What should our age group be called?

Calling Cougars, Crones and Women of a Certain Age

participate-squareBy Darryle Pollack
WHOA! Network Co-founder

(From the Huffington Post)

What do you call women who aren’t  young anymore but are not yet old? (Not Mom or Ma’am; I mean as a group.)

I started wondering about this when Lynn and I created WHOA! a few months ago. Our premise is that women should be honored MORE as we age, not less; and we couldn’t decide what words would best describe our community.

For a large segment of women over 50, none of the word fit: not just our age but the age we’re living in.  I think it’s time to change the words to fit the changes in us.

Women are living longer and stronger, we’re active, vital, productive way into our sixties and seventies and beyond.

So midlife doesn’t quite cut it.

The icons of this age range – Hillary Clinton, Meryl Streep, Oprah – are chronologically well past “midlife”, but all are certainly still in the middle of things.  How would you categorize their stage of life?

Crones? Way too grim. Way too Grimm.

And don’t get me started on being called seniors. (Although I’m not above getting a senior discount at the movies.)

Women of a Certain Age?

Urban dictionary says this is an ironically polite term for a woman who does not want her actual age known.

So maybe it should really be women of uncertain age?

The origin of this quaint phrase was femmes d’une certaine age. Being French it originally had a sexual connotation: describing older women who (presumably graciously and gracefully) initiate younger men into sexual activity.

Don’t we have a modern spin on that now, in English?

Maybe we all should be called cougars?

Before you diss or dismiss this, think about it:
Cougars are part of the cat family, cats have nine lives. Not a bad metaphor for women who reinvent their lives so often.

Plus, cougar has a strong powerful connotation, which is how many women feel at this time of life.   I’d love the words that categorize us to reflect that.

Why not think up our own?

I’ll start:

WOWs (acronym for Women of Wisdom)
Golden Girls (GG’s for short? )

I can practically hear the groans at that last one.

So how about some of your thoughts?  Please comment below or submit at ideas@WHOAnetwork.com

We can’t wait to hear your ideas!


  1. Myra Goodman says:

    I like “seasoned” (seasoned women).
    It implies “improved” and ready to go, and also a wisdom and maturity. I like the multiple meanings of the word, especially the more literal one of having experienced so many different seasons in our lives.

  2. What happened to baby boomers or just boomers? I know that stands for me and women, but that defines us through life. I’d rather be called a boomer throughout my life than to be defined by each decade I am entering.

    • Lynn Forbes says:

      Jennifer, Boomer were vorn between 1946 and 1964, so if you 48 or 68, for instance, you’re not a Boomer. We need to come up with something that works cross-generationally!

  3. Women Graced With Age… (I tried this out at our last Women At Woodstock retreat. The women in our group liked it!)

    • Lynn Forbes says:

      That’s a good one, Ann. How would we use it as a reference? – WGAer Ann Vorhees Baker is the founder of Women at Woodstock ….

  4. I’m not sure we can wrest Cougar from its Mrs. Robinson connotation, but you make an awfully strong case for it. I like Primer—it has a nice “Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” ring to it!

  5. Cougars is a bit derogatory, no?
    Loved the article!
    I’m thinking …

  6. lynn Houlihan says:

    Hmmm, I’ve been trying to crack this linguistic puzzle for a while. My answer? We should be called, ahem, Gaians as a collective group. The reference is to the Greek goddess Gaia–creator and giver of birth to the Earth and all the Universe. Many other Greek goddesses fit the bill too.

  7. I am going with Wise Woman…which then the plural of us all is Wise Women! Because we ARE!! Those of us in this discussion are, all of us, seasoned, of a certain age, have been cougars or not, (doesn’t make a difference if we have or have not), but we have LIVED, and have, given we are on this list, WORKED to develop wisdom, that the younger women around us are hungry for!! Since this question from WHOA came across my email, I have on more than one occasion referred to myself as a wise woman. The situation went something like this…”what is your age?” My answer…”Well, given that I am now a Wise Woman, you can safely know that I am over 50, I am 58, and proud of it, and proud to say it, and proud of the wisdom those years have graced me with.” It is received with a great deal of appreciation; for the veracity of it, and for the refreshing owning of the years in a joyful manner. It provides a breath of fresh air and hope for everyone in the room, because a woman, any of us, are so at ease with our age, and so proud and grateful for what those years have provided us. It just shines. And illuminates a path for those women coming behind us! And isn’t that what we want to do? Illuminate the path for them with hope, and joy, and clarity of what is possible for them? Wise Woman. That’s my vote.

  8. Andy Fonorow says:

    How about Silver Sisters? OK… well I know we all haven’t gone silver on the outside but we are glowing pretty bright on the inside…Right?

  9. Not crones. I don’t like the sound of crones.

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