The other day my mind ran across an old business acquaintance in Boston, I wanted to reconnect with them but I didn’t know their email address. I knew that this person had an online presence so I Googled their name, but nothing of value came back. All I found was an old blog post about an art exhibit they participated in years ago.
Not deterred by this I decided to run their name through LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter etc. and still nothing. At first I couldn’t understand how this person had disappeared in the information age. That’s when it dawned on me, my colleague was a female. When we last worked together she’d recently had a child and by this time must have gotten married. By virtue of changing her last name she had become invisible to anyone who knew her prior to getting married.
My wife recently received her doctorate in psychology, we are recently married and have had some heated discussions over her taking my last name. Her childhood dream was to be Dr. Clare. Seeing that she had this aspiration decades prior to our engagement, one could understand why it would be hard for her to let it go. After much back and forth we still didn’t reach a resolution, in fact while standing in line to get our marriage license we were still debating the issue. Ultimately it was never resolved, my last name is Minott and hers is Clare. (We are now considering hyphenation)
Demi Moore’s original surname was ‘Demi Gene Guynes’, she first married singer/songwriter Freddy Moore in 1980. Mrs. Moore later gained fame as a soap opera actress on ABC’s General Hospital.
After divorcing Freddy Moore her next marriage was to actor Bruce Willis in 1987. By this time she was a famous actress, hence she chose to keep the last name ‘Moore’ in order to protect the personal brand she had built. After all who wants to go see a movie starring Demi Willis?
Fast forward to the present, Demi is in her third marriage to actor Ashton Kutcher. Once again she’s kept the name ‘Moore’ but adopted an alias for her online persona. On Twitter we’ve come to know her as @mrskutcher, her name change in this case allows her to express her love and commitment to Ashton without damaging her professional personal brand. Interestingly, she kept the name Demi Moore for her Facebook profile.
Being a famous actress has allowed her to navigate the waters of maintaining her image after several marriages, unfortunately your average American woman doesn’t have world renown fame on her side.
In the age of social media it is vital to for men and women to retain control over their personal brand throughout marriage and divorces. The common act of changing your last name runs the risk of making yourself blind to search engines and online contacts.
As a man I’ve never had to worry about losing my identity. Now I’ve come to understand why my wife argued so strongly to keep her name.
Photo credit: JodiWomack
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