Stop Shaming Married Women for Keeping Their Maiden Names

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by: Olivia Bahou
22 Mar 2018

On Thursday, Chrissy Teigen’s tweet about keeping her own last name sparked a nationwide debate, and not for the first time. For many women, this particular conversation hit close to home. If you’re married, did you take your spouse’s last name? If you ever want to get married, would you replace your maiden name with theirs?

“I’d really like to hear the reasoning behind women who won’t take their husband’s last name,” one Twitter user wrote, implicitly shaming women who decide to keep their maiden name after marriage—Chrissy Teigen included.

Never one to hold back, the model responded with her signature sarcasm. “My husband didn’t even take his last name?” she responded. In fact, John Legend’s birth name is John Roger Stephens. “Legend” is just his stage name, and not even the couple’s 1-year-old daughter Luna goes by it (her full name is Luna Simone Stephens).

You’ll notice, though, that Chrissy’s last name is not Stephens, and she doesn’t owe you an explanation as to why. Another fan replied to her Tweet, writing, “Never understand women not taking husband’s last name/hyphenating theirs with his.”

The Twitter queen caught wind of that too, and promptly shut it down. “You’ll never understand the simple reason of ‘because I don’t want to’?” she wrote.

Aside from the fact that she never needs to explain her choices to the public (she’s run into this issue time and time again while discussing her experience with IVF), Teigen’s comments touch on a larger debate about women taking their spouse’s last name. Judging by Twitter, many people can’t seem to understand why women wouldn’t want to change their name after getting married. Let us count the possible reasons.

For many women, their careers start before they get married, and don’t end afterward. If they’re known by their maiden name in their professional life, they may not want to lose the clout that comes with that identity at work.

Some people like their names! Changing your last name can feel like losing a bit of your identity. Also, you might not even like your spouse’s last name. 

Maybe you don’t want to deal with all of the many things you have to change if you take their last name. Think about having to adjust your name on your passport, driving licence, insurance information, and more.

Or maybe you just don’t agree with the implication behind it. After all, there’s a reason why women historically take their husband’s last name, while they don’t take ours. If you’re a feminist who dislikes the idea that you are your husband’s property (and honestly, who doesn’t?), changing your last name could feel kind of gross.

Or, as Chrissy said, maybe you just don’t want to. Of course, taking your spouse’s last name is totally fine too. What’s not fine is shaming those who don’t.


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