New York Times and the Huffington Post (and the Daily Mail, for good measure, although the Daily Mail piggybacks onto every fake trend story so they don't count) are all aflutter about high school girls who brought younger boys with them to prom this year. "Call it young cougars, a game of confidence or just female empowerment, but the unthinkable during my high school years is now happening all around me and other mothers of my acquaintance," a mother wrote in the Times after her 17-year-old daughter's decided to take a fifteen-year-old to the event. "Some of these young women are not just taking younger boys to prom, but are also in serious relationships with them," the Huffington Post reports. Golly gee, you don't say! And leave it to the Daily Mail to exclaim that "a new legion of young 'cougars' is emerging."
Look, it's derogatory enough to call any woman a cougar, but, to our knowledge (and Urban Dictionary's), these publications aren't even using the term correctly! "Cougar" is supposed to connote a middle-aged women, not just any woman who's dating a younger guy.
Also, dating someone a year or two younger is hardly a trend, even on a slow news day. When the Huffington Post explains that "Bringing a date from a lower grade level to prom is a ritual almost as old as the dance itself," they naturally only mean if you're a dude, but that's not the case for most girls I know — especially those who attended smallish high schools, where both genders regularly brought younger dates to prom because there were seriously slim pickins by the time senior year rolled around.
Let's let go of the term "cougar" once and for all. And no: leopard, cheetah, or any variation thereof is not an acceptable substitute.
Image via Brenda Carson/Shutterstock.