Never has there been a more unpleasant term for an older woman than cougar. And yet, several beauty companies have used it either as a shade name, a product name or even a brand name.
To me, there’s nothing playful about the term cougar when used to describe women; it strikes as predatory, hungry and desperate. I would never, never even countenance a beauty brand with the name cougar in it but I’m curious about the way that brands name their products to target us, the beauty+.
When I look at titles around the anti-ageing market, we have Dr Perricone Crinkle Eraser, Carita Supreme Wrinkle Eraser, Natura Bisse The Cure, Soap & Glory Make Yourself Youthful Super Serum, Rodial Cougar Skin Zero Gravity Cream and Bliss The Youth As We Know It. These are just a few examples of how a name can be instantly derogatory and I have many to pick from. Never mind whether they actually work or not, from the moment we look at a product named like this, we’re instantly aware of our ‘flaws’. I was even having a quick peek at my own cleavage after finding Crinkle Eraser. You would think that none of them has any respect for the ageing process. Oh, wait! They don’t!
Faced with a daily onslaught of the beauty industry battering us with everything that wrong, and almost never looking at things that are right about us (is there anything about beauty+ women that doesn’t need ‘curing’ beauty-wise?), we have to, to some degree, hold ourselves responsible for feeding the beast. The assumption, when we look at beauty products, is somehow that we must need it. It’s us that’s at fault for not having creaseless skin, or having a bit of cellulite.
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I wonder at what point we’ll be able to look at the normal ageing process and think it looks like something that looks, well, normal. If there will ever be a point where we don’t feel pressured to try and erase all signs of age… It’s only ever going to happen if we’re vocal and confident that it’s perfectly okay to be an older woman. Creases are irrelevant.
As I have said before, we have choices in how we age and I feel personally that I want to be experimental with that, but what I don’t want is to walk into a beauty department and instantly have every possible beauty flaw in the whole world for being my age.
If you think there’s no chance of that ever happening, think again. The beauty industry is a wise bird – it goes where the trends are. If it becomes a trend that older women don’t want their faces under constant scrutiny and that they don’t want to be repaired or have their youth recaptured, but they do want clear, glowing skin that feels smooth to the touch and comfortable to live in, the industry will follow. It’s all up to us to be trend makers, not trend followers.
As for the brands that think cougar is in any way, shape or form, an aspiration of older women, it’s so misguided and derogatory that it’s just derisory.
By Jane aged 49
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