We can all sometimes think our jobs are demanding. It’s the reason we book regular vacations and relax at the weekend. But while our jobs may put the pressure on, they could never be compared to running one of the most prestigious offices in the world.
Serving as President of the United States, whether it be for one term or two, is a huge commitment which demands every ounce of your attention and energy – or, that of your staff for those times when you’d rather sit in bed with a McDonald’s takeaway than run the country.
Naturally, when you focus every part of your mind and soul on the plight of other people, natural disasters, impending doom and your own personal problems, it can have a considerable effect on your body. From an errant grey hairs to deep wrinkles, these former Commanders-in-Chief all prove that there is a price to pay for being one of the most important people on the planet…
1. Barack Obama (2008-2017)
When Obama first took to the Oval Office in 2009, he was a vision of youth. At 47-years-young, he was a stark contrast to his greying predecessor, George W. Bush. But the strain of eight years behind the Resolute desk became distinctly visible when the Obama, the first black president, stepped down in 2017.
Could it have been the pressure of reviving America after the 2008 financial crash that prompted those stray silver hairs to arrive prematurely? Or, the horror of the multiple mass shootings over his tenure? Or, the carefully planned high-risk operation to assassinate Osama Bin Laden in 2011?
2. George W. Bush (2000-2008)
When George W. Bush was sworn in, he was the spitting image of his father who’d held the same office eight years prior. But unlike his father, Bush would go on to secure two terms as president, which evidently took their toll on the Texas-native.
Just eight months into Bush’s first term, the promising president was met with one of America’s worst atrocities when the September 11 attacks claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 citizens. In response, Bush launched a “War on Terror” which included the Iraq War, Afghanistan War and the controversial torture of prisoners.
This, combined with the chaos caused by Hurricane Katrina and the “Great Recession”, saw Bush leave the Oval Office looking pretty exhausted.
3. Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)
Roosevelt commanded the Oval Office at a time when America was experiencing great strain as World War II and the Great Depression threatened to push the country into complete turmoil. Serving four terms in office (Roosevelt tragically died 11 weeks into his fourth term after his health severely deteriorated), Roosevelt is one of America’s most popular presidents with both historians and citizens of the time.
4. Bill Clinton (1993-2001)
When a 46-year-old Bill Clinton entered the White House in 1993, he was already sporting a head of grey hair. But eight years running the country – the latter of which were marred by the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal – saw deep wrinkles begin to appear over the Arkansas-born president’s face. Despite the controversies which are associated with his name, Clinton is still one of the highest rated presidents in history.
5. George H.W. Bush (1989-1993)
Before Clinton came George H.W. Bush, the father of George W. Bush. Despite being 64-years-old when he assumed office, Bush looked relatively youthful. But four years running the US would change that.
During his one term, Bush would see the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union dissolve. In addition, Bush continued to work hard on the War on Drugs (something he’d spearheaded during his eight years as Vice President under Ronald Reagen). Despite the evident effect that his four years as Commander-in-Chief had, Bush is currently the eldest living former US president at 93-years-old.
6. John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)
Many argue that the key to John F. Kennedy’s presidential win was his good looks. At 43-years-old he was one of the youngest presidents to ever be sworn in, and this youth had a large part to play in his success.
Sadly, Kennedy’s turbulent time in office would end in disaster when he was famously assassinated in Dallas in 1963. However, the effect of his two years and 10 months as President of the US were telling on his famed good looks. The Cuba Missile Crisis, Bay of the Pigs invasion, and Civil Rights Movement clearly put the president under pressure.
7. Gerald Ford (1974-1977)
Gerald Ford may only have served for two years and five months, and mostly due to a complete fluke (he became Richard Nixon’s Vice President for eight months after the resignation of Spiro Agnew, then became president when Nixon resigned in 1974), but that short time aged the Nebraska-born president considerably.
8. Richard Nixon (1969-1974)
Richard Nixon, the only president to ever resign, is possibly one of America’s most famous leaders, sadly for all the wrong reasons. Despite ending the war in Vietnam and successfully bringing home American prisoners of war, instigating a missile treaty with the Soviet Union and presiding over the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing, Nixon’s tenure as president will be best remembered for the Watergate scandal, which saw him become the first president to be impeached. No wonder he suddenly looked so old by the time he stepped down.
9. Harry S. Truman (1945-1953)
Harry S. Truman was the only world leader to ever use nuclear weapons during in a war, which unsurprisingly changes a person, as his before and after photos show!
10. Ronald Reagen (1981-1989)
Ironically, as a star of the silver screen, Ronald Reagen was always expected to look his best. But as President of the United States, his sleek style was soon forgotten. During his first term, Reagen had to contend with an assassination attempt which came scarily close to claiming his life, but that didn’t stop him from running again. He is now considered one of America’s most successful presidents.
11. Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961)
Eisenhower’s two turbulent terms in office may not have stopped him from smiling, but it did certainly change something in his appearance.
12. Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865)
Lincoln is one of America’s most famous presidents, iconically responsible for abolishing slavery, but being held in high regard did little to take the apparent strain off of the 16th President of the United States. Assassinated just one month and 10 days into his second term, Lincoln’s time in the White House was cut unforgivably short.
13. Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969)
LBJ took to the White House after the assassination of JFK in 1963. This rocky start was followed by the escalation of the Vietnam War, the “War on Poverty” and mass riots throughout the country from those who opposed America’s involvement in South-East Asia. With all that taken into consideration, it’s little surprise that LBJ looked tired by the end.
14. Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)
Less than eight months after assuming office the Wall Street Crash of 1929 knocked Herbert Hoover, a man with little prior political experience, to the curb. As the country spiraled deeper and deeper into the Great Depression, Hoover frantically and relatively unsuccessfully tried to fix the problem. His efforts failed and a weary-looking Hoover was later succeeded by Franklin D. Roosevelt.
15. Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)
Carter may have come into the presidential race as a dark horse candidate, but he proved his power by beating Gerald Ford in a close election. Despite his one term being dubbed fairly below-average by historians, Carter’s worn face shows the signs of someone who worked extremely hard.