Everyone is Obsessed with the 'Old Age Filter' on TikTok and We're Not Sure Why

Parents don't need a filter to remind us we're getting older—we have kids!

Photo composite of TiKTok old age filter on phone

Jasmine Purdie for Parents/Getty Images (2)

One of my favorite t-shirts says, "I'm not your average teenager, I'm in my 40s." I bought it the minute it was targeted to me on Instagram. "You're such an easy mark," my husband laughed when it arrived. Technically I'm a 45-year-old suburban wife and mom but in my soul, I still feel like a '90s teen—just a 2.0 version of that girl. It's why I completely ignored the "teenage look" filter when it trended on TikTok.

This brings me to the latest filter trending on TikTok—the exact opposite of the "teenage look." Yes, that would be the "old" filter where instead of going back in time, you go forward to preview yourself as a senior citizen. The technology uses AI to politely age people 20-30 years. Many are posting their photos as couples to see how they will grow old together. Others just want to get a glimpse into the future. Then there are those who are proving the AI right (or wrong) with how they've aged by uploading photos from when they were younger, using the "old age filter" on them, and then showing where they are now. Many of them use the song "Forever Young" as the background music.

Sure, maybe the crow's feet around my eyes could use a little Botox (that I'm too afraid to try). Yes, I get my hair colored slightly more often than I used to. And fine, maybe these days I'm more prone to "sensible" shoes than chunky heels. But, when I look at my senior year of high school portraits, staring back at me is dark lipstick, ill-cut bangs (I was going for the "Brenda Walsh"), orangutan orange hair thanks to an at-home dye job gone wrong, and unkempt eyebrows. I never felt comfortable in my skin because I had yet to find myself—which contributed to looking like a hot mess by emulating others.

Today, I know my hair looks best longish with grown-out bangs parted to the left. My blonde highlights are left to the professionals. Nothing darker than light pink graces my lips and my aesthetician gives my eyebrows a perfect arch with every wax. Today my style is inspired by inner confidence and grace, two qualities the "teenage me" desperately struggled to find. I don't like looking at photos from that awkward time and I certainly don't want a filter to take me back.

But part of me is intrigued by the "old-age filter." Should I try it for confirmation that I'll continue aging well over the next 20-30 years? But then I snap myself back into reality. I'm a self-proclaimed 40-something teenager, remember? What "teen" wants to see themselves as old? And, if I'm really being honest—I simply cannot grasp that technically, I'm, gulp, middle-aged. Just a few weeks ago, my gyno brought up menopause and listed a few symptoms I might start experiencing. I laughed; positive she was looking at the wrong chart.

I'm also a parent. That in itself is a very tangible and real reminder of the passage of time. I don't need an "old age filter" to tell me how fast time is moving. Eight years ago, I didn't have a child and now I do. I've watched my little girl grow and learn and become more and more independent every day, week, month, and year. I blinked and those eight years have gone by. Before I know it, she'll be headed to middle school, then graduating high school and making her own way through life. I have friends my exact same age who have teenagers already, not knowing where time has gone.

Recently, my husband and I were in line for a movie. I was wearing a Nirvana t-shirt which sparked a conversation with a fellow movie-going couple about how popular Nirvana merchandise has become with today's teens. That led to some hardcore reminiscing about where we all were when Kurt Cobain died. (For the record, I was in the 10th grade). The couple—whom I pegged as "much older"—exclaimed, "Did you graduate high school in 1995 too?" They had to notice my eyes bugged out of my head. I assumed they were in their early 50s. There was no way I was their age! I know I'm not that far away from my 50s, but I still get carded at bars! The younger moms at my daughter's school always guess I'm in my late '30s!

I made my husband promise that I looked younger than the couple. And then I panicked. Should I get that Botox? Ditch the sensible shoes? Am I a walking "old" filter? Do I not look as young as I feel and try to behave (within reason, of course)?

My 8-year-old daughter is my motivation for staying "young and cool." I tried (and failed) to get her Taylor Swift tickets. I watch Euphoria (not with my 8-year-old but to stay ahead of the curve). I have a helix piercing. Yet, I also wake up at six in the morning, no matter what time I go to bed (usually before 10 pm).

I was happy to leave my teen years in the rearview. My 20s were filled with mistakes and regrets (personally, professionally, and stylistically). In my 30s, I started trusting my gut. Now, halfway through my 40s, I've found beauty in my flaws and acceptance of who I am. Notice that there's no "middle-aged" filter? I think that's because this is the sweet spot. We've worked out the kinks. We've accepted who we are going to be.

I don't want to go backward with the "teenage look" filter but looking ahead with the "old" filter fills me with dread. So, for now, I'll just stay put, filter-free, trying to convince my daughter she has a "cool" mom, not a "regular" mom . . . and not try to feel like an "old mom" every time she hits a new rite of passage or finds a new reason to roll her eyes at me. Which is usually guaranteed whenever I get cozy in my "I'm not your average teenager, I'm in my 40s" t-shirt.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles