opinion

Today, the old person face app is giving us grey hair and wrinkles. But there aren't many LOLs in ageing.

Today your social feeds are full of everything that is usually missing.

Wrinkles. Crows’ feet. White hair. Drooping chins. Sunspots.

Yes, “old” people are replacing smooth-skinned yoga influencers and your work-wife’s breakfast smoothie as the overarching theme on Instagram and Facebook this week.

It’s all thanks to the Face App, which “ages” your self-portrait so you can post a selfie of past and future-you for LOLs.

 

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I mean…probs????‍♀️

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And oh, how the Young People are LOL-ing. “Eek, terrifying,” is the most common reaction, along with exaltations to use more moisturiser, get to your Botox appointment, stat, and maybe even die young, before such a horrific fate as ageing can befall you.

Harmless fun? Sure.

Also irritating in the extreme? Absolutely.

Even in 2019, when we are finally in a cultural moment where diversity is celebrated, ageing is one of the very worst things that can happen to a person. It’s fine to be whoever you are (“You do you, babe”), as long as that person looks like they are aged between 15-40. After that, your face falls into the “sad” bucket. Possibly a bit of a “lazy” bucket, if you haven’t kept up with the regimen required to stay 32 for ever.

That’s until, if you’re lucky, around the age of 70 – after years of learned wisdom and experience and heartbreak and joy and suffering and study and work and loves lost and found – you might get described as “cute” by people a fraction of your age.

In 2019 we eat to stay young, spend thousands on looking young, suffer through needle-phobia to erase signs of not being young, dress young, blur our lines with primers and filters and Facetune. Part of the novelty of seeing ourselves – and the celebrities we Like and Follow – on Instagram with the old-face app is that we’ve forgotten what age does to a face, if you don’t mess with it.

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Being old isn’t a barrier, really, in 2019, when you can stay active and relevant if you follow all the rules – anti-oxidants, weight-bearing training, incidental exercise wherever you can grab it. But we all live in the visual medium of Instagram now, where the only thing that matters is how you look.

And looking old is the greatest sin there is.

The invisibility of ageing, particularly for women, goes far beyond stopping you getting served quickly at the bar. It  can also stop you getting a job.

So yes, looking old sucks.

Unless it’s for a hilarious app craze, of course. Then we’re on board.

As the wrinkled faces keep popping up, and the comments – “Should have laid off the wine!” – keep scrolling, a singular thought keeps recurring: You should be so f*cking lucky.

Because ageing is not the worst thing that can happen to a young and beautiful person. The worst thing that can happen to a young and beautiful person is that they never get to age. That their skin never crepes. That their eyes never get to crease with laughter lines. That the privilege of the years clocking over, perspectives expanding and body-shape shifting is never afforded to them.

And the elderly are not a joke. Far from being respected in western culture, they are frequently marginalised and mistreated – witness the horrifying stories pouring out of Australia’s Royal Commission into Aged Care. If that’s the extreme end of elder-abuse, the more benign incidents include the broad invisibility of women of a certain age. Of the likelihood of being replaced by a younger model, at work or home. Of being (whisper it) irrelevant, a figure of fun.

Yes, Face App is fun. Looking into the future and glimpsing back over our shoulders to the past is entertaining.

But while we filter, let’s hold on to the fact that ageing faces aren’t a horror show. Having lived enough life to wear wrinkles should be something to aim for, to wish for and to respect.

Holly Wainwright hosts our family-life podcast This Glorious Mess with Andrew Daddo. You can follow her on Facebook, here, and buy her novels, here

Have you done the Face App ageing filter? How does it make you feel? 

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