I resent looking younger than I am, but then I glimpsed the elderly me

Staff writer Robert Samuels is shown here in an actual photograph taken at his current age 29. The images of later ages were produced using computer technology developed by researchers at Face Aging Group at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. (The Washington Post)

Some of the more common questions in my life:

“Are you an intern?” “What college do you go to?” And — a particularly annoying one when all you want to do is see an R-rated movie — “Can I see your ID?”

I’ve always resented looking younger than I am. So I was pleased when the computer analyzed my head shot and did not make that mistake. Trouble was, it made an entirely different mistake.

On the first attempt, the computer perceived my age at 33, four years older than I am.

Perplexed as I was, I considered it a small victory. The small, fuzzy tuft of facial hair on my chin that took five months to sprout from my glacially maturing bod had thrown off the calculation.

How old does your face look? How the technology works.

My attempt at appearing more manly worked, but I questioned how great this technology could be if my sad semblance of a goatee had thrown it off. My victory was temporary. When the calculations were redone after I shaved my chin, it homed in on my youthful eyes and perceived my age as 27.

I am 29.

This was terrible news.

Then I saw the the rendering of what I may look like at 75.

My full lips had thinned and my cheeks had sagged. Wrinkles! Briefly, I liked looking younger than I am.

My co-workers saw my aged face and were disturbed. “The good thing is, you have a really charming smile,” said a colleague. (Not so in the photos; we were asked not to smile.)

Then it occurred to me that this version of me would never be asked whether he was old enough to see “22 Jump Street.”

For that alone, I was thankful.

Robert Samuels is a national political reporter who focuses on the intersection of politics, policy and people. He previously covered social issues in the District of Columbia.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read National



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters