Women: You Need to Figure Out Whether You’re Aging Vertically or Horizontally

But don't worry too much! That will create unsightly frown lines on your forehead.

Women: You Need to Figure Out Whether You’re Aging Vertically or Horizontally
Photo:Vincent Besnault (Getty Images)

I come bearing incredible news for woman looking for fresh and innovative ways to describe what they don’t like about their aging faces. Two new terms to describe the body’s natural progression with time have dropped: “vertical aging” and “horizontal aging.” The terms appeared in a Town and Country article promoting a facial toning device, Emface, published over the weekend. It’s hard keeping up with all the new your-face-is-fucked lingo, so if it feels overwhelming, just know that the bottom line is this: The beauty industry’s secret to eternal life is finding creative ways for you to think you look bad.

Let’s break down the phrases. “Vertical aging” is the “slow slide caused by gravity.” OK, makes sense. Gravity is notoriously horrible—it’s both taken down airplanes and revealed the fact that I’m no longer 14. “Horizontal aging,” meanwhile, describes “those fine lines you get from UV damage, facial expressions, and other environmental factors.” Personally, “horizontal aging” is what I’ve always called those too-long late afternoon naps you take that feel like 400 years have passed when you wake up. I wasn’t smart enough to coin the term, but I’m happy this new facial toning device can use it to describe how fucked up smiling or frowning makes your face look. If you’re worried about remembering these new descriptions—don’t be! Worrying makes you noticeably uglier.

Emface, the article assures us, is noninvasive, which is to say it simply uses of-the-earth “electro stimulation” and “radio frequency” to tighten one’s jaw muscles. The total treatment costs a reasonable $4,000 to $6,000. If you think about it, the process is ingenious: Tightening your jaw muscles so much that you grind away your teeth at night, only to never smile again, can magically disappear that horizontal aging! Two birds, one stone.

The climate crisis is too prevailing, and global nuclear warfare is too enigmatic. What I love about fretting over lines on my face is that I can see the matter of contention, and I can spend hundreds of dollars trying to fix it. The anti-aging industry has the persistent and exhaustive energy of the age they’re frantically trying to restore us to: toddlers. And hey, I appreciate that relentlessness! The billions of dollars the industry spends trying to invent unique ways to describe living past the age of your first period is breathtaking. Of course, don’t expect my face to express my fascination. Just know that I’m thinking it, deep within the parts of my brain not dulled from Botox and Emface’s radio frequencies.

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