Year of the Cougar: The Good, the Bad & the Wacky

Cougars were the year’s media darlings.

by Linda Franklin • Guest Writer { View Profile }
Photograph: Photo courtesy of the author.

As the year winds down it is natural for us to reflect on the trends, events and people that made an impact on our culture over the last 12 months. And since the media christened 2009 “The Year of the Cougar,” there was a huge spotlight pointed directly on women over 40. It made us take a good look at ourselves and wonder if we still had what it takes to attract the attention of younger man. “Cougarmania,” the name I gave to this phenom, was something new for us. We were accustomed to playing second fiddle to the cute and perky twentysomethings, but not this year. This year it was all about us, and it was fun to watch the younger women as they fought back, saying we were stealing their men. Young guys were now enamored with the sophistication, the sass, the confidence of the older woman. What an ego boost that was.   
Whether we wanted it or not, women over 40—the Cougars—were the new media darlings. You couldn’t go a day without a new Cougar story emerging somewhere. Then TV started to air shows like The Cougar and Cougar Town, and it became a free-for-all. There was the National Single Cougars Convention, the Cougar Cruise and Cougar Speed Dating. In my opinion, these displays did nothing to enhance the image of seasoned womanhood. We were made to look foolish and that’s exactly what we didn’t need to happen.
The Cougar had now become an embarrassment. Celebrities like Demi, who had launched this craze, didn’t want to be called "cougar" anymore. (For some reason I can’t figure out, she thought "puma" was more appropriate.) And Kim Catrall, notorious for her Samantha Jones role on Sex and the City, declared that the trend of the cougar was "way over."  In other words, we’ve done the work, let’s enjoy the party. These beautiful women were proud to be strong, smart, independent and sexy, but at the same time wanted to disassociate themselves from the seedy image the label had taken on. Women across the country followed suit. We were tired of being portrayed as predators on the prowl, and who can blame us for that?

Whether the label sticks or not, the truth is, Cougars are here to stay. That’s why I will enthusiastically continue my Real Cougar Movement to empower women over 40. We all need the support of other women, and Real Cougars will never accept being defined by the age of the man they choose to be with. All of us are too busy trying to figure out what’s next. Whether it’s starting  our own businesses, creating our financial independence or working on our relationships, we are getting a much clearer picture of what it takes to make us happy.

So what does 2010 hold in store for us? The sky’s the limit. Each of us can create exactly what we want. All we have to do is continue to build momentum and then watch ourselves do things we never ene imagined. That’s why I’m calling 2010 "The Year Real Cougar Women Soar Like never Before." 

Wishing you a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous Holiday Season.  

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