Do We Really Want to Be Cougars?

Barneys, a very upscale New York department store with branches around the country, recently unveiled a new advertising campaign. Shot by fashion photographer Bruce Weber, the campaign is titled “Better Than Ever” and features what the retailer describes as  “some of the most iconic women from the past four decades of fashion: Christie Brinkley, Brooke Shields, Stephanie Seymour Brant, Pat Cleveland, Veronica Webb, Kirsten Owen, Elaine Irwin, Kiara Kabukuru, Bethann Hardison, and Susanne Bartsch.” All famous models, all ranging in age from nearly 40 to just over 60.

Their partners in the ads? Gorgeous men, who appear to be in their late 20s.

Bruce Weber Christie BrinkleyThe women look great, and in many of the ads are being worshiped by the men. But even so, the ads bothered me. Do we really want to be cougars? Do we really need young men to make us feel sexy? I know that for some women this is a turn on. But when I look at these pictures, I see a bunch of needy boys.  I already have children. I don’t want the object of my sexual desire to resemble them.

A few years ago I befriended a 24-year-old man. We met at a business dinner, and I was struck by his deep knowledge of the industry we both worked in. He had rich and famous friends, and it was clear from that first night that he was used to living high on the hog, but with someone else picking up the tab. We met for lunch a few weeks later, and when the bill came, he immediately pushed it toward me, not even interrupting the conversation. I hadn’t been interested in him sexually to begin with, but if I had, that would have been a complete turn off.  The last thing I want is another 20-something to take care of. My fantasies may run to tight-bodied men dressed in black neoprene, but I want them to be old enough to support themselves.

I would also find it hard to be with someone who had fewer wrinkles and rolls than I do. It’s the same self-consciousness that used to rear its ugly head if the man I was sleeping with had smaller thighs than I did. In the film, “Cherie,” Michelle Pfeifer plays a retired courtesan who falls in love with a much younger man, played by Rupert Friend. Their story is a sad one, and the decades between the characters ultimately lead to tragedy.

Being a cougar sounds exhausting. There’s so much upkeep involved! I’ll trade a little on the hard body front for a man who doesn’t need me to look like a fashion model to turn him on.

What’s your point of view on cougars?

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Image via Barneys