What’s in a name? Well, kind of a lot, it turns out.
An Australian woman is outraged after she tried to buy a personalized jar of Nutella for her five-year-old niece and got turned down because the little girl’s name is Isis — you know, as in the militant group responsible for global terrorist activities.
According to the Huffington Post, the girl’s aunt went to a department store in New South Wales to purchase the jar, which is part of the brand’s “Make Me Yours” campaign that allows Nutella-lovers to customize the snack’s label. The computer flagged “Isis” as an inappropriate name and the store manager referred the woman to Nutella’s parent company, Ferrero. She appealed to them and was shocked when Ferrero’s Chief Executive, Craig Barker, doubled down on the decision to decline the name Isis.
An official statement released by the company read:
“Like all campaigns, there needs to be consistency in the way terms and conditions are applied. Unfortunately, this has meant there have been occasions where a label has not been approved on the basis that it could have been misinterpreted by the broader community or viewed as inappropriate.”
As the Huffington Post points out, the hard line against controversial names probably stems from an issue at the beginning of the campaign when users could use Nutella’s website to create any label they could dream up. This resulted in some rather…interesting Nutella jars being passed around online.
— Christopher Tolliver (@tolliver_c) November 27, 2015
— Dr. Sparkless (@Pihk77) September 17, 2015
The thing is, this situation is really nothing like that. Isis’ mother, Heather Taylor, even tells the Sydney Morning Herald she named her daughter not for the militant group ISIS, but for the ancient Egyptian goddess who shares the name. While it makes sense for a computer to automatically flag the girl’s name as problematic, it certainly seems silly for a human who can understand nuance to agree with that choice.
According to the Social Security Administration, the name Isis has been in the top 1,000 names since 1994. It peaked in 2005, and there are currently 10,620 people in the U.S. living with that name. While those numbers only represent our country, it’s not outlandish to think people in other countries would also enjoy the name Isis. This little girl isn’t on her own.
When we name our kids, we have no way of knowing what those words will come to mean in the future. The name we think is so sweet and adorable could end up holding a future association with a terrorist or a criminal or any number of negative things. It’s unfair to make this little kid face exclusion or discrimination because of an unfortunate coincidence. She has nothing to do with ISIS, and that’s plainly obvious, so will someone please get this kid her damn jars of Nutella already?