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As Americans know all too well from the presidential election of 2016, just viewing and listening to election coverage, debates, and sound bites can be downright exhausting. Imagine what it’s like for the candidates! The impossibly early morning talk show appearances and late-night tweeting escapades take their toll on even the most energized politicians. Then, once the election is over, the president-elect must remain in high gear as the transition is made to commander in chief.

Curious to see what the stress and strain of politics will do to those who pursue its glory, we examined the faces of presidents, presidential hopefuls, and even first ladies using Microsoft’s Face API software. Want to see what you might look like under the grueling pressure of political office? We also developed a tool that shows how you might withstand an election season – and beyond. Read on to see what we discovered.


Politics and You

(Interactive may not be available on some devices).

Ever wonder what life in politics is like? Use our interactive guide to see your face transform during one, two, or three terms in political office. You can upload your own picture or take a new one using the webcam attached to your computer. Our software will show you the physical effects that accompany the job.

Keep an eye out for changes in skin complexion, forehead wrinkles, laugh lines, and crow’s-feet. The years you virtually spend in office are sure to take their toll.

Presidential Seal of Stress

presidential fatigue, the evolution of president obama's face in office

The years have certainly left their mark on President Barack Obama since 2008. One of the most noticeable signs of aging, however, hasn’t been on his face – it’s been in his hair. Even Obama has cracked a few jokes about his hair losing its color over the years. While genetic factors and chronological age largely contribute to graying, research has shown that stress can be a factor in speeding up the process.

The Years of a President

the perils of presidency, comparing the actual ages and percieved ages of barack obama during his time as president

Uploading dozens of pictures of President Obama into Microsoft’s Face API software, we compared Obama’s actual age and perceived age based on facial features and appearances between 2008 and 2016.

In 2008, when Barack Obama spent several long months on the campaign trail, he was the fifth-youngest president to hold the office at 47 years of age. However, based on pictures of him at that time, one might have guessed he was in his early 40s. Obama’s first year as president would age him nearly three years, based on our software analysis. Stress can come from positive as well as negative experiences. Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. That year he also worked to pass a $787 billion economic stimulus package into law – an act that every Republican from the House refused to support.

The biggest spike in perceived age for Obama was in 2011. At the height of the so-called birther movement¬Ě – when some Republicans (most notably, Donald Trump) demanded to see evidence of his birth certificate – Obama also announced that the U.S. government had tracked down and killed Osama bin Laden. He also announced his campaign for re-election.

Obama’s perceived age ultimately surpassed his actual age in 2015, when power in the House and Senate transitioned to Republicans. No one ever said partisan politics was easy.

Not Aging Alone

a lifetime of political pressure, the evolution of president bill clinton's face in politics
worn down by wartime, the evolution of george w. bush's face in politics

Obama isn’t the only president to feel the pressure of two terms in office. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush experienced similar accelerated aging effects during their time at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest.

We may never fully appreciate just how stressful their jobs were, but we can see from their faces that it wasn’t easy. Clinton and Bush, like Obama, appeared significantly older by the end of their presidencies. From crow’s-feet to forehead wrinkles, even presidents aren’t exempt from the physical toll of stress.

Aged Up

eight long years, aging in the oval office, comparing the actual ages, and perceived ages of george w. bush, and bill clinton during their presidency

For President Clinton, 1996 (the year of the Whitewater trial) and 2000 (his last full year in office where he worked closely with Vietnam to normalize trade and became the first sitting president to visit that country) appear to be his most stressful years, judging from the photo progression. In 1998, after his relationship with Monica Lewinsky came to light, we also saw a spike in his perceived age that was only marginally reduced in the year after the scandal.

President Bush appears to have aged over five years after the attack on New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. This perceived age would reduce slightly in the following two years, but his apparent age generally climbed over the remainder of his presidency. In October 2007, as the stock market began to decline, Bush’s perceived age rose to over 65 – his oldest perceived age during his two terms in the White House. A year later, the market would completely crash.

The Calm Before the Storm

capitalist to capitol hill, the evolution of donald trump's face

Presidents aren’t the only people who feel the effects of politics. The campaign trail alone can be exhausting. Even for the staffers and reporters who travel with the candidates, the days are long – and the opportunities for rest are short. Traveling between cities and states, meeting with the press, hosting town halls, and canvassing supporters – not to mention the daily onslaught of press junkets and speeches – take their toll. The stress of getting elected is just a precursor for the rigors of the job.

Will Trump Stay Plump?

pre- and post presidential pressures comparing the actual ages and perceived ages donald trump before and after election

One of the most noticeable indicators of youth is naturally plump and wrinkle-free skin. When Trump takes office on January 20, he will officially be the oldest U.S. president, at age 70. Of course, we’ll have to wait awhile to find out just how much Trump’s face appears to age during his first term. Even if he does age well, he’s still going to look like an older man. A second term in office means he will be in his late 70s by the end of that term. Then again, looking good isn’t just a function of age. Perhaps with the right care and maintenance, Trump will appear to youthen with age.

A Leading Lady

From First Lady To Frontlines, the evolution of hillary clinton's face throughout politics

While many got to know Hillary Clinton as the first lady of the United States to President Bill Clinton between 1993 and 2001, few would have expected her to become one of the most powerful and historical figures in American politics. In the above graphic, we can see her progression from a policy-influencing first lady working to improve the lives of needy children, to a New York Senator between 2001 and 2009, to Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013, to the democratic presidential nominee in 2016.

Partner Politics

the pressure of the first ladies, the facial evolution of recent first ladies in office

Presidents Obama and Bush may have aged over the course of their two terms in office, but they didn't endure that stress alone. First ladies Michelle Obama and Laura Bush also showed signs of advanced aging during the eight years they spent by their husbands' sides in the Oval Office.

While they might say their husbands are the ones with the stressful jobs, there's no denying that the responsibilities of a first lady go beyond 9 to 5. They also face an incredible amount of scrutiny about everything from how they work to their attire.

The Weight of Responsibility

Unfortunately, all of us endure stress. Presidents, politicians, and their spouses are no exception. Like our presidents, the physical effects of stress and can show up on our faces. Those effects don’t have to be permanent, though. At BodyLogicMD, our goal is to help you look as young as you feel. With cutting-edge technology, like natural hormone replacement therapy and hormone balancing, we can help to reverse the signs of stress on your life.

Methodology

We found photos for each of the presidents, first ladies, and Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. We then entered each photo into https://www.microsoft.com/cognitive-services/en-us/face-api to determine their perceived ages. We gathered five photos from each year and averaged the perceived age across that year.

Sources

Fair Use Statement

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