Jennifer Revolution: It’s Our Time Now

October 30, 2023

We’re here, we’re named Jennifer and we are in charge. We are your boss. We are your overlord.  We are everywhere.  Jennifer was the number one girls’ name for a glorious 15 years between 1970 and 1984. It was a top ten name for 25 years from 1966-1991. Everyone has at least one Jennifer in their lives.  We are your wives, ex-girlfriends, moms, fun aunts, daughters, crazy cousins, the friends of your mom and your friend’s mom. They really should rebrand Gen X as Jen X.  

Jennifers have waited our whole lives for this moment. We have finally risen to power. We are in charge of payroll, your town, the principal of your kid’s school, your HOA president, your lawyer and your alibi. We are the one supervisor at the electric company that can fix that billing error once and for all. Barbie might think she’s done a lot, but she has nothing on us.

I was born in 1972, the peak year for Jennifers (and Jenifers), with over 64,000 of us born. The next closest name was Michelle/Michele with 30,000 Michelles. Which sounds like a lot of Michelles until you realize that there are over (2) Jennifers for every Michelle. I went to high school with 27 Jennifers. That’s the truth about my senior class and also the name of a catchy song by Joe Doughty. Not as catchy as Jenny/867-5309, but certainly cleaner.  I learned about the 27 Jennifers song from… a Jennifer I met at a women’s networking event.  

Let me get Jennifer pet peeves out of the way. Yes, my name is spelled with one N. No, I didn’t spell it that way on purpose, my mom did.  She thought she was being original, but if she really wanted to be original, she would not have named me Jenifer. And just because there is one N there is no reason to add a second F.  Please stop doing that. And guys, stop telling Jennifers with a grim that you used to date a Jennifer or, worse, in my case, a Jenifer with one N, it never ceases to be creepy. And please, on behalf of all Jennifers, you can call us Jen, but please, please don’t call us Jenny. Jenny is a fighting word.  Other than the few Jennifers that chose to go by Jenny, Jennifers never, and I mean never, want to be referred to as Jenny.

Jennifers are a loyal and friendly group, no matter whether it is spelled Jennifer, Jeniffer, Jenniffer or Jenifer. Jennifers share a special unspoken bond.  We instinctively like other Jennifers because we live and understand the burden of this ridiculously common name.  Part of being a Jennifer is the recognition that you are, literally, not the only person who matters. You are not even the only Jennifer that does. It’s hard to be self-centered if you are a Jennifer.  We are used to hearing someone call “Jen!” only to discover that they were looking for a different Jennifer. Which is fine because at least they were looking for a Jennifer in the first place. We know it’s not all about us.

Wherever we go and whatever we do, we can always count on their being other Jennifers. And unlike our many friends named Karen (whom I love and who have an undeservedly bad rap), our name thankfully remains untarnished. There are currently (6) Jennifers in my phone contacts.  At some point in our childhood most Jennifers had a bestie named Jennifer. I know I did. Adulthood has not changed much. I recently went to back-to-school night for my daughter and there were (4) moms named Jennifer in the class. Which makes sense given there were (4) Jennifers in my high school French class and (4) Jennifers in my 6th grade Girl Scout troop.  Several of my daughter’s friends also have moms named Jennifer. Whenever I meet one, there is this knowing look and nod of understanding. That is because Jennifers are a literal subculture.

Since the 1970s many of the most popular entertainers and fictional characters have been Jennifers. One of the best known fictional Jennifers is “Jenny” (Jennifer) Cavilleri from Love Story, arguably the biggest tear-jerker of all-time. Many iconic 1980s movies have a character named Jennifer, including Back to the Future (Jennifer Parker) and WarGames (Jennifer Mack). On TV we watched Jennnifer Keaton grow up on Family Ties. In the 90s Dawson’s Creek featured character Jen Lindley and actress Jennifer Morrison. More recently, the character Jen Barber taught the IT Crowd much needed social skills.

Jennifers make movies great. Jennifer Grey was Baby in Dirty Dancing. Jennifer Beals was the movie Flashdance and Jennifer Lawrence was Katniss in The Hunger Games (and stole the show in a bunch of other fantastic movies). Jennifer Aniston was not only was the star of Friends, in the 1990s she had a classic role as Joanna in Office Space. Jennifer Garner was Jenna (FYI Jennas are not Jennifers) in the comfort movie 13 Going on 30.  Stifler’s Mom was Jennifer Coolidge. If it sounds like Jennifers are superheroes, it’s because we are. She-Hulk’s alter-ego is named Jennifer Walters.

There’s even a movie called Jennifer’s Body and another called Jennifer 8 (mysteriously there is no 1-7). There are novels about us too, my favorite being Jennifer Government by Max Berry, a great dystopian read whether you are a Jennifer or not. Speaking of the government, the current Secretary of Energy is Jennifer Granholm. Jennifer Wexton and Jennifer McClellan are Congresswomen from Virginia. There are countless Jennifer mayors, state reps, CEOs and businesswomen across the nation.

Jennifers sing to us too. Who can forget Jennifer Lopez’s Super Bowl performance?  Jenifer (one N, no surname) is a French songstress and superstar. If that’s not enough Jennifer, there even used to be a furniture store called “Jennifer Convertibles.”

I hesitated whether to name specific Jennifers in this article as there are so many talented and wonderful Jennifers out there in all walks of life, not just entertainers. I thought doing so would offend the countless Jennifers who aren’t mentioned by name until I realized that if anyone would understand my dilemma, it’s Jennifers. I love and identify with every Jennifer, and wish I had time to acknowledge each and every one of you. But the magic of being a Jennifer is literally being okay with just being a part of Team Jennifer, knowing you are a part of something bigger than yourself. I cannot think of one Jennifer that I do not like, either in my personal life or a famous one. If a Jennifer succeeds, we all win. That is the source of our ever-increasing power, our unspoken and real bond.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it with all the Jennifers, Jenifers, Jeniffers and Jens in your life.

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