Depending on how you found me and the nature of our relationship, you may know me as coffeecupkat, Kat French, Katina French, Katina Beckham French, or (and this is pretty much strictly if we’re related by blood) Tina. So what gives?
About a year or so ago, I started the ball rolling toward legally reinstituting my maiden name as a second middle name. This would have left me with the rather lengthy moniker “Katina Lynn Beckham French.” I had my reasons.
Partly, it was an experiment in personal branding. “Katina Beckham French” sounds a little more impressive than “Kat French,” which, as a client pointed out to my chagrin lately, sounds vaguely like an “adult entertainer.” I can’t really get angry with the client, since it’s hardly the first time I’ve heard that–evidently I’m among the few who don’t need a goofy website to provide me with a “porn star name.”
When I was a kid, I got pretty tired of having to spell both my first and maiden names. Thanks to a certain British soccer star, underwear model and metrosexual, “Beckham” is not the oddity it once was. My family shortened my first name to “Tina” most of the time, but the truth is, I never liked it. It didn’t seem to fit my personality, and by the time I was in the 4th grade, we had about 5 “Tinas” so I started going by “Katina”– or “KT” to my friends.
I got married the weekend before I was due to start college, and since all my financial aid was under my maiden name, I went by “Katina Beckham French” for a while. After two years, my husband joined the military and we moved away from our hometown for six years. I started going by “Kat” and dropped my maiden name. It was easier to spell and remember for most people.
I’ve been on something of a healing journey for the past seven or eight years. A big part of that healing has involved, for lack of a better term, reintegrating all my various parts. Over the years, I’ve tried to derive my sense of identity from a lot of different sources–pretty much all of them the wrong ones. My family, my marriage, my career, my own creativity, have all had a turn at defining who I am.
So a year ago, I decided to spend some time owning and being at peace with the various names I’ve carried over the years. More than a few people assumed that resuming use of my maiden name had to do with the state of my marriage–it truly didn’t. It had more to do with loving and accepting both the family I grew up in, and the awkward kid/teenager who was sick of spelling her awkwardly long and unfamiliar name.
After a while, I realized that I was putting an unnecessary burden on others by insisting they use my full, unabbreviated name. I may like it better now, but “the big name” is still kind of a mouthful. I realized there were other, more important things I really needed to be doing to restore my relationships with family and other people from my past.
So now, most of the time, in most cases, I go by “Kat French”–it’s still shorter, and easier to remember and spell. I’m in a part of my life where I’d like to lower the hurdles for getting to know me wherever I can.
Except, of course, the people who want to get to know me based on the assumption that I’m an adult entertainer.