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Old Man Look at My Life, I'm a Lot Like You Were
January 17, 2013 12:37 PM   Subscribe

The aging of Obama. "Photos of Barack Obama on Election Night 2008 look like they were taken much longer ago. Now his face has deeper creases and crow’s feet, while his hair has turned white." Maybe damaged cell tips are to blame.
posted by Xurando (89 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yes, it's true.

Dealing with the US Congress can kill a person.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:40 PM on January 17, 2013 [21 favorites]


Yeah, I'm always blown away when I see pictures of George W Bush from 2000.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:40 PM on January 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


Pretty much every president does this, from what I can tell. Clinton in '92 looks like a teenager.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:41 PM on January 17, 2013 [23 favorites]


Every president always comes out looking a couple decades older.
posted by The Whelk at 12:42 PM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Hm, his DPN is slightly more pronounced as well.
posted by elizardbits at 12:43 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just imagine how bad Clinton would have looked if he hadn't had the stress relief of all those plo chops.
posted by spicynuts at 12:44 PM on January 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


It's nuts to see actual physical proof of how stressful the job is for whomever it is that takes it.
posted by josher71 at 12:45 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


But look at it this way...if we amend the constitution and elect him to another two terms, we could basically clone Morgan Freeman.
posted by phunniemee at 12:45 PM on January 17, 2013 [12 favorites]


I always wish that articles like this would run a control group of non-presidents to compare how they had aged in the same time period. Just the other night, Jon Stewart aired a clip of himself interviewing Paul Krugman in 2006 and he seemed to have aged about the same amount in the intervening 6 years.
posted by TungstenChef at 12:48 PM on January 17, 2013 [25 favorites]


JON STEWART FOR PRESIDENT
posted by 23skidoo at 12:49 PM on January 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


Oh Jon Stewart was called to defend the planet from an invasion by our own future human race, it took about ten years but they returned him to more or less the same time period that he was taken from.
posted by The Whelk at 12:50 PM on January 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


[Lincoln] arrived at the White House as a sinewy 6-foot-4, 180-pound strongman.

LOL.

In the course of four years, he dropped 30 pounds.

Yikes.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 12:50 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


The timeline shots are too dependent on his mood, the event, the lighting, what he was trying to express, his emotion, etc to be meaningful.

Honestly, I would suspect that most people whose life is more than a series of mellow naps and quiet evenings would appear to age at about the same rate.
posted by HuronBob at 12:52 PM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Obama has been going grey since his early forties. He dyed his hair before the 2008 election.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:53 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thank God Romney didn't win. It would have been a crime against his wonderful hair.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:53 PM on January 17, 2013 [20 favorites]


You don't have to be president. Once you get past your early 40s, the aging process really seems to pick up steam. My iPhoto library mocks me.
posted by bonobothegreat at 12:56 PM on January 17, 2013 [21 favorites]


Obama will probably recover some of his looks once he's out of office. Work will do it to you.

While it's not in the same ballpark, my mom suffered from insomnia and headaches for most of her life. However, things have gotten better in the last few years, and she couldn't figure out why. I pointed out that she had retired, had paid off the house, had started to travel with my dad, and were looking forward to a stable retirement.

Stress is a killer.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:56 PM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Thank God Romney didn't win. It would have been a crime against his wonderful hair.

Paulie Walnuts to you, Capt. Renault!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 12:58 PM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


He dyed his hair before the 2008 election.

I knew it!
posted by goethean at 12:58 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I call this the Fred Durst Effect
posted by mannequito at 12:59 PM on January 17, 2013


How have I never noticed his freckles? They're... cute.
posted by sonmi at 1:01 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


The timeline shots are too dependent on his mood, the event, the lighting, what he was trying to express, his emotion, etc to be meaningful.

My thoughts exactly. I wouldn't be surprised if being President of the USA ages you prematurely, but the photos aren't really convincing me of the fact.

He dyed his hair before the 2008 election.

The timeline photos appear to suggest that he still does dye it on occasion. Maybe it's just the lighting, but the amount of grey seems to fluctuate quite a bit. One day he's pretty grey, another day he's only got a few sprinkles.

I call this the Fred Durst Effect.

Twenty years pass, man looks twenty years older. Film at 11.

(OK, he looks more than 20 years older, but a beard will do that. The last time I shaved off my beard I looked like I was about 10 years younger.)
posted by asnider at 1:02 PM on January 17, 2013


My god have you seen what the ravages of age have done to Obama! The horror!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:03 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


(OK, he looks more than 20 years older, but a beard will do that. The last time I shaved off my beard I looked like I was about 10 years younger.)

That first pic though, despite being labelled Early 90s, is probably more like 98-99
posted by mannequito at 1:05 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


That first pic though, despite being labelled Early 90s, is probably more like 98-99

You're right. It appears that Significant Other was released in '99, and that was when Limp Bizkit and Fred Durst first became "mainstream."
posted by asnider at 1:07 PM on January 17, 2013


He's done well. This could be the difference between a staged photo on a good day and a candid photo on little sleep.
But few people age as well as this old man.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:09 PM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is why I had that portrait painted and then hid it in my attic.
posted by The Whelk at 1:10 PM on January 17, 2013 [20 favorites]


I think the stress is full on, all the time. No wonder it ages you.

Once you get past your early 40s, the aging process really seems to pick up steam.

bonobothegreat just added to my stress level :(
posted by arcticseal at 1:11 PM on January 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Clinton had a heart attack, lost 30 pounds, and gained back 15-20 years.

Carter met the Iran hostages on the tarmac at Wiesbaden and looked like a burden of decades had been lifted.
posted by dhartung at 1:11 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Happy birthday, Michelle!
posted by roger ackroyd at 1:12 PM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


If Romney had won, just think of how much his portrait would have aged during his presidency!
posted by dry white toast at 1:16 PM on January 17, 2013 [22 favorites]


Some of the chosen photos are kind of suspect to bad lighting, but honestly I thought the same thing while watching GWB from 2000-2008. He stared out a youthful middle-aged guy and ended up looking decades older by the end. It wasn't just a bad photo here and there, every time I saw him I would notice and think "man, that guy looks like he's been through HELL in 8 years".

I assume it's the stress of having the weight of the economic world on your shoulders has to tear you up.
posted by mathowie at 1:17 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


How have I never noticed his freckles?

This is what I was referring to above. They're not freckles, it's DPN, a totally benign skin condition that affects PoC and increases with age. I have, due of course to vanity, had a couple of them removed but I know there are more in my future.
posted by elizardbits at 1:17 PM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


The image from 2009 was shot with a couple of soft boxes in a studio in the capitol. The more recent image was shot under hard TV lights during a presser. The light makes all the difference in the world. With that said, I don't think he looks that radically different unlike W did after 5 or 6 years.

(or on preview, what Mathowie said)
posted by photoslob at 1:20 PM on January 17, 2013


You know what, guys? I had gone way too long without thinking about Fred Durst. Thanks for fixing that.
posted by brundlefly at 1:22 PM on January 17, 2013 [15 favorites]


Once you get past your early 40s, the aging process really seems to pick up steam.

As a 44-year-old, I can confirm this. :(
posted by Slothrup at 1:22 PM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


A vaguely related note, a study from a couple of years ago pointed out that presidents don't really age faster — at least in terms of health and lifespan.

I'm guessing part of it is that folks tend to become president at a stage in their life where aging effects become much more visible. I'd love to see someone to comparison shots of someone that same age as the President to go alongside.
posted by themadthinker at 1:25 PM on January 17, 2013


They're not freckles, it's DPN, a totally benign skin condition that affects PoC and increases with age.

Oh, I thought you were referring to depression. (But, I totally get your point about the Porsche Owners Club.)
posted by found missing at 1:33 PM on January 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


mathowie: "Some of the chosen photos are kind of suspect to bad lighting, but honestly I thought the same thing while watching GWB from 2000-2008. He stared out a youthful middle-aged guy and ended up looking decades older by the end. It wasn't just a bad photo here and there, every time I saw him I would notice and think "man, that guy looks like he's been through HELL in 8 years".

I assume it's the stress of having the weight of the economic world on your shoulders has to tear you up.
"

How about the idea of sending generally young people off to potentially die all on your shoulders?
posted by Samizdata at 1:37 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't doubt that stress is relevant to this, and I agree that he looks older. But I'm never sure how much more older (if that makes sense) he looks than any other guy over a period of five years or so (if we go from when he ran for president) or nine years or so (if we go from when he spoke at the convention in 2004).

I'm not sure how much is selectivity of photos, how much is lighting, how much is gray hair that he covers and doesn't to varying degrees at different times, and how much is the effect of scoring a slideshow with what sounds like the score from a movie scene where someone dies by accidentally falling asleep in an open grave full of well water.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 1:42 PM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm 44, and I need to know how to unfavorite these comments like

"Once you get past your early 40s, the aging process really seems to pick up steam.

As a 44-year-old, I can confirm this. :( "
posted by C.A.S. at 1:48 PM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Is there a way to test this? Maybe get a guy like Keanu Reeves, who has never aged a day, and make him president?
posted by Ad hominem at 1:50 PM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hey do you want to look at two photos that have completely different lighting? Okay. Well one might be a little more retouched than the other. Okay.
posted by Napierzaza at 1:51 PM on January 17, 2013


Thank God Romney didn't win. It would have been a crime against his wonderful hair.

His hair? He didn't build that himself. It was and still is our hair. One day we will come for it.
posted by srboisvert at 1:52 PM on January 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm guessing part of it is that folks tend to become president at a stage in their life where aging effects become much more visible. I'd love to see someone to comparison shots of someone that same age as the President to go alongside.

Yeah let's get a look at Reagan (69 on inauguration day, 8 years as president) compared to Clinton (46 on inauguration day, 8 years as president).
posted by shakespeherian at 1:55 PM on January 17, 2013


Interestingly, despite the obvious aging Obama (and McCain and Clinton) look significantly younger than how this 2008 feature speculated they'd look after only four years.

(See also: 1985 Ebony Magazine forecasting what Michael Jackson will look like in the year 2000)
posted by Rhaomi at 1:57 PM on January 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


The POTUS still looks good. Regular men who don't use sunscreen or moisturizer and don't eat well or drink enough water, it totally shows.
posted by discopolo at 2:05 PM on January 17, 2013


President Bartlett also aged significantly from the start to the finish of his term. His deputy communications director somehow managed to avoid aging at all.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 2:05 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I saw a picture of Neil Flynn from Scrubs recently and it's been only 5 years since I've watched him anything and he has aged tremendously. I think it's normal.
posted by discopolo at 2:10 PM on January 17, 2013


Another point: we're used to watching people in the public eye age differently, because most will discretely get some work done while politicians can't get away with that as easily.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:17 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


in the opposite direction, take a good look at some recent photos of Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

Puberty! Sometimes it hits like a freight train!
posted by The Whelk at 2:19 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


My experience is the bald look has been invaluable in slowing down the observable aging process.
posted by Xurando at 2:21 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love the slider thing. Cool.

I was struck with the irrelevant observation that I still really, really like Barack's face, aged or not. While everyone else depicted (not including Lincoln) still puts my teeth on edge, regardless of agedness.
posted by bearwife at 2:21 PM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Once you get past your early 40s, the aging process really seems to pick up steam.

As a 44-year-old, I can confirm this. :(


LIES!!! LIES ALL OF YOU.

(says the 41 year old)
posted by stormpooper at 2:31 PM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Telomeres are chromosome tips, not cell tips. Chromosomes are a formation of DNA and structural proteins called histones, and they hang out inside a structure in cells called the nucleus. Confusing cells with chromosomes is like confusing buildings with the people who live in them.

The Presidency is a tough gig and definitely ages people. Even Bush II, who seemed to spend most of his time at his ranch, aged a lot more than four years.
posted by gingerest at 2:32 PM on January 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


>Another point: we're used to watching people in the public eye age differently, because most will discretely get some work done while politicians can't get away with that as easily.

Navelgazer, you think that most aging men get discretely get some work done? I doubt it.

I seem to remember as a child watching Tony Blair being inaugurated, and then emerging scant weeks later seeming like he'd aged years. Gut feeling tells me that being heir to the secret horrors of the world can't help but make an impression, but Google Image and knowledge of politics suggests that they simply work a lot harder to keep up appearances until they're elected.
posted by forgetful snow at 2:40 PM on January 17, 2013


forgetful snow: I think that most aging men in hollywood do. And I think that's what we're truly comparing politicians to here.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:46 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


For what it is worth, I have met Bill Clinton on several occasions. The first time while he was still President. The last time, last September. When you talk to him up close, you see he has aged a lot. But, he is 20 years older than when he took office. I think it was the heart issues. His neck skin looks really really old. Like my grandmother's did. His face skin has whatever you call those blotches you see on older folks. His wife, up close also looks like she has aged considerably during her time as Sec State. I think the traveling will kill you even if you are flying on your own 767,
posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:47 PM on January 17, 2013


Telomeres are chromosome tips, not cell tips.

Not to be confused with rib tips, which are a delicious source of metabolomes.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:49 PM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Watching that slideshow, after a little bit all I could see was his ears. It's like he's got wings!
posted by ocherdraco at 2:52 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I probably look younger at nearly 60 than I did at 35, except for the grayer hair and the fact I've put on weight. I don't have to worry my ex-husband will come kill me and take the kids to his Hell-hole country, I don't have to work. I don't have bills. I finally get regular medical attention and then there is Mr. Roquette to keep me smiling...
And the pain pills and muscle relaxers and a mild anti-depressant have taken care of the migraines, and the camel milk means I am not constantly having IBS flare-ups that injured my dignity.
So I just look a hard used 40 instead of a month short of 60.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 2:54 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


His face skin has whatever you call those blotches you see on older folks.

Bill Clinton's got rosacea, so that's probably what that was.

(Speaking of BC and rosacea, I was watching Jeopardy! not too long ago and he was doing video clues. MAN his skin looked horrible - bright red patches on his cheeks and nose. I felt bad for him.)
posted by Lucinda at 2:59 PM on January 17, 2013


Its hard to find decent virgin's blood to bathe in these days, I have to send away for it and everything.
posted by The Whelk at 3:01 PM on January 17, 2013


The Whelk: "Its hard to find decent virgin's blood to bathe in these days, I have to send away for it and everything."

Especially with Bill Clinton around.
posted by brundlefly at 3:04 PM on January 17, 2013 [14 favorites]


a delicious source of metabolomes

And hemp is an excellent source of photosynthesis.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:10 PM on January 17, 2013


If I were writing this story, the headline would be "Obama seems to have aged far less in 4 years than previous presidents."
posted by straight at 3:13 PM on January 17, 2013


Well I am surprised at comments about Bill Clinton looking bad, because I'm always commenting on how great he looks. Maybe I'm just not seeing him up close enough, but every time I see him on TV, he looks so much healthier than he ever did when he was in office. He's thinner, has better color, brighter eyes, and just seems to have more vitality.
posted by HotToddy at 3:25 PM on January 17, 2013


There's no difference.

The first is Obama in makeup and soft lighting so that he looks good. The second is Obama without makeup, harsh flourescent-looking lighting, and probably a late night. This is a before-and-after trick used in every cheap dentist's office and scammy commercial/advertisement the world over.
posted by DisreputableDog at 3:30 PM on January 17, 2013


President Bartlett also aged significantly from the start to the finish of his term.

I have yet to grow tired of all the ways a fictional POTUS is treated as real.
posted by dry white toast at 4:09 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I refuse to believe that either the Clintons or the Obamas will die. Hear that Hillary? Step that shit up.
posted by angrycat at 4:41 PM on January 17, 2013


Man, I'd give my wrinkled left hand to be 41 again...
posted by Ron Thanagar at 7:22 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm about to turn 30 and my hair is already going gray. Lighten up on the man.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:34 PM on January 17, 2013


Pretty much every president man of around that age does this, from what I can tell.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:41 PM on January 17


FTFY. Sorry youngsters, somewhere between your early and late forties, this happens. It all starts going to shit. You'll find out.
posted by Decani at 8:19 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have yet to grow tired of all the ways a fictional POTUS is treated as real.

The POTUS we need, but not the POTUS we deserve right now.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:25 PM on January 17, 2013


I don't think Obama is aging rapidly. Like a few other people have said, the difference is probably mostly lighting and letting his hair go gray.

"Maybe get a guy like Keanu Reeves, who has never aged a day, and make him president?"

Keanu has started looking older recently. He still looks good for his age, but he doesn't look 30 anymore. Johnny Depp is also finally starting to show his age. Seth Green is the one who really freaks me out. He played teenagers for like 20 years, and he could still pass for a teenager now. (I suspect part of the reason he doesn't work on-camera so much these days is because he's kind of hard to cast. We all know he's not a kid anymore and it would be weird for him to play one, but he doesn't really look like a grown-up either.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:03 AM on January 18, 2013


stormpooper: "Once you get past your early 40s, the aging process really seems to pick up steam.

As a 44-year-old, I can confirm this. :(


LIES!!! LIES ALL OF YOU.

(says the 41 year old)
"

45 here. Shut up, you young punk. I hope you have children just like you someday.
posted by Samizdata at 5:24 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


sonic meat machine: "I'm about to turn 30 and my hair is already going gray. Lighten up on the man."

And my hair started when I was 18. You people and your first world problems.

(OTOH, I have lots of it and it is that lovely silver, so there's that. So happy I kept it - the world is too full of middle aged guys with shaved heads to hide pattern baldness.)
posted by Samizdata at 5:27 AM on January 18, 2013


Not a single mention of drugs here? I thought it was an open secret that people at this level basically live on uppers, at least for stretches during a crisis, to overcome constant jetlag, etc.
posted by DU at 5:29 AM on January 18, 2013


45 here. Shut up, you young punk. I hope you have children just like you someday.


The term is whippersnapper.

My 4 year old thinks I'm Princess Leia, Black Widow, or Pepper Potts. DO NOT DESTORY HIS ILLUSIONS!!!
posted by stormpooper at 7:26 AM on January 18, 2013


stormpooper: "45 here. Shut up, you young punk. I hope you have children just like you someday.


The term is whippersnapper.

My 4 year old thinks I'm Princess Leia, Black Widow, or Pepper Potts. DO NOT DESTORY HIS ILLUSIONS!!!
"

Naaaaaah, punk is so much meaner, IMLTHO.

OTOH, that's three kindsa hawt right there. I remember the Leia drools I would get back in the day when Geo Lucas would let us walk through his cave paintings of his mighty opus.
posted by Samizdata at 7:38 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


> the difference is probably mostly lighting and letting his hair go gray

And with hair as short as his is, the grey shows quickly.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:54 AM on January 18, 2013


In the last couple of years the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study on this phenomena wherein it was found that presidents actually are in much better health and more long-lived than the average American male, despite the graying hair.

Dr. Olshansky first became intrigued by presidential longevity when he heard chatter in the news media about the signs, around Mr. Obama’s 50th birthday celebration in August, that the president was aging quickly. Commentators dwelled on the gray hair above his temples, the deepening creases around his mouth and the bags under his eyes that seemed to betray a weariness in one of the most stressful jobs on earth. There was even speculation that presidents age two years for every one they spend in the White House.

CNN

New York Times
posted by forkisbetter at 9:55 AM on January 18, 2013


One nice thing about going gray is I used to have mousy brown fine hair and it going big and wavy and white and I look like a witch. I like this.
posted by angrycat at 10:31 AM on January 18, 2013


It looks like I'm going to have Bride of Frankenstein streaks, which I'm enthusiastic about.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:49 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Once you get past your early 40s, the aging process really seems to pick up steam.

I am hitting this point. In most of my photos, I look a lot younger than I am, but I had one recently where I thought "I look like an old lady". On the other hand, I was sitting in a throne, so that's not a bad way to be an old lady. (And I will rock the purple hair even when I'm old, especially when/if I get the grey wiry ones.)
posted by immlass at 11:14 AM on January 18, 2013


Aging is so weird.

I am not at all happy about how I'm aging, but people always seem to assume I'm younger than I am, so I am forced to conclude that I don't look my age but I just look like a sickly, less-attractive version of my younger self.

I remember being really distressed by some wrinkles on my right cheek when I was around 28, and now those wrinkles aren't there anymore. I've got all kinds of other crappy facial collapse going on, but where did those wrinkles go?

Aging is so weird.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:26 PM on January 18, 2013


but where did those wrinkles go?

a benefit of failing eyesight?
posted by found missing at 2:47 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


>a benefit of failing eyesight?

Nah, I'm seeing the rest of my facial decay just fine, thanks.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:42 PM on January 18, 2013


I've always had a baby face, but started to go silver in my early 20s. About to turn 33 - so far, I've actually been getting better looking as I've aged. I'll take it.
posted by stenseng at 4:34 PM on January 18, 2013


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