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Karen meme
courtesy of Instagram/@barbarashappyfamily

Karen memes have put the name on the verge of extinction

The once-popular name, which has come to signify privileged white women, just hit an all-time low according to ONS figures

In recent years, the name Karen has become synonymous with a particular type of woman – she's white and middle class, and on the more innocuous end of the scale she shares wine memes and demands to speak to the manager at every establishment she visits. On the more sinister end, she refuses to wear a facemask during a pandemic, and calls the police on innocent Black people she suspects of committing nascent crimes. 

As the meme has risen in popularity though, it seems that it’s had the opposite effect on the name itself, which has been in a steady decline since the 90s. In fact, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published this week, the name is at an all time low, with just 14 Karens born across England and Wales in 2019, down from 21 in 2018.

This continues a trend that has being going on for some time: back in 1996, 76 Karens were born, a number that decreased to 43 a decade later, in 2006. If the trend continues, the data suggests, the name could face extinction.

Researches have said that the impact of popular culture on “the baby name landscape” is obvious when compiling the data, according to The Telegraph, suggesting that the Karen archetype that has spread on social media – including a thriving community of teens roleplaying as “Karens” on Instagram – is at least partly to blame.

In other recent Karen news, Orange Is The New Black’s Taryn Manning is set to star in a new, Karen-inspired crime thriller, as an entitled white woman who terrorises her Black, BLM-supporting neighbours (yes, she’s called Karen too). Presumably that’s not the kind of pop culture boost the name needs.