How Old Is Too Old?

The toxicity behind Hollywood’s glamorization of age gap relationships

48 and 19, 31 and 21, 64 and 39.  No this isn’t a sudoku puzzle, it’s the ages of three famous Hollywood names in comparison to the ages of their wives or girlfriends.  You may have noticed the smallest number between each set of numbers is 10 years, a number that, today, is regarded as a small age gap as a result of the increase of older men going after freshly legal women in the celebrity world. 

Now, age gap relationships aren’t a new phenomenon, but our desensitization to seeing a man on the verge of senior citizenship dating a woman who just got the right to vote in the U.S. is. Hollywood has been the main reason for an increase in these types of relationships being broadcast and normalized in the minds of young women.  

However, that’s not to say that women are the only ones being victimized; there are also countless celebrity age gap relationships in which the man is younger and has been “seduced” by an older woman or married her because of her position in show business, etc.  

Though all relationships with significant age gaps have proven to be much more toxic and unhealthy to the younger spouse despite gender, it is no secret that women are disproportionately affected and victimized in these scenarios.  

So, what has birthed this new trend of women dating men the same age as their father?  A lot of the influence, I believe, has been from the resurgence of Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita.”  This novel outlines the perverted relationship between a 12-year-old girl and her mother’s new husband.  The child’s stepfather takes a keen interest in her youth and she is soon manipulated into a sexual and romantic relationship with him.    

Though this book is regarded as a literary classic, it brings up morally questionable and not to mention illegal acts and normalizes them.  

An example would be that it has been responsible for the birth of the “Lolita Coquette Aesthetic” which glamorizes age gap relationships, mirroring the sickening plot of Nabokov’s story.  

This aesthetic has been trending on social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram, and can range from simply enjoying the childlike innocence of the “girly” aesthetic to envying women who are in relationships with significantly older, wealthy men in which their purpose in the relationship is to be the Victoria’s Secret model girlfriend or wife. 

Sadly, the toxicity of this glamorization often goes unnoticed.  Women in these relationships often are more likely to endure physical and mental abuse as well as are manipulated into being trapped in extremely unhealthy relationships in which they are afraid to speak out against their spouse or seek help.  

This is not to say that all age gap relationships are disgraceful or necessarily toxic and unhealthy.  However, if the media is going to glamorize this trope, I believe that it is equally important to shed light on the dangerous possibilities of this normalization, especially regarding impressionable teenage girls and young women.