Old People Are Hot Now

Paul Rudd crossed the Wilford Brimley line on December 30, 2019. See Li / Picture Capital / Alamy, AJ Pics / Alamy

First lifespan, then healthspan, but from now on, thanks to our writer, we’ll also be tracking hotspan. You read it here first.

Do you look better than what your parents looked like at your age? Probably. It’s a widespread phenomenon. In fact, it’s a meme. The Wilford Brimley line is a concept on the internet whereby celebrities who reach the age of 52 are compared to actor Wilford Brimley in the film Cocoon, which appeared in theaters when he was also 52. The anecdotal evidence is conclusive: Old people are hotter now.

Health experts have long concerned themselves with lifespan and healthspan. But they have overlooked one important metric: “hotspan.” This is the length of time during which a person is hot. I just made it up. But there is empirical evidence behind why the average senior’s hotspan is increasing. 

Martha Stewart on the cover of the 2023 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue at the age of 81. Ruven Afanador / Sports Illustrated

Surgeon General warnings since the 1980s roughly resemble our health guidelines today: Eat a variety of foods, avoid sugar, etc. Since the 1980s, people have been wearing more and better sunscreen. New gyms pop up each year. We kicked butter out of nutrition guidelines. Smoking has declined

There are also more hot mixed-race old people now. When some old people today were children in the 1960s, miscegenation laws in some states prevented mixed race marriage. But in 1967, the Supreme Court deemed such laws unconstitutional and ruled in favor of justice and hotness

Old people don’t just age slower, they think hotter. Studies show that today’s older people are stronger, smarter, and think “younger” than the old people of 30 years ago. In fact, a Harris poll of 2,000 Americans showed that 71 percent of seniors say the best time of their lives is in front of them. Elders are dressing better. 65-year-olds are not trying to pull off sweater vests and sensible shoes anymore. Hotness is a state of mind. 

But the phenomenon of hot old people is relatively under-researched. A query into Google Scholar about the hotness of older people produces studies of senior citizens dying of heat stroke. ChatGPT, diplomatic as ever, suggests that hotness is subjective. 

However, the increased occurrence of hot older people is acknowledged by Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers University and the chief science advisor for Match.com. “The fastest growing dating site is OurTime,” a dating app for seniors, says Fisher, herself a confirmed elder hottie. “I think [age] is becoming more and more just a number.” Her large-scale annual surveys show that seniors are the least willing to marry without sexual attraction and singles are having the best sex of their lives in their mid 60s. Seniors are the most likely to achieve orgasm at a whopping 91 percent per bang.

We are rapidly approaching a hotness epidemic.

People are only going to get hotter as they age, and this has massive social implications. The number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to more than double from 46 million today to over 98 million by 2060. Older adults are set to outnumber kids in a decade or so. We are rapidly approaching a hotness epidemic. 

We need to be psychologically prepared for society to stay sexy into senescence. Medicare must stock up on STD kits. Dating apps may have to change their algorithms. Diane Keaton may have a dozen rom coms left to shoot. 

Celebrities especially are in a new age of old age. Octogenarian Martha Stewart is a Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover model. Perhaps AARP magazine is becoming the next Vogue. There are the marvels of Angela Bassett, Helen Mirren, and Jennifer Lopez plus the “Zaddies” Pedro Pascal, Idris Elba, and Anderson Cooper. Brad Pitt demonstrates a miracle nearly the inverse of his eponymous role in Benjamin Button; he continues to age in spite of his looks. It’s old hat to be hot when you’re young. It’s fascinatingly futuristic to be hot when you’re old. 

But not all celebrities demonstrate the wonders of our new age of aging. If we are to take online memes as anecdotal evidence, the counter argument against increasing hotspan is the “Leonardo DiCaprio Girlfriend Graph.” Actor Leonardo DiCaprio seems to have a 25-year-old ceiling on the age of his partners despite his steadily increasing age. 

One way to think about this graph is that DiCaprio continues to look pretty good into his late 40s. Perhaps the wonder is that he continues to be attractive to young women. Of course, this is anecdotal evidence, and Leo’s “hotness” is confounded by other variables not present in most conditions like his fame, wealth, and the influence of the psychological complexes of a former child actor on his dating preferences.

Leo’s preferences seem to reflect the online dating behavior of straight men selecting for women in their early 20s. But these preferences arguably restrict their dating pool artificially. With egg & sperm freezing, increasing lifespan, healthspan, and hotspan, 20s are not what they used to be. So gerontophobic daters are only hurting themselves with needlessly restrictive criteria. 

Younger people also discriminate against dating the old. A recent large survey conducted by Paris-based consulting firm Ipsos shows younger people are far more concerned about intergenerational canoodling. However, this research was conducted on behalf of a group named “Cougar Life,” so their findings may be suspect. Counterintuitively, they found that women were the most disapproving of men dating significantly older women. 

Why in this age of widespread tolerance and vocal support of “love is love,” is society still so skeptical of finding old people hot? When will preferences catch up with reality? According to Fisher, “hotness has increased and awareness of hotness has not increased to the same extent.” The lagging perception could be explained by many things. Stress, judgment, and fear surround many age gap relationships in the post “me-too” era. 

So for the younger generation with sky-high mental health issues and dismally low sex rates, there is a well-documented way to combat the biological tolls of stress and fear surrounding our new senior smokeshows. “With orgasm comes a real flood of oxytocin, liquid feelings of deep attachment and calm,” says Fisher. “It boosts the immune system. It reduces pain. It’s good for the mind.” Since old people seem to be having more and better sex, perhaps one way for the youth to embrace the phenomenon of hot old people is to embrace hot old people. If you can’t beat them, join them. 

Now, you may be shocked by the following revelation but “hotspan” is not an objective metric. ChatGPT was correct. Hotness is completely subjective and exists in the eye of the beholder. So at this watershed moment of increased hotness, society must answer one question: Are we mature enough to see it? To misquote Stewart Brand: “We are as hotties, we might as well get good at it.” Only time will tell if age is really just a number.

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