but more consciously, understanding the connectivity of everything in our lives and how we intersect with others.
I felt like being an independent and only child who again, was very determined and loud, some may have described me as bossy, I just always knew better. I knew things, so maybe I was always meant to be in that Ginger role, but felt rushed at that time.
My name has almost been prophetic to me in its meaning. Always being this strong determined soul who knows what is meant for me and sticks to it, with of course a multitude of pivots taken along the journey. I guess in that way, I am like Ginger. I have always valued my uniqueness and my strength and that comes from being an Emma.
After the Spice Girls Hallowe’en, I am still proud to call Emma D. not just a friend, but a sister, many years later. I also have Emma O. in my life now, who was born in London and probably touched Baby Spice. I’ll make up this story to add to her cool factor, but she doesn’t need it. We have these soul connections which all started because our parents chose the same prophetic name and bestowed upon us all.
To all of the young Emmas out there, navigating their way through this world, take this lesson: Do not feel like you have to fit into any particular mold and adore every single aspect of yourself. To all the non-Emmas, the same lesson applies.
Take a dash of all of the Spices and throw them into your recipe. Be like me in this way and don’t measure.