Here's to you, Mrs Robinson
Why more women in their 40s are dating younger men
Long, taut limbs, dewy skin and a toned tummy that would make you weep. But this isn't one of the current crop of twenty-something model lovelies gracing the cover of Vogue Brazil this month – it's Naomi Campbell, aged 42.
In the past, her youthful appearance and earning potential would have defied the laws of nature and the fashion industry – but Campbell's appeal isn't an anomaly.
Across the board, a wealth of famous faces are proving that, while life might not necessarily begin at 40, it certainly doesn't have to end at 39.
Cameron Diaz and Dita Von Teese both say they feel healthier now than in their 20s, while A-listers such as Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Garner reckon they're more content and proud of their achievements.
Outside the realm of the red carpet, women are taking their cues from these feisty, famous forty-somethings and enjoying a life the envy of ladies half their age. A new poll revealed women over 40 are the most confident when it comes to personal style.
Over-40s are also more likely to be satisfied with their sex lives, have a higher libido and boast better orgasms than their younger counterparts.
Vanessa McGrady blogs at 40licious.com and regularly extols the many new-found pleasures of life after the big four-oh.
She says: "The whole premise of my work on 40-licious and the book I'm writing is that the 40s is really the sweet spot of our lives."
She explains: "We have a lifetime of experience and lessons we can use; we are at the height of our personal power; we're earning more and we're able to walk the earth however we want. We become more compassionate people and start thinking about the legacy we want to leave."
With so much to offer, is it any wonder many 40-something women are catnip to younger men?
In her latest film, Helen McCrory plays the part of an older woman in love with a student young enough to be her son. She says the relationship reflects real life. "More and more women are having relationships with younger men," said McCrory (44), in a recent interview.
Celebrity cougars such as Jennifer Lopez (43), who's going out with Casper Smart (25), and Mariah Carey (43), who is married to and Nick Cannon (32), prove the observation.
But reducing the older woman/ younger man match to a purely physical attraction does a discredit to the dynamic.
Earlier this year, Melanie Sykes gushed about her toyboy fiancé, Jack Cockings. Yes, she famously confessed the 27-year-old roofer gave her "the raging horn", but, more importantly, she added: "He is absolutely my equal, in terms of intelligence, humour, ethics, our ideas about family – we just connect on every level."
Candace Bushnell, married to Charles Askegard, 10 years her junior, summed it up well: "The fact that a man is open to being with an older woman suggests that he doesn't give a hang what other people think of him.
"More likely he's confident, open-minded and willing to make his own rules. All of which just happen to be qualities that, much more than a great six-pack, make for a great relationship."
Aaron Taylor-Johnson (22) made an eloquent defence for toyboy lovers when he responded to those critical of his age-gap with wife Sam Taylor Wood (46), saying: "I'm in love, I'm blissfully content. No one's getting hurt. We're in a loving relationship. Everyone who matters is happy. Exactly which bit of that do I have to defend?"
Vanessa agrees: "I think it's weird to psychoanalyse other people's love lives – why can't people just love each other, whether they are old, young, gay or straight?
"I know a lot of women in their 40s who are very, very happy with their much younger spouses and the age difference is not an issue. Women in their 40s are more beautiful, powerful and fitter than ever before, who wouldn't want a piece of that?"