Here’s Why Previous Generations Looked Older Than They Were

When I was in college my fraternity had composites of previous classes around the house, all the way back to the 50s, and the 18-22-year-olds in those composites didn’t look a day under 47.

I’d always just assumed it was something I was making up, but not long ago Twitter user and former MLB pitcher Brandon McCarthy went viral making asking this question:


And the responses kind of shocked me:

In fairness, Tom Cruise might be a vampire, but still…

The Rock has a serious Benjamin Button thing going on.

Now, well-known YouTuber, Michael Stevens, from Vsauce, is explaining why people “looked older”


In a nutshell, there are a variety of reasons we perceive those from previous generations differently.

Turns out biology, health habits, fashion, and even skincare routines have changed a lot in 50 years, and thus how we look to each other has also changed.

From the biological perspective, a lot has changed and a lot continues to change. Folks today are actually aging slower than past generations, with life expectancy on the rise in the U.S. over the past century.

So, relatively, the phrase “50 is the new 40” is kinda true, and a large part of what we’re experiencing in seeing people from the past as comparatively ancient.

Fashion and trends also play a big role.

Someone pointed out that if you update hairstyles alone, the women from Golden Girls look 30 years younger.

You can watch the full 23-minute video here. It’s pretty fascinating.


Jason Mustian

Jason is a Webby winning, Short-Award losing humor writer and businessman. He lives in Texas with his amazing wife and four sometimes amazing kids.