Kelsey Laurier doesn’t really get hate comments. She’s built up a following of some 400,000 people since she started making lifestyle TikToks in 2021—more than 90 percent of her audience is women, and Laurier describes her comment section as a “peaceful” place. Still, every so often she’ll get some “angry men” who turn up and call her “washed up, miserable, and old.” And sometimes—when she reveals her age in a video—she’ll get backhanded compliments from women: “They’re like, Oh! I can’t believe it! You look so young!”
Ageism is age-old, so it’s no surprise that it’s made its way to TikTok. In the past, 73-year-old positive aging champion Margret Manning has spoken out about her experiences on the app: “There seems to be this incredible focus with other women here on TikTok to just not accept aging,” she said. But TikTok isn’t just reinforcing pre-existing negativity around growing older; it’s also changing our definition of what “old” means.
In late February, the Teenage Look filter took over the app. True to its name, the tool allows older TikTokkers to transform into their younger selves. In one video with more than 15.8 million views, a middle-aged (or possibly younger) woman tearfully greets her teenage self. The top comment, with more than 30,000 likes, reads “I don’t want to grow old,” followed by three crying emoji.