Tinx Talks: Getting Old Is A Privilege, So Why Is A Whole Generation Terrified Of Ageing?

Life is short, so it's time Gen Z stopped berating women for fine lines and sun damage, writes Tinx.


by Grazia Contibutor |
Updated on

One of the most common 'insults' that is hurled on TikTok is that someone looks old. More often than not, the creator at the other end of the remark is not, by any stretch of the imagination, 'old'. A 31-year-old millennial will receive comments like 'I literally thought you were 47' or 'I thought you were my mom’s age'.

Then, a trend popped up recently where users quite literally invited the speculation by asking TikTokers 'How old do I look?'. And before you say it - yes, I too am confused why anyone would blindly ask the internet such a question. But the comments were shocking. People in their late 20s are completely mocked for their appearance. Harsh criticisms of wrinkles and sun spots were common.

One thing feels clear to me: younger generations are seemingly terrified of aging, more so than ever before. One might wonder why Gen-Z, as the self-proclaimed most accepting generation, is so disgusted with people who are simply older than them, but I would argue it’s more their own fear that they are projecting. They operate in a way that suggests they think age might never come for them and that it’s simply embarrassing that the rest of us have fallen prey to Father Time.

But why could this be? Well firstly, there’s the COVID-19 of it all. Quarantine and the pandemic hit Gen-Z at a particularly vulnerable moment. They were young teenagers at the start, and some suggest that people are somewhat frozen in time from when the time the pandemic began, well-articulated in The Pandemic Skip by Katy Schneider. Perhaps these young twenty-somethings are still in the mindset of their teen years, thinking vitriolic language about aging is all just for a laugh.

Then of course, the social media element. The first digitally-native generation, Gen-Z grew up with iPads in their faces from the time they could think, and never had to bother with dial up internet. The result seems to be a hyper-awareness surrounding looks (or Snapchat Dysmorphia as it's since been coined). The sheer volume of filtered and edited images seen by young people is breathtaking. As a result, the younger generations are extremely focused on aesthetics. We’re seeing children as young as nine years old film Sephora hauls on TikTok, showing off skincare products that were designed for adults.

Some would argue that every new generation thinks aging won’t come for them. Some chalk it up to 'just being young', but I beg to differ. There’s an intensity with which Gen-Z critiques those older than them that feels more charged. I remember feeling that I would never age in my twenties, but I don’t remember thinking that someone who was 35 was 'cringe'.

I became an influencer in 2020, and over the past four years, I’ve lost three community members all my age or younger. The first two girls died of cancer. The most recent died in a freak accident. I met Eileen, a college senior, in Aspen this February. We chatted for a while and she told me all about her plans to graduate and what she wanted to accomplish this year. I was struck by her bubbly personality and outgoing nature. We took pictures and said our goodbyes. She died the next morning in a ski accident.

I think about her often - about the unfairness, about the frailty of life. And as I sat researching this piece, looking over TikTok comments of people berating women for their fine lines and sun damage, I couldn’t help but think about how much Eileen would have loved the chance to collect some wrinkles and sun spots. Aging really is a gift.

'To grow old is a privilege' sounds like a platitude a middle-aged supermodel would tell you on TV to get you to buy a retinol cream but it’s true. Each rotation around the sun is a gift not afforded to all. Instead of being offended by the disdain for us over 30s, I’m going to try and be empathetic. I like moving through life grateful for each day, and I can honestly say I love getting older.

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