“Ageism Is A Thing”: MAFS‘ Andrea On Why The Photo Ranking Challenge Was So Tough For Her

Since she first graced our screens on Married At First Sight, Andrea Thompson has been a fan favourite. At 51 years old, she's one part of the oldest couple of the season and one of the oldest women to be in the experiment. Her authenticity has been refreshing for many viewers, illuminating the power of diverse age casting.
But this week of episodes saw the return of Confessions Week, which included a task that has caused a stir amongst the couples: the photo ranking challenge. Requiring you to rate how attracted you are to other cast members and then putting your own partner in the lineup has been a tense exercise for many couples. While many of them read the room and understood that they should place their partner first in the line-up, Andrea's husband Richard didn't follow suit, instead placing her third.
This would be a confronting task for anyone, and especially if you're a good 25 years older than many people in the cast. "It actually really hurt watching that again," Andrea tells Refinery29 Australia. "I thought I was acting real cool, but you could totally see how I was feeling."
Andrea shares that the task was particularly challenging because it was something that would never happen in the real world. "When you're confronted with someone ranking you like that, it's awful," she explains. "It makes you feel so bad because I would never do that to someone in the real world."
"I just believe that when you have your husband, no matter what, they come first. You just don't do that to your person."
Andrea shares that Richard sent her a text after the episode aired, apologising for his actions.

I went, I'm actually going to get bagged a lot and picked on and fat-shamed and all of the things, but I've actually had none of that. I've had nothing but love.

Andrea Thompson
The task highlights societal expectations of beauty, and how older women are perceived in society. We know that ageism is such a prevalent issue (you don't need to see 12-year-olds buying retinol to know that), and for Andrea, this also stirred up fear about how she would be viewed and treated by the rest of Australia.
"I had a bit of fear going into the experiment because we are the oldest couple that's been on," Andrea says. "I went, I'm actually going to get bagged a lot and picked on and fat-shamed and all of the things, but I've actually had none of that. I've had nothing but love."
"They asked for a real woman to go on this show. They want real people and here I am," she says. "Ageism is a thing, but I'm being really warmly received, and it's made me feel amazing and taken a lot of anxiety away about showing up on the experiment."
When it comes to representation of ageing on screen, Andrea understands that her presence on the television is something a lot of people have wanted to see for a while. "They've asked to stop putting on the bikini model influencers and 'plastic' people — and here I am. I've got wrinkles. I've got a bit of chub. But I'm still happy and I'm still living," she says.
While Andrea says that she's still dealing with seeing the contrast between herself and younger contestants, she says that the show has been an exercise in learning to love herself. "I'm learning self-acceptance and how to be kind to myself, because we always pick on ourselves," she says. "You sometimes don't see yourself how your best friend would see you."
"I'm learning to talk to myself how I would talk to my best friend and not let her speak badly of herself," she continues. "That's a huge lesson that I think most people can take, and I'm still trying to take that on board myself."
As for the future, Andrea says that it's likely not the last time we'll see her and Richard have some disagreements. "There's some doozies coming with Richard and I, that's for sure," she says. "I've walked out with the love of my life. I'm not saying who though." Does this mean this MAFS couple is still together? Broken up? Only time will tell.
Love MAFS? You can read some of Refinery29's MAFS recaps for 2024 here.
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