Jennifer Lopez has shared why she changed her last name when marrying Ben Affleck earlier this year, following backlash around the decision.
In a new interview for Vogue US as the magazine's December cover star, Rob Haskell writes that the singer and actor, 53, is surprised to learn of the New York Times opinion piece published after her wedding, expressing disappointment at the move for the sake of feminism.
“What? Really?” says Lopez. “People are still going to call me Jennifer Lopez. But my legal name will be Mrs. Affleck because we’re joined together.
"We’re husband and wife. I’m proud of that. I don’t think that’s a problem.”
When asked if she wasn't tempted for Ben to become 'Mr. Lopez', she responds, "No! It’s not traditional. It doesn’t have any romance to it. It feels like it’s a power move, you know what I mean?"
And despite what critics may think, Lopez explains, "I’m very much in control of my own life and destiny and feel empowered as a woman and as a person. I can understand that people have their feelings about it, and that’s okay, too.
"But if you want to know how I feel about it, I just feel like it’s romantic. It still carries tradition and romance to me, and maybe I’m just that kind of girl.”
The pair tied the knot on 16 July, following their engagement in April 2022.
"Did you ever imagine your biggest dream could come true?" she wrote in her newsletter, On The JLo, at the time. "Saturday night while at my favourite place on earth (in the bubble bath), my beautiful love got on one knee and proposed.
"I was taken totally off guard and just looked in his eyes smiling and crying at the same time trying hard to get my head around the fact that after 20 years this was happening all over again, I was quite literally speechless and he said, 'Is that a yes?' I said YES of course that's a YES."
They reportedly rekindled their romance in April 2021, having been originally engaged in 2002.
Lopez also comments on a period of self-reflection that stemmed from motherhood, after separating from singer-actor Marc Anthony, left as a single parent to twins.
"I just didn’t understand what it was to care for myself, to not put somebody else’s feelings and needs —and your need for them to love you — in front of taking care of yourself,” she says, musing on her past romantic relationships. “You turn yourself into a pretzel for people and think that that’s a noble thing, to put yourself second. And it’s not."
After questioning why she wasn't happy, and certain patterns repeating in life, she made a change. "And finally I was just like, Ugh! It’s time to figure me out because I need to be good for these babies," Lopez explains.
Fast forward to early 2021, shortly after her engagement with Alex Rodriguez was called off, she and Affleck reconnected via email, and then in person.
"Obviously we weren’t trying to go out in public,” says Lopez. “But I never shied away from the fact that for me, I always felt like there was a real love there, a true love there. People in my life know that he was a very, very special person in my life. When we reconnected, those feelings for me were still very real.”
While she's not sure she recommends it for everyone, she believes in her own fairytale ending.
“Sometimes you outgrow each other, or you just grow differently. The two of us, we lost each other and found each other. Not to discredit anything in between that happened, because all those things were real too," she says on her own experience.
Lopez adds, "You go through all these relationships, and you’re searching and you’re connecting and you’re disconnecting with people, and you’re like, 'God, is this just what life is?' Like a carousel, roller coaster, carnival ride? And then it settles. But the journey to that is the mystery for everybody.”
The pair live in LA as parents to her 14-year old twins, Emme Maribel Muñiz and Maximilian David Muñiz, and Affleck's three children from his marriage to Jennifer Garner, Violet Affleck, 16, Seraphina Rose Elizabeth Affleck, 13, and Samuel Garner Affleck, 10.
Her husband's ex-wife, Lopez says, is "an amazing co-parent, and they work really well together," though she is mindful that the transition of the blended family needs to be handled with care.
"What I hope to cultivate with our family is that his kids have a new ally in me and my kids have a new ally in him, someone who really loves and cares about them but can have a different perspective and help me see things that I can’t see with my kids because I’m so emotionally tied up," she explains.
The New York Times piece published in July, written by Jennifer Weiner, reads in part, "Ms. Affleck may be surrendering to the power of love with this, her fourth marriage. But given the cringe-y history behind the practice, a woman taking her husband’s last name feels to me like a submission — a gesture that doesn’t say “I belong with him” so much as “I belong to him.” And at this fraught moment for feminism in America, a woman like the former Jennifer Lopez deciding to change her name feels especially dispiriting."
Weiner adds, "Between the recent Supreme Court decision, and #MeToo, and the prospect of attacks on contraception and same-sex marriage, feminists have bigger fish to fry.
"But these gestures matter. Names confer identity. And married women continue to give theirs up, while married men rarely reciprocate."
But while some might not see Lopez's decision to change her last name as particularly helpful for society with the huge influence she has, it is ultimately still her decision, and she does still care about fighting for what's right.
Speaking on her children and her own mindset, Lopez tells Vogue, "This generation is beautifully aware and involved and brave, and they will call bull**** on stuff really quick. I want my kids to stand up for themselves and the things they care about.
"I want all the little girls in the world to get loud. Get loud! Say it when it’s wrong. Don’t be afraid. I was afraid for a long time: afraid to not get the job, to p*** people off, afraid that people wouldn’t like me. No.”
Vogue's December 2022 issue is available on newsstands nationwide on 15 November.
Watch: 'Happier than ever': Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck's kids have 'adjusted' to life as a blended family