Why do people in old photos (early to mid last century) appear so much older then they were at the time?

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I always wondered, why in many of those pics, men and women look already middle aged, when they were in there early 20s or so. Clearly these few decades can’t be enough to make such radical morphological shifts

In: Biology
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This is mostly due to the perceptions of the observer.

You, as the viewer of the photo, already have preconceived notions of what people should look like based on hairstyles and clothing.

Check out live concerts from the same time period, you may find that video will give a better impression of age.

Just a general sense of taking care of your body. Such as proper exercise, Skin care ie. sunblock. A huge difference in skin appearance is cigarette smoke. And generally less stressful blue collared jobs like mining and industrial work. – just look at pictures of individuals before and after war to know that jobs play a big role.

Lastly proper dental care. Heathy teeth play a big role on your jaw line and face structure.

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Life in the old days was genuinely a lot harder. Imagine living with no air conditioning, no heating, no piped water, no toilets, no computers, no power tools.

Living at home was tough – you had to hunt and forage for dinner, you had to split wood and burn lumber for heat, you had to pump water from a well to drink.

When there was a family – everyone had to pull their share in order for everyone to survive. People were much tougher back then and it took a toll on their bodies.

The reality was that by 20-25 you were middle aged. Life expectancy didn’t hit 40 until the late 1800s: [https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9a/Life_expectancy_by_world_region%2C_from_1770_to_2018.svg](https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9a/Life_expectancy_by_world_region%2C_from_1770_to_2018.svg)

Today kids get to be kids, back then it was hard work from a young age.