George Clooney, Amal Alamuddin, Clooney Wedding


Amal Clooney (neé Amal Alamuddin) took her hubby's surname because...well, who wouldn't want to be Mrs. George Clooney?!

Many women, though, choose to keep their maiden name after saying "I do," in one capacity or another. Some, like Kim Kardashian West, take their spouse's family name while keeping their own as their legal middle name. Others, like Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, take the hyphenation approach.

Then there are women, such as Jessica Simpson, who continue using their maiden name professionally, but adapt their partner's in their personal lives. The mama mogul recently admitted on Ryan Seacrest's KIIS FM radio show, though, that sometimes she'll jump between the two if she's trying to get a dinner reservation!

Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Ryan Sweeting, Emmy Awards 2014

Evan Agostini/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images

"If it's a hard restaurant to get into, I will definitely say Simpson," she said, laughing. "It helps a little bit, [but] my license says ‘Jessica Johnson.' That makes it legit."

Legit or not, it's a personal choice for every married woman as to what name(s) she chooses to use: Personally, professionally and legally! According to a 2004 Harvard University study, it wasn't until the 1970s that it became common for prominent marrying women to keep their maiden names, often as their middle name.

Since then, the study notes, the percent of college-educated women retaining their surnames in some capacity (as opposed to completely adapting their husband's family name in favor of their own) has greatly increased. Another study cited by the Wall Street Journal backs this up, confirming "well-educated women in high-earning occupations are significantly more likely to keep their maiden names," as are women working in fields like medicine, the arts or entertainment.

Jessica Simpson, Eric Johnson

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Women who married between the ages of 35 to 39 were 6.4 times more likely to keep their names than women who wed between the ages of 20 to 24. Amal, who took George's last name at age 36, was statistically less probable to drop Alamuddin, but she certainly did!

While many women feel adapting their partner's surname is traditional and makes them a more cohesive family unit, others like the independence of keeping their birth name as part of their identity. New York Times' Book Review editor Pamela Paul pointed out in a 2013 piece, however, that keeping one's maiden name and tacking on one's married name can lead to logistical conclusion.

"Though I moved my last name to my middle, this has left me in a muddle: Under what name do I travel?" she writes. "Who pays taxes? What if I, er, still haven't switched over my Social Security card?"

Kate admitted her "two-name status doesn't get in the way of major life events," but still, it causes "other minor entanglements" in her daily life--like dealing with security guards at work appointments and confusing her children who see a different last name than they're used to on her byline.

Last year in the Guardian, Jill Flipovic asked, "Why, in 2013, does getting married mean giving up the most basic marker of your identity? And if family unity is so important, why don't men ever change their names?"


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