You’re defying age and almost every other human standard? Congrats, you’ve unlocked the J-Lo effect. You’ve set the bar higher for everyone else? J-Lo effect once again. You’re dating a man whose hotness has now multiplied because of you? Ding-ding-ding, J-Lo effect.
Jennifer Lopez has done it all. Whether it’s frolicking under the Capri sun with her former flame Ben Affleck, showing off what the new 52 looks like, or just being a total badass at work, J-Lo is killing it.
The New York Times recently published an article marvelling at J-Lo’s professional and personal achievements, dubbing it the J-Lo Effect. The multi-hyphenate’s accomplishments include managing to secure $12 million (£8.6 million) to replace Simon Cowell on American Idol, plus booking a Las Vegas residency and the Super Bowl halftime show at 50.
Though she’s had her fair share of flops too, J-Lo has been able to do something other celebrities with a 30-year career have not: stayed relevant.
And her allure has been long recognised. The term J-Lo effect was first popularised in 2012 after Lopez’s American Idol success, setting off a string of other talent show judges asking for more pay.
A new context has also been added to the phrase – the desirability of Ben Affleck as a result of their pairing. By virtue of being with with her, Affleck is considered more desirable, or so the theory goes.
On Urban Dictionary, the J-Lo effect has a different meaning altogether – describing it as wearing tight trousers to make one’s butt look bigger.
To get more of an idea of this diverse concept, we spoke to Dr Hannah Hamad, a media and communication lecturer at Cardiff University, to ask what she understands the phrase to mean.
Jason Armond via Getty Images
Jennifer Lopez performing in May 2021.
“The J-Lo effect is a phrase that has entered pop culture parlance and the celebrity gossip lexicon to refer to a phenomenon whereby the perceived sexual desirability of a man increases when he successfully couples with a woman who commentators and observers understand to exist in celebrity culture with higher levels of social, cultural and industry capital than him,” Dr Hamad explains. “In other words, she is ‘hotter’ than him, and she is ‘out of his league’.
“However, his levels of capital increase as a result of his association with her via their romantic or sexual relationship.”
Another connotation of the phrase is how Lopez bucks the trend for female celebrities being lambasted for ageing.
“In experiencing the levels of cultural cachet and industry power that she is at this time of her life (her 50s), she is bucking cultural and industry trends that have seen female stars criticised in the media for ageing appropriately – see for example the scorn that was heaped upon Renee Zellweger and the scrutiny to which she was subjected as a result of a noticeable change to her facial appearance in 2014,” Dr Hamad says. “Equally, we saw this in the ‘tragic spinster’ discourse that has attached itself to celebrity gossip media’s coverage of Jennifer Aniston in the post-Friends decades.”
She adds: “Lopez is not only escaping what previously appeared to be the inevitability of these cultural scripts of ‘bad ageing’ that attach themselves to female stars as they enter the mid-life decades, but is rather successfully channelling renewed confidence, energy and vitality into her celebrity career both on screen [her central figure in Hustlers is a glorious example of this] and beyond, as we see in the noteworthy levels of positive interest being taken in her reunion with Affleck.”
The rest of us might not have her fame and fortune, but we can certainly channel J-Lo’s big, baddie energy.
Life coach Kiran Singh says it’s more a state of mind. “Confidence is a daily practice. You need to connect with yourself and call out the limiting thoughts every single day,” she tells HuffPost UK. “You need to get yourself to a point where you become your own best friend, your own coach and your own cheerleader. Where you know how to talk yourself through moments of doubt and pump yourself up to take action.”
Singh believes confidence is a “by-product of action”, so you need to develop your own hype routine to pump yourself up to take action.
“Learn to love and validate yourself so that the opinions of others are irrelevant,” she says. “You do this by getting to know yourself and what you like about yourself and living in alignment with that and by overcoming the limiting stories that you are not enough through reprogramming your mindset.”
And lastly, remember “confidence is an ever-evolving journey, and the development of it is one that you will be on forever”. So if you’re not Jenny from the yacht just yet, there’s still time.