So, at end of this month, I turn 40. If you are a teenager reading this or are in your early 20s, that probably seems really old.
Johnny Depp. Brad Pitt and George Clooney are now in their 50s. Sandra Bullock will be 49 this year! And both Gwyneth Paltrow and Cameron Diaz are older than me. 40 is NOT that old.
At first, admittedly, I felt a little nauseous every time I thought about being in my 40s. Mid-life. Half my life was gone, probably the best half. I noticed I was beginning to sag in places I didn’t think were actually physically possible to sag in. The skin beneath my eyes seemed to be perpetually purple. Where I used to be the youngest person in the room, I suddenly became the oldest. Meh.
But then, I don’t know what happened. Things changed. It struck me, very suddenly, that it’s just a number and I really was the same person I’ve always been. Not only that – okay, my bum might not be as tight as it was, but there are a lot of amazing trade-offs for the (slightly) saggier bum.
Traditionally, a Cougar is a predatory woman who hits on really young dudes. It can still mean that, but now that word has taken on a life of its own. To me, a Cougar is an older woman who wears leather leggings and is cool enough to go out and tear it up with the younglings but smart enough to know when to stop and start drinking water. In my definition, a Cougar is a woman who believes she is still sexy and owns every bit of it. THIS is why I’m boarding the train, next stop Cougar Town.
- While yes, gravity tends to play havoc with the Coug, it also means that she has to work a little harder, eat a little better and generally take more care to maintain. I am healthier now than when I was in my 20s. I might not be as thin, but I am way more toned.
- The Coug realizes that many young men she finds attractive might actually be young enough to be her son. At first this is an icky feeling, but then a kind of freedom takes over. Very few Cougs want to actually have sex with these young men. I KNOW I don’t. So instead, you can talk to these handsome fellows without feeling nervous. In fact, you can actually say “you are so handsome!” in a maternal way that’s not weird (as long as you aren’t slipping him your phone number).
- The Coug has seen fads and trends come and go. She lived through the 80s and she’s not going back to acid wash, no way. The Coug has developed a timeless sense of style that is still hip (because she is still young enough to look at The Sartorial and read Vogue) but old enough to pass on the day-glo headbands. The Coug wouldn’t go near an American Apparel if you paid her.
- The Coug is not in competition with 20-year-olds. She understands that it’s ass, not class. She gets that sometimes, most times, it’s sexier to allude and hint at what might be underneath her clothes. The Coug wants you to wonder about her. She doesn’t give it all away.
- The Coug has money the younger gals don’t. She doesn’t have to shop at Forever 21 or H&M. Even if she doesn’t have money, she is wise enough to understand that it’s better to invest in one gorgeous top than 10 crappy ones that will fall apart after one washing. So usually she has an elegance about her that younger women find it harder to achieve.
- The Coug isn’t interested in a popularity contest. By the time a woman hits her 40s, through perspective, she is able to dismiss a lot of the stupid choices she made because of youth. And also, because it’s been years, she’s forgotten a lot of it! Memory isn’t the Coug’s strong suit. She is comfortable with who she is. She likes herself. She understands that not everybody is going to like her or want to be her best friend and that is okay with her. At this point, she has a lot of friends already.
- The Coug is happy to go out. She is also happy to stay home. She certainly isn’t looking on Facebook or Instagram to see what everyone else is doing and wondering why she wasn’t invited. She doesn’t give a f*&%. She’ll stay home and watch True Blood or weed the garden or organize her closet. She’s smart enough to know how to have fun just about anywhere, including at home, alone.
- The Coug is not interested in drama. At all. She’ll take a pass and extract herself from a dramatic situation because she has learned through her many years that at the end of the day, it’s just not worth it. She has more important things to do than to waste precious time and energy on things she can’t control.
- The divorced Cougar is an especially hot lady. She’s been through the marriage go round. She’s probably had all the kids she wants to have. She’s not counting the few remaining eggs she has left with growing anxiety. She’s not bringing that subtle air of desperation, that fear of a life of spinsterhood to every date, which turns so many men off. The divorced Coug is super sexy to men because she’s already settled down. If it happens again, great, if not, that’s okay too. The “I’m just looking for a fun evening” attitude is the ultimate aphrodisiac to men.
- The married Coug understands that a successful marriage can be based on good and bad years, not necessarily months or weeks. There’s an ebb and flow and there are times when she will feel more connected than others. She doesn’t expect to feel in love every second of the day. She doesn’t need her partner. She wants him, and that makes all the difference.
- Most of all, the Coug understands that whatever she has to let go of in terms of skin elasticity or tummy rolls, she gains in wisdom and self-confidence. Her life may be half over, but she begins to understand more and more that best is actually yet to come.
Featured image via ShutterStock