Have you ever wondered why teenagers back in the 1950s appear to look “so much older” than teenagers today?

A recent TikTok video asked the same question and now has the internet in a frenzy of public debate about whether the current generation’s ancestors were more attractive than the teens of today.

The New York Post reported that Shafee Hassan, a Sydney-based anthropologist and engineer, said in the video, “There are multiple theories about why this is the case, but the one that makes the most intuitive sense, at least to me, is presented in Contemporary Orthodontics by (US orthodontist William) Proffit and colleagues using what’s known as the functional matrix hypothesis.”

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Are people today less attractive than their ancestors?

Hassan explained that the functional matrix hypothesis means that the “development of the face is dependent on the forces you put on it, for the upper and lower jaw,” and the jaw is seemingly the defining factor for an “attractive” face.

Your tongue and “other forces” are the driving factors that “push the jaw downwards or outwards and a new bone will fill the space it’s created by movement,” the New York Post reported.

As an example, the TikTok video depicts the jaw bone structure of a little girl with an underdeveloped jaw due to a sinus infection that affected the growth of her lower jaw because she breathed through her mouth and didn’t close her jaw long enough to allow it to “develop properly.”

The Jerusalem Post reported that Hassan claimed that our faces are “becoming more and more inferior,” due to the newer generations’ “modern diet, sleep patterns and light exposure habits.”

The TikTok caption said, “The average person’s face is becoming increasingly disadvantaged by modern diets, sleeping patterns, pollutants and orofacial habits creating a greater inequality in ‘the attractives’ vs ‘the unattractives’.”

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The average person's face is becoming increasingly disadvantaged by modern diets, sleeping patterns, pollutants and orofacial habits creating a greater inequality in 'the attractives' vs 'the unattractives' #looks #psychology #aesthetics #qoves #orthodontics

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Are people more attractive than their ancestors?

The New York Post reported that the video has received 3.2 million views with 333,100 users liking the post, but not all users were convinced.

“People are definitely not getting uglier. You haven’t seen enough old photos if you believe that,” a viewer commented, according to The Jerusalem Post.

A YouTube viewer reportedly added, “Exactly lol, I actually think it’s the opposite. We’re just getting prettier.”

A third commenter offered a counterargument, saying, “It’s a beauty bias. Photos of ugly people are less likely to be seen/published compared to their more attractive counterparts.”

Some viewers reportedly suggested “that we associate hairstyles with age,” and that some perceive the older generation to be more handsome due to the popular hairstyles of the time.