Mutton dressed like lamb

thong show For those who aren’t in the know, the term “Mutton dressed like lamb” refers to an older woman, dressed (typically inappropriately,) in a style more suitable for a much younger woman. In the picture on the left, while that style isn’t suitable for anyone at any age, it certainly shouldn’t be donned by someone who’s forty years old. For the record, that’s 43 year old Pamela Anderson’s butt we’re looking at (or away from.) And while she’s notorious for dressing – and undressing – inappropriately, the point is that at forty, we shouldn’t be dressing like 20 year olds. More importantly, we shouldn’t want to be dressing or looking like 20 year olds. So why do so many of us want to?

Between the frightening face lifts (Joan Rivers), over zealous lip enhancements (Lisa Rinna) and immovably Botoxed cheeks (Nicole Kidman), some women are falling all over themselves to look as though they haven’t aged. Among the forty crowd, hemlines keep rising and necklines keep plunging.  Even the men are obsessed with looking younger (Kenny Rogers, Micky Rourke) and it’s just as sad, maybe even sadder, when they do it.

The problem with trying so hard to look as though you haven’t aged is that you end up, in a sense, proving that you haven’t aged. And by not aging I mean, not developing a level of wisdom that says the size of my lips is not as important as my character, not having a strong sense of self-worth outside of your appearance, and not coming to the understanding that what people think of you is far less important than how you feel about yourself. And I’m certainly not saying that every woman who has some kind of work done on her face is lacking wisdom and self worth, but I am suggesting that when some of us go to the lengths that we’re going to to look so much younger, we’ve got to ask ourselves who we’re doing it for.

Many women will argue that Botox and facelifts do help them feel better about themselves, but if that’s the case, why do so many keep going back for more surgery, more injections, more Botox? Look, if at some point in the future my face starts sliding off my skull, I might choose to get some work done – I’ll never say never. But corrective surgery is very different from trying to stop the hands of time. I wonder if the women who’ve lived to be 100 in our society spent as much time worrying about their physical appearance as we do today? I’m thinking probably not.

The ‘cougarizaton’ of America – Empowering or Desperate?

cougar town Every time I turn on the television these days I’m bombarded by images of, and conversations about cougars. Just so we’re all clear, Wikipedia (the most reliable source of information on the planet) defines a cougar as:

A woman over 40 who sexually pursues younger men, typically more than eight years her junior.

Yeah. About that… This TV season is rife with cougars. Over on ABC, Courtney Cox Arquette stars in Cougar Town, a sitcom about a forty-something, newly divorced mom returning to the dating game. Jenna Elfin’s upped the ante over on CBS by getting pregnant by her much younger, one night stand. Her show Accidentally on Purpose, follows Elfman as she deals with the ups and downs of becoming a first-time mom later in life and by a much younger man. These women are beautiful, smart, and empowered, or at least trying to be.

Both shows are comedies and they’ve got their funny moments, but somewhere in between all the jokes and laughter there’s a little bit of desperation and sadness. Elfman’s character even alludes to it on her show as she’s preparing to mingle at a club (pre-pregnancy) and asks her girlfriends whether her look is “empowering or desperate.” Who knew the line between empowering and desperate was that thin? And if you have to ask…

The thing is, as women, I kind of feel like we should be beyond the stage where empowering behavior equals acting like men. Especially when acting like them involves behavior that we used to frown upon. For years when we saw much older men with younger women, we secretly, or not so secretly, wondered about the nature of the relationship. We questioned its sincerity, calling her a gold digger and him a perv. And look, I’m certainly not saying that all relationships with a significant age difference are questionable, but Anna Nicole Smith and her 80 year old husband for example, really? Of course that’s an extreme example, it’s not so cut and dry when the age difference is 10 years or less, but when men buy their convertibles and leave their wives for younger women, we all groan and mumble things about mid-life crisis. So, why are we now celebrating the behavior when women do it?  And before I start getting hate mail – Not every older woman who dates a younger man is a cougar. Many of these relationships are not predatory as the term cougar suggests.

So here are the questions of the day. Why are so many people, men and women alike, embracing the term ‘cougar’ and why is the definition of ‘cougar’ morphing to include all women over forty who date younger men? Am I the only one who notices the ‘cougarization of women in their forties?’  And is the term cougar empowering or desperate?

Share your thoughts in the comment section, on our Facebook fan page our follow us on Twitter @womenatforty.

Image Source: ABC Cougar Town

You’ve come a long way baby: Rachel sends a message to her mini me…

Rachel and Roland I shared my letter to my former self, now Rachel shares hers…

  1. Older brothers, although loud, sweaty and annoying, will protect your honor, pave the way for you with your parents and one day become the men of whom you are more proud than you can express.
  2. When your grandparents smother you with kisses and hugs and fawn all over you… When your maternal grandmother crochets sweaters, scarves and blankets for you and your paternal grandmother teaches you to bake coconut cakes and takes you shopping at Bamberger’s… When your grandpa takes you fishing on the Vineyard and your Pop introduces you to the music of Miles Davis, Benny Goodman and Dave Brubeck… When they tell you the stories of your familial history and remind you how important it is to act with integrity and the value of your reputation—CHERISH those moments! You’ll find those moments comforting for the rest of your life and you will be eternally grateful for having had the privilege of knowing such interesting and honorable people.
  3. Define yourself; don’t let others do it for you. I assure you that in 10, 15, 20 years and beyond, you won’t really care who thinks you aren’t black enough or that you talk too properly or that you must be stuck-up because you don’t want to go to the party. In your 30s, you will not remember their names—until they request to friend you on Facebook and you end up having to de-friend them or put them on privacy lock-down because they are entirely too interested in the minutia of your life.
  4. Enjoy carefree summers on Fire Island or the Vineyard while you can! Soon, between global warming, UV rays and obnoxious tourists, the summer sanctuary of your childhood will become a very, very different place. Enjoy digging for sand crabs and poking jellyfish with a stick as they will become stories of legend you will tell your children, nieces and nephews.
  5. Know the difference between friends and acquaintances. Acquaintances are people you know, you speak to regularly and you hang out with occasionally. Friends are people who know you—warts and all. You might speak to them regularly, but even if you don’t, you pick up where you left off as though no time has passed. Every truly great time in your life included or was the result of one of your true friends. Oh—VERY important: relatives can be some of your best friends ever. Continue reading You’ve come a long way baby: Rachel sends a message to her mini me…

You’ve come a long way baby: 20 things I’d tell you now

baby grace cropped 20 things you need to know – Hey you, standing over there looking tough and cute the way little girls often do, it’s me, well you – in about 36 years. Some things haven’t changed much. With the exception of the ribbon, your hair looked a lot like that this morning, and that stance, you still got that. You often have that same ‘four parts curiosity, one part ‘what the hell are you looking at”  look on your face even at this age – And the legs…well, like I said, some things haven’t changed much.

I wish I could protect you from, and prepare you for all that lies ahead, but I can’t. No one can really. But what I can do is share some things that only I’ll be able to. Some people think the past, present and future are all happening at once, so who knows. I know you won’t understand everything I’m saying, but take notes, you’ll need them.

  1. Some of the people in your life will disappoint you, lie to you, hurt you. Some of them are just stupid. Others are just evil. Forgive them all, stupid and evil alike, and move on. Remember what they did and learn from it. Don’t hold what they’ve done to you against anyone else.
  2. That thing you want to do with your hair in the eighties. Don’t. You leave dozens of grease spots up and down the east coast because of it, and Chris Rock will mock it mercilessly in a documentary he releases in 2009.
  3. Try to get that eating thing under control early – believe me, you’ll be fighting that battle for years. In the meantime, live your life and do the things you want to do, regardless of what the scale says.
  4. You’re going to have several really great ideas for businesses. Instead of talking yourself out of it, just do it. You are smarter, stronger and more resilient than you know.
  5. You know how they said it would be too difficult to be a successful, black, female journalist? Oprah’s like the richest person on the planet now. Seriously. Don’t listen to them. Continue reading You’ve come a long way baby: 20 things I’d tell you now

I can’t believe I’m forty (or almost forty) and…

Thinking woman Yesterday, our guest contributor Jenny talked about the cycle of repeating our mistakes. Her cycle involved constantly moving in and out of relationships. She used the analogy of shampoo instructions – lathering, rinsing, repeating – to describe it. Her post got me wondering, good or bad, what am I still doing at forty that I never thought I would be? I’ve mentioned a major one before – struggling with my weight – but at forty, I can’t believe I still watch and enjoy cartoons, bite my nails on occasion, am single, and sometimes care a little too much what people think.

What can’t you believe you’re still doing at forty? Is there a habit you thought you’d have broken by now, a man you thought you’d have gotten over, or something or someone you can’t believe you’re still waiting for? Share it in the comment section, on our Facebook page or tweet it at We’ll share some of your best comments in a future post!

Image Source: Yiyo