My father chose my name, Barbara, after the old English ballad, “The Ballad of Barbara Allen.” As a teen I thought that was quite romantic, until I read the ballad and learned that Barbara Allen was a hard-hearted, heart-breaking woman—which I did not want to be.
In despair, I researched the origin of my name in encyclopedias, hoping for a lovely definition, such as “grace” or “courage.” To my utter horror, I discovered that the origin of my name meant “wild barbarian.”
It wasn’t until I taught fifth grade that I received a more satisfactory association for my name. My students called me Barbie Doll. Now, I found my name association with a doll to be far more flattering than a heart-breaking woman or a wild barbarian. Even though I bear no resemblance to this exaggerated doll, I felt the meaning of my name was finally vindicated.