Looking back at my dating experiences I realise that the majority of men with whom I've gone out with, dated or had a relationship with, have been younger than me. I'm not talking about the Demi Moore - Ashton Kutcher 15 year age gap however but enough of a difference to put my self-consciousness on high alert. Facial lines appear more pronounced despite the plethora of anti aging creams in the bathroom cabinet and the once every 2 monthly visit to the hair salon increases to 4-6 weekly, should he,God forbid, find a stray grey hair or two.
The pressure to stay looking young is evident in all that we read in magazines and watch in movies or on TV however it is fiercly highlighted when dating a younger man. Referring back to Demi More and Ashton Kutcher's 15 year age gap, it is rumoured that she has spent £250k since 2007 on plastic surgery, liposuction and even knee surgery. If an A list Hollywood star, as naturally beautiful and talented as Demi Moore, feels the pressure to stay young looking for her toy boy husband, then what hope is there for the rest of us? Does Michael Douglas feel under pressure to embark on a quest for eternal youth in order to stop his stunning wife Catherine Zeta Jones runnning for the (Hollywood) hills? Apparantley so. It's been reported that he has undergone a face and brow lift. But even Catherine Zeta Jones herself has had help from the surgeon's knife in maintaining her beauty.
So is the pressure to literally peel back the years from having a younger spouse? or really from being in the fickle scrutinising eye of the mass media?
"Cougars" are the vastly growing number of savvy ladies on the hunt for younger men. This woman has the self confidence to command awestruck respect from her younger prey that she can manipulate him to go along with whatever she says. Enough life experiences have taught her what matters and what doesn't and she has faced her insecurities and fears. She is not going to bother her latest squeeze with feminine frivalities that often turn men off, ie: "Does my bum look big in this?". She knows what she looks good in and what to avoid. Probably most importantly for her less experienced partner, is that she can teach him a thing or two between the sheets...with the light on and not worrying about showing her stretch marks or cellulite I might add! She's there for a good time for as long as it lasts. No strings, no long term commitment. This seems to be a happy middle ground in recapturing your lost youth yet not worrying whether he sticks around or not. No wonder "Mrs Robinson" is still such an iconic role model for these temptress ladies.
As a society though are we still made to feel a little uncomfortable at the thought of an older woman dating a much younger man? Were eyebrows raised when Michael Douglas married Catherine Zeta Jones, 25 years his junior?Rod Stewert married Penny Lancaster with also a 25 year age gap? Not really. Some thought it may not last, the younger spouses wanting to stay up late and party perhaps. But these men bring alot to the table. Not just wealth but experience, maturity and most importanly less likely to stray. Turn the tables, however and we are not so readily able to accept such an age gap between an older woman and younger man.
But why? Because we have been brain washed by the mass media that beauty and youth are the only attributes that serve a woman. We have been led to believe that men are influenced first and foremost by physical beauty and not inner beauty. And yes even in the 21st century. Lets be honest ageism is very much alive and kicking down the self esteem of women and men eveywhere. You would be a liar and a fool to deny it. The proof? Just look in the magazines and shops. Anti wrinkle this and anti age that. The companies that make such products would not survive if we were not slaves to the beauty industry. Ladies, we are the ones who buy into this misconception that we are only as good as the moisturiser we use. And whilst I wholeheartedly subscribe to taking care of oneself both in health and appearance, I do not want to waste my life worrying whether I look 10 years younger than I really am.
Can you imagine a world where make up, hair dye, plastic surgery, botox, anti wrinkle creams and designer clothers did not exist? In that world we would have to look for something else to act as our self worth. How about intelligence, sense of humour, kindness, patience and a positive outlook. Guess what? I already have these attributes and so do most men and women out there. It's just a shame that they are not the primary focus in the mass media, the most powerful influence in our lives.