weddings

J.Lo, Jennifer Affleck and the ongoing debate about surnames.

With love, 

Mrs Jennifer Lynn Affleck”

They were the words that made the court of public opinion erupt. Well, it was that last word, in particular:

Affleck. 

Now, I’m sure by now you know, that Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck exchanged nuptials in a ceremony in Las Vegas over the weekend – 20 years since the couple called off their first engagement and went their separate ways.

And yes, it’s lovely, and the happy ending we didn’t even know we needed – but here’s the thing that’s got tongues wagging more than the quiet ceremony, or the two gowns she wore.

The fact that JLo is now JAff… Well, kinda.  

Jennifer Lopez: Halftime was released on Netflix earlier this year. Article continues after post.


Video via Netflix.

In a message sent out to the subscribers of her ‘On the JLo’ newsletter, Jenny from the Block announced the couple's big news – and signed off as Mrs. Jennifer Lynn Affleck. 

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The new name has since been confirmed in Nevada legal records which showed the marriage license was issued to both “Party 2 Name: Lopez, Jennifer” and “Party 2 New Name: Affleck, Jennifer”.

So yes, Jennifer Affleck is official.

Cue the big opinions of media commentators and anyone with a functioning keyboard.  

Some have questioned her feminism, accused her of being “regressive” and succumbing to the patriarchy; while others rather cynically assert the move is just an opportunistic career-boosting play to stay “relevant”, and a content grab to lure newsletter subscribers. Others who look beyond the name change, calling it the ultimate happily ever after, have labelled Jennifer the modern-day Elizabeth Taylor, whose rom-coms are coming to life. 

Whichever way you look at it, it has sparked conversation on women changing their names once married. I mean, that’s what the zeitgeist does, right?

To change one’s surname or not; that's the very question Mamamia posed to our community. This is what we were told.

9 women on whether they would change their surname after marriage.

According to Shell, the answer is 'no'. 

“I think I’d have an identity crisis,” she said. “I wouldn't feel any closer to my partner of 10 years, or my future kids, if we all shared the same last name.”

“No way,” agrees Leigh. “I have a paperwork phobia… And it feels fake to just pretend to be some other family/heritage,” she says, adding that her Greek in-laws were none too pleased. 

Meghna is of Indian heritage – and despite the common cultural practice for a woman to adopt their husband’s surname, she felt it would be “almost unfair” to her parents who “raised me and my sister with so much love” to drop her family surname – particularly as she doesn’t have a brother to carry on the family name. 

“It was almost like something in me said, 'I will not let them be disadvantaged in any way just because they have no son' – they made sure I was never disadvantaged either,” she shared.

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As for Yvette, she and her husband decided to create a brand new surname altogether: “We wanted to make our own family and create a new story. Publicly, it was harder for him to explain the name change – especially at work and within his industry," she said. 

A new shared surname was Jo’s preference too, but her husband was not keen. Instead, she hyphenated her surname as “a feminist compromise”.

For others, the answer is less clear, and still a work in progress. 

Katie tells Mamamia that she “weirdly [would] like to give my partner the gift of taking his surname,” also acknowledging that if she didn’t take it on, her partner's father would be “devastated”. 

“I feel SO TORN… I think, if I had to make the call now, I would keep my name and he would keep his, and we’d figure out the kid name thing if that happened in the future.”

The professional ramifications are another major consideration for many women. 

Claire is a journalist, and she decided to make her maiden name her middle name, and take on her husband’s surname. This is how she is known privately, but in the professional world, she is still known solely by her maiden name.

“I am really annoyed when people get all feminist and upset at women who choose to take their husband's name. The reason for feminism is that we got the right to choose to live however the hell we want, and if that means changing a name then by all means go ahead and do it."

“After all, your maiden name is still your Daddy’s, so if you want to shout feminism, choose a name that has no patriarchal ties at all – and good luck with that!”

Have a listen to this episode of Mamamia Out Loud, all about JLo's wedding. Post continues after podcast.


Cristina is of Filipino background and decided to keep her maiden name in a professional setting; this was the compromise she landed upon with her husband. 

“My last name signifies a part of my identity and my culture. We tossed around the idea of hyphenating it or combining but it just became a little troublesome. So, I decided that I loved the idea that our new little family had one last name and that we were all on the same team. I also came to realise that my culture and heritage aren’t only present in my name but in everything I am, so it made the decision a little easier.” 

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Tamara took her husband's surname – professionally and privately – after she married earlier this year. “It came down to personal preference. I liked how [his surname] sounded, and it suited me,” she said. She observed some in her professional circle were “surprised or seemed a little shocked”. 

“I guess it isn't what they expected of me. It's a highly personal decision for every individual, and you can't know the considerations unless you're the one making it,” she shared.

Alana is Argentinian-Australian, and like Jennifer, proud of her Latina identity. She too took on her husband’s surname but says that if she had her time again, would contemplate incorporating her maiden name as her middle name – as is commonplace in Argentina, and several Spanish-speaking countries. 

She explains, “We are a patriarchal society, and to not take on your husband’s surname altogether is seen as disrespectful to his family. There is stigma, and you’d be deemed a ‘crazy feminist’.” 

Identity is complex.

The bottom line is that our identities are multi-layered and complex, and personal.

Yes, J.Lo ‘the brand’ is enormous, but we need to remember that beneath the glamorous facade of it all is just a woman. A person, just like the rest of us – albeit with better jewellery – entitled to choice and to live out her personal identity and family life according to her values and ideals.

If that means choosing to share the name of the man that she loves – for whatever her reason – power to her. 

In fact, in a newly resurfaced interview from 20 years ago, Jennifer tells Access Hollywood interviewer Pat O'Brien that she will be Jennifer Affleck – "obviously" – but will keep Lopez as her stage name. 

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The embrace of tradition does not automatically equate to internalised misogyny. And to judge her entire identity by the name she chooses to bear is reductive and myopic. 

Yes, Jennifer is a singer, actress, dancer and performer; Puerto Rican, American and Roman Catholic too.

She is a daughter, sister and mother. 

Jennifer was also appointed as the United Nations’ the first ever Global Advocate for Girls and Women; and the co-founder of The Lopez Family Foundation, bringing education and healthcare to women and children with limited access. 

And she is the singer who parodied the objectification of women in her music video, 'I Luh Ya Papi'. And gave the middle finger to the stereotypical expectations of women in 'I Ain’t Yo Mama'. 

Is she Beyoncé's brand of feminism (to whom she is oft compared)? No. But she doesn’t need to be. 

Because there is no one acceptable form of feminist expression, and to assume there is only attempts to erode the unique lived experiences of women of all backgrounds. 

And I can guarantee that policing another woman's personal choices does not further the plight of feminism either.

She said it best herself in her recent Netflix special, Jennifer Lopez: Halftime

“I think, sometimes, as women, we think: 'if I’m too sexy I won’t be taken seriously'. We’re supposed to be celebrating women in every sense of who they are – smart, strong, sensual. You cannot just cancel out different parts of who you are. They can all coexist and be very authentic and real.”

And who are we to judge what is 'authentic' and 'real' to another woman? 

Keen to read more from Rebecca Davis? You can find her articles here, or follow her on Instagram.

Feature Image: Getty / Instagram @robzangardi / Mamamia

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