We live in a society where labels are everything. Some labels are chosen for us and others are chosen by us. Let’s take our names for example. This is something that for the most part is given to us at birth. It is a label that identifies who we are, what family we belong to, and in some cultures – what our role in society is. As a woman and first generation graduate, my first and last names are a big part of my overall identity. It tells people I am Latina and it tells my family that “we” have accomplished things as we see it printed on certificates and diplomas. Being a woman in higher education brings up big questions when it comes to marriage. One of them being – Do I change my last name? How will people remember me? How will I be addressed? What is my overall identity? Personally, I had an “identity crisis” when I got engaged. I was immediately put in several boxes that I wasn’t ready to address. I wasn’t ready to change who I was. I am Yurivia Cervantes-Lopez. That was the label I had embraced, used, and understood my entire life. Changing my last name meant changing my identity, which was scary.  Being able to hold on to my identity while embracing my partner and new chapter in my life was something I needed and so I decided to hyphenate my name. I have the full support of my partner and family, but find it interesting to see others reactions to my decision. Some people look concerned while others seem annoyed by the whole idea. Such reactions by both women and men lead me to wonder: Why is it that in our society women who chose to keep their name or hyphenate after marriage are perceived as pretentious? Why is it that in heterosexual marriages, men don’t contemplate taking on their bride’s last name? Why? I find myself asking questions that many women have asked before. Yet, there is never a direct or satisfying answer.  It is simply driven by gender norms so why not do away with them? Maybe we should follow the steps of Phoebe from the show Friends and change our names to Princess Consuela Bananahammock.  At the end of the day our names are one of the most important labels we have and we should be able to change it, modify it, and do with it as we want because it is what makes us, US.

- Written by Yurivia Cervantes, M.A.

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