“Cougars” are popularly defined as women in their 40s (or older) who date significantly younger men, generally at a 10-year age gap or more. Pop culture paints the cougar as predatory and pathetically desperate, but women have recently begun fighting the stereotype: real cougars, they argue, are confident, successful, single women over the age of 40, who — tired of unromantic and narrow-minded men their own age — date younger, more active and more adventurous men.
Determine the woman’s age.
The generally accepted age group for cougars is 40-plus; however, some people go as low as 35 in their definition. With new creams and procedures available, many men and women are able to look much younger than they are. Some things you can look for, which apply to both sexes:
- Dry, dull and/or thinning hair: both men and women experience a decrease in the quality of their hair as they get older. You might notice that an older woman has brittle-looking hair that lacks the shine and fullness of younger people. Her hair might also be dyed to cover grey hairs.
- Sparse eyebrows and eyelashes: as we age, our hormones drop and hair growth slows, which can make our eyebrows and eyelashes less lush. Some women might opt for pencilled or tattooed eyebrows, and eyelash extensions — so it still might be difficult to judge their age based on these factors alone.
- Thinner lips and eroded tooth enamel: our lips wrinkle and thin with age, and our teeth wear down and erode. You might notice thin lines around an older woman’s mouth, thinner lips (maybe partly hidden with lipliner), and duller or translucent teeth.
- Thin skin: as men and women get older, the smooth skin on their necks gain ridges and wrinkles — unless they use Botox or have a face-lifts, that is. Thin skin will also be apparent on the hands, making veins, knuckles, and tendons more visible.
- Dry and saggy knees and elbows: with age the skin around our knees and elbows begins to dry and sag around the joints. The skin around the elbows in particular can become darker and much drier than the surrounding skin.
Evaluate her makeup.
Evolutionary psychology has shown that when evaluating women’s desirability, physical attractiveness is a more important factor than it is in evaluating men’s desirability.This means that while less attractive men might still be desirable based on their intelligence, humor, income, etc., women are still largely judged on how they look. For this reason, it makes sense that with age, a woman might amp up her makeup routine to try to hide the signs of aging that will make her less desirable.
- You might notice an older woman wearing more foundation and structuring creams and shades to help give her face a smooth, contoured look.
- She might also be more likely to wear lipliner to make her lips look fuller, a brow pencil to fill in her eyebrows, and blush to make her cheeks look more youthful and rosy.
- Contouring is a popular makeup technique right now, used by women in all age groups, from their teens upward.
Don’t think you can judge her by her fashion sense.
The comical cougar stereotype is of a woman wearing clothes that are much too young, and often too tight, for her — usually in tacky fabrics such as animal print. The reality is that women of any age can dress in a tasteless and unflattering manner.
- How a woman dresses — regardless of her age — depends largely upon her own personal sense of style.
- While women of all ages wear push-up bras, older women may find them even more useful as their breasts will sag with age.
Pay attention to her self-confidence.
In general, the older a woman gets, the better she knows herself and what she likes, and the more confident she becomes. Some signs that she is confident:
- Good posture: whether sitting or standing, a person with good self-confidence will likely have a straight back and a head that is well-balanced on the neck, with the chin pointed neither too high nor too low.
- Relaxed: a person with good self-confidence will likely seem relaxed in most situations, perhaps looking around the room with an easy smile, or just seeming generally calm and at peace with herself. She won’t be very fidgety.
- Eye contact: confident people make eye contact and maintain it in social interactions. That said, there’s a difference between maintaining eye contact and staring intimidatingly at someone: looking someone in the eye roughly 60% of the time you are talking to them is a good rule of thumb.