BY ADI RAMAN '23
Not all names are created equal. Take “Yolanda,” for instance, a name I personally despise and hope you do as well. What doesn’t make this name dreadful? With the awkward “l” spliced between two vowels and the fact that it sounds like you’re greeting someone named “Landa,” I’m not quite sure what there is to appreciate. The name is derived from the Latin word viola meaning “violet.” I think we missed a couple of steps going from viola to Yolanda, but who am I to question the onomastics experts at behindthename.com? While the name itself is unpleasant, there have been many famous Yolandas throughout history who have accomplished incredible things. However, Yolandas have been stirring up trouble as of late and embarrassing their Yolandan predecessors. Because Yolandan history is outrageously unstudied, I took the liberty of marking important periods and dates. Now, let’s take a look through time and chronicle the rise, peak, and ultimate downfall of Yolandan legacy.
The Yolandan Dynasty began with Yolanda of Vianden (1231-1283), who was born in modern-day Luxembourg; she escaped an arranged marriage to become a monastic nun. Way to go, Yolanda! We stan prioritizing religion over relationships. Not much is known about Yolandas in the few centuries following, but the Yolandan Revival (1990-2009) was a magnificent renaissance where, despite Yolanda Saldívar tragically killing Selena Quintanilla, Yolandas achieved many feats. Yolanda King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., spoke at college assemblies about discrimination in America, child poverty, and LGBTQ+ rights. She also encouraged African-American women to vote in the 1996 election. Yolanda Griffith had an incredible career as a WNBA player. She was the 1999 WNBA MVP, the 2005 WNBA champion, and won two Olympic gold medals as part of the US women’s basketball team. However, Griffith was forced to retire in 2009 due to a torn achilles tendon. This injury was the turning point that ended Yolandan dominance in the 2010s.
The trouble all began in 2012 when Yolanda Hadid was cast in the third season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Hadid, mother of models Gigi, Bella, and Anwar, is a controversial figure in pop culture. From claiming being gay is a choice at the Real Housewives reunion to condemning female volleyball players for having “big and bulky” bodies, Hadid’s behavior over the years has deservedly raised more than a few eyebrows. Yolanda Walmsley, who first appeared on the sixth season of Dance Moms in 2016, furthered the troubling Yolandan descent. In a fight on the show, she attempted to strangle another mom (although she denies it), and now, Yolanda “Choker” Walmsley lives in infamy in the Dance Moms fandom for her unhinged and concerning behavior. Not a good look.
So, how did the Yolandas go from girlbossing their way across Northwestern Europe in search of piety to choking people on Lifetime? Your guess is as good as mine. In any case, I’m disappointed. Yolandas, with that kind of name, you already start disadvantaged. It was your responsibility to carry the torch and show the world that a godawful name does not define you. Unfortunately, it appears that you have succumbed to the sinister and diabolical nature of the seven letters with which you are called. I hope that going forward, you can learn from your predecessors and resolve your problematic tendencies. Best of luck.