Names have (and have always had) incredible power. Jews don’t even spell god, preferring g_d instead, because of respect for the power of that word, which strictly speaking, isn’t even a name. In certain cultures, knowing someone’s true name means they are vulnerable to you.

I didn’t change my last name when I got married because I felt to do so would alter my identity — I didn’t want to ever be Mrs. James Neil Clarke, I wanted to be me, a whole person not subsumed into his identity. Fortunately, that was fine with him. Our son has my last name as his middle name since our names aren’t a good hyphen mix.

I chose Elle for my nom de plume because it’s the first initial of my name and because of what it means in French — I so often write about women. Because Elle wears no masks, I feel at times like she is the real me. I’ve gotten quite used to corresponding and answering questions/comments as Elle. Nice to meet another one!

Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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