Age and Lingerie: Some Thoughts on Turning 30

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Let me start this post by getting the really obvious thing out of the way first: I am now closer to turning 31 than I am to my 30th birthday. My born day is July 1st, and while I am totally looking forward to it (birthdays are cool), it doesn’t have that same momentous sense of occasion that my 30th did.

To be perfectly honest, I kind of psyched myself out when it came to writing this blog post. Back in August, when my 30th was recent and these photos by Andrew Thomas Clifton were taken, there was so much I wanted to talk about, not just in terms of the actual pictures (which I love), but also how it felt to change decades and be an “older” lingerie blogger.



I suppose I expected that being 30 would be very much like being 29, and, of course, in some ways it is, but I was surprised at just how much my sense of self and my personal identity shifted in the months following my birthday.

There was a certain sensation of finality accompanying my new age, a feeling of permanently breaking ties with young adulthood and a realization that middle age (and all the stuff that comes after the middle) was actually really, really close. And then, mixed into all that, was a wholly unexpected and completely startling concern with my appearance. I vividly remember checking in the mirror for crow’s feet on the morning of my birthday, something I had literally never done before in my entire life.

I don’t mean to sound maudlin here. I like my age. As the saying goes, it’s better than the alternative. But I don’t want to be disingenuous either. I experienced a not insignificant amount of cognitive dissonance. Suddenly, I was preoccupied with “30 under 30” lists, the shape of my breasts, and the question of if I should start wearing a bit of light makeup everyday. More than that, I wondered if my window of opportunity had closed. Both fashion and tech favor the young. Was I too late?

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I consider myself to be a reasonably self-aware person, and I definitely think of myself as a feminist (which obviously includes the notion that a woman’s value is not wrapped up in her age), but I still subconsciously assimilated a ton of societal messaging about aging. And while all this internal reorganization was going on, I was newly reminded that counteracting the effects of culture is more than just warm fuzzies and positive feelings.

As I shifted states from “young woman” to just “woman,” my point of view shifted as well. I questioned what it means to “look good for your age” or why looking younger is automatically viewed as a compliment. I was newly apprehensive of the term “anti-aging,” and I found myself searching for the ages of women in the magazine articles I read, looking specifically for those who’d achieved success later in life. I thought about what I wanted my life to look like in the next five years, knowing that they were going to go by faster than they ever had before. And I felt a sudden urgency to get things done. To stop holding back. To stop waiting for approval. To stop wasting time on dead ends and energy sinks. And then, just as suddenly as all those thoughts flared to life, they faded to the background. My brain had adjusted. I’d settled into this new stage.

I can’t say I’ve cracked the “how to get older without feeling weird” code, but I feel genuinely excited about my 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond. I feel like I’m turning into the person I’ve always wanted to become. And despite last year’s tiny hiccup, I’ve truly never loved my body and myself more. I’m softer now than I’ve ever been. And I’m almost certain my breasts aren’t the same shape they were a decade ago. I imagine I’ll see a gray hair soon, and I’m sure tiny laugh and smile lines with follow. But that’s all okay. It’s more than okay, in fact. I feel a renewed sense of purpose, of clarity, of direction, and amidst it all, this deep, underlying sense of contentment that I didn’t have a decade ago. I feel grounded, and I feel ready. And I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

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Oh! I suppose I should spend a few sentences talking about the lingerie and the shoot as well (that is the point of TLA, after all). The photos you see here were my first time working with Andrew Thomas Clifton, and he was absolutely amazing. We did all three sets at a house in Brooklyn, and these are some of my most favorite photos I’ve ever taken. I’m not perfectly toned, and my stomach’s soft, and my thighs jiggle some, but, like I said, that’s all okay. When I see these pictures, I see someone who looks strong and powerful, in control and confident. And those are all things I aspire to be everyday.

The black bra and panty set in the first photo series is by Dita von Teese and is accompanied by a robe from Cosabella, both purchased by myself. The peacock bodysuit in the second photo series is by Kiss Me Quick, and was given as a gift by the designer. The lace bra and panty set in the third photo series is also by Kiss Me Quick, and the lace pants are by KissKill; all three pieces are gifts from the respective designers.

I feel like this blog post was a bit of a deviation from our usual (I also feel like I used the word “feel” a lot), but I’ve been thinking about this stuff for awhile, and since lingerie definitely overlaps with body positivity and one’s view of self, I wanted to share it here. I’m wondering how some of you feel (or have felt) about growing older. Were there any surprises? Lessons learned? And since TLA’s audience spans all ages, what advice would you have for younger lingerie addicts? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Cora Harrington

Founder and Editor in Chief of The Lingerie Addict. I started TLA in a small studio apartment in 2008. Since then, it's become the leading lingerie blog in the world, and has been featured on the websites for Forbes, CNN, Time, Today, and Fox News. I believe lingerie is fashion too, and that every who wants it deserves gorgeous lingerie.

19 Comments on this post

  1. Kate says:

    Let me start by saying your photo shoot was stunning and you looked absolutely beautiful. With that being said turning thirty was an interesting experience. A few months leading up to it were introspective because , well , wow I’m going to be 30 the first decade in my life people won’t look at me as a kid any more. What are my expectations now ? What expectations to others have for me? I was never a rule follower so instead of finishing college I traveled around eastern Europe for a long period of time ,did some school, worked , decided I wanted to see what Alaska was like so I took a chance and moved up there to complete some school . I never did anything half cocked I just figured when it was time to be a “grown up” and devote my life to Children , Husband and Career I would settle down but , that always seemed like light years away . Then one afternoon a few months before I turned thirty I realized that all those light years caught up with me in what seemed to be the blink of an eye . Where was all this time i thought I had? then I started to panic I had job not a career I had a husband but no children and I’m 5’1 and petite so the Lady’s did quiet fit and I still bought a good majority of my clothing from my Juniors s section how in gods name am I going to dress ” like a grown up “ and be taken seriously when I still looked so young ? It wasn’t until the morning of my birthday that I woke up and realized I was happy unlike when I turned twenty I had a clue about myself and the world around me. Through all the introspect and slight panic I had forgotten basic things. In a nut shell that mini nomadic life style had taught me who I was and what I wanted I was no longer the child living out her parents dream of going to college to do what they never could . I was working toward a career that made me happy and fulfilled . I was more grounded my hips may be a little fuller but myself worth wasn’t attached to that and sexy was a state of mind not a state of being , sure a fantastic bra and underwear set helped the processes along but , it didn’t matter if I was a size 2 or 20 true beauty comes with knowledge and confidence. As for my “look” The best advice I got was ” Why prepare for old age you are still young and even when you’re not it’s what a good hair stylist is for. You’re the only one that has to know when those grays start coming in . ” Ironically the amalgamation of it all put life into perspective and gave me a greater appreciation for what I have done and learned and what I’m going to do and learn in the next decade.

  2. […] Age and Lingerie: Some Thoughts on Turning 30 by Cora Harrington, The Lingerie Addict […]

  3. John says:

    So a bit of encouragement and caution together.
    As a man who is going to turn 50 this year I bring some perspective that comes from being about 19 years down the road. First the encouragement.
    Life has never been fuller, alive, fulfilling, challenging. I smile more. I know myself better. I appreciate more often. There is a deeper sense of intimacy with things both inside and outside of me.
    If you are fortunate enough to be married that deepening of intimacy is something you’ll experience in your love and lovemaking as well. Your time together only gets deeper, warmer, easier. The rush of passion transitions to the warmth of appreciation.
    As an analogy, it is less about the flower that is a gift of nature and time and becomes more about the stem and roots. A greater sense of the whole.
    Embrace this time, a beautiful new door has opened.
    The cautionary tale
    So truth be told, I find my wife as or more lovely than when she was younger. Partly because I feel more connected to the fullness of her. I still find her body beautiful, however, she does not. Her self-consciousness is understandable, we all change.
    Here’s the problem though, it causes her to be more closed off, worried and less available physically. Limiting the fullness of intimacy – emotional, spiritual and physical. They are all intertwined.
    We have spoken about this and much love and assurance have been given, but that lack of self-acceptance blocks the flow to deeper love and beauty. This has been frustrating and I share with you and others simply to take note of both sides of aging and ultimately the liberating importance of acceptance as you age, both for you and those who love you.

  4. Trish says:

    The pictures are beautiful! I’m so glad you wrote this. I’m turning 30 soon and am very nervous about it, but this helps.

  5. Ashley says:

    I’m 28 and I have the terrible habit of forgetting my age, my older sister didn’t realize she had turned 30 until she was hanging out with me and we we’re trying to remember my little sister’s age and then she realized this year was her 31st birthday, so I guess it runs it the family. That being said, I love aging and it really doesn’t have much to do with feminism (although I am a feminist) but I’m just so much happier than when I was younger. I love younger adults but anything under 21 is a young kid to me. I almost feel sorry for them. I look young for my age and it’s not something I’m proud of, my husband makes fun of me that I’m 12. They say attractive people are more successful but not people that look like teenagers. I actually like my body a lot more than when I was a teenager (I was such an awkward teenager), I even like my boobs better although, I haven’t had kids yet and would gladly trade for them. Oh, also, my grandmother is 77 and she is so beautiful. Honestly, it’s creepy. You’re really beautiful too.

    My big thing about aging is I’m not sure I’m going to have kids and I kind of want them but I kind of don’t. I actually feel like my biological clock is ticking. My husband doesn’t really want kids, and we’re so happy together.

  6. T-Rex says:

    You look beautiful, Cora. I like all the shots, but I think the last one is my favorite because of your smile. You look like you are genuinely having fun.

  7. karla says:

    I love to hear women describe how they enjoy growing older. As I approach my 60’s (yikes) it seems to me that it does keep getting better and better. There were some sucky years in my 40’s but the growth that comes from moving through those things life throws at us forms us into women of depth. Now I feel like my life is only just coming together! Lingerie continues to make me feel beautiful and inspires me to never give up the efforts to stay healthy and “doing the best I can with what I got”. Your photos are truly gorgeous and I appreciate your attitude and point of view

  8. sol says:

    Like Cora i turned 30 last year, but i felt mostly like Mary…. to quote
    “It was so freeing to feel that the approval seeking woman in me was gone and left in my twenties. Lingerie actually played a big role in this feeling. The desire to adorn my body with it grew immensely. I have always LOVED lingerie but never more than after thirty, knowing that I deserved to be beautiful and feel beautiful.”
    This holds so true to me, I finally feel able to express myself and my sexuality however I like, I dont feel the need to hold back.
    Turning 30 was really really good for me…
    But i do agree with Cora, why is being younger looking seen as automatically a good thing??

  9. Emma says:

    A post that come at a poignant time for me too – I turn 30 in June and have not had a day go by in the last year where I haven’t thought about my impending anniversary. Stunning photographs – they really capture a sense of being happy in your own skin and a confidence that comes from having learnt and pondered and conquered :-). I’ve just returned from a week long solo trip to Chicago (from Bristol, England), something I’ve wanted to do for 10+ years, so at the moment am really feeling that buoyant sense of accomplishment and “coming of age” – as you say, changing from a young women to a woman and being very much okay with that.

    First time I’ve commented here – thanks for these thoughts :-).

  10. RedV says:

    You are, of course, absolutely gorgeous, both in these photos and otherwise. Thank you so much for writing about this! My thirties were a wonderful blur of discovery and strength and possibility.I loved my thirties; miss them terribly. However, the ‘middle age’ slide into ‘older woman’ now at 40 seems far different and less fun. I definitely struggle with the idea that all the sweet/fun/frivolous things in life — lingerie, little luxuries, heck, even sex — are behind me, and better left to those of a certain, smaller age, and clothing size. I wish there was more evidence negating that idea, but sadly, there is not. Perhaps one’s thirties are meant to be a buildup of strength and experience and confidence for the less-assured years that come after?

  11. Karen Wiesemann says:

    I could so relate to your article on getting older, things don’t change much at 70 either. There’s an old saying that life begins at 40 and I found that to be somewhat true, things coalesce in a deeper way. Also, don’t fear and fret about body changes, it just means you are living a good life. Say HI to you significant other for me.
    k

  12. Mary says:

    Great article! I distinctly remember what turning 30 felt like. It was so freeing to feel that the approval seeking woman in me was gone and left in my twenties. Lingerie actually played a big role in this feeling. The desire to adorn my body with it grew immensely. I have always LOVED lingerie but never more than after thirty, knowing that I deserved to be beautiful and feel beautiful.
    I can really relate to the difference in turning thirty. For me, I just knew that my body was mine to dress and present as I saw fit, with much less concern for standards imposed by anyone or anything outside of me. What mattered was how I felt about my body and my age.
    I am about a month away from my 50th birthday and looking forward to my fifties. I can say proudly, I never wish to be any age other than what I am. Of course, lingerie still, and will always be, a huge part of who I am and how beautiful I feel, no matter what age I am.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your gorgeous photographs! Your photos exude confidence and beauty. There’s nothing like lingerie to bring that out of anyone.
    Enjoy 31! It only gets better!

  13. Anni says:

    I can relate. I’m about to turn 32, have gray hair in abundance (thanks short lived stem cell pigment!) and have been searching for laugh lines that haven’t shown up yet. I did get confused for a high school student last weekend which I’m not sure is a compliment. I took it as one to be gracious. Thank you for being vocal about this topic!

  14. Thursday says:

    This is a really timely post for me, because I am very aware that I will hit 30 in June, and over the past few months have experienced some feelings and thoughts that genuinely came as a surprise. I’ve worked really hard at accepting and loving myself, and reject the negative messages out there with ease most of the time. So when, last year, I realised that I had acquired permanent grey hairs, the reality of starting to go fully grey shook me up a bit. I even pondered if I would start dying my hair (except for a few experiments as a teen, this has never been a thought for me). My rebellious side has so far taken over again, coming to the conclusion that I shouldn’t be afraid of going grey, and there’s no reason to change my habits over fear of how others might view me or to fear change in myself. I take inspiration from women who are totally rocking the grey locks and have come to see it as a just a natural progression. I absolutely don’t judge women who dye their greys but have come around to the alternative for myself (at this point, of course :))

    Meanwhile, whilst there are a few challenges in my life right now to work through, I know I am the most confident, experienced, skilled and perceptive I have ever been. I have love, accomplishments and stability I have worked so hard for, and I know there is still so much to do. Maybe I haven’t come as far in my professional life as I could, but I’ve achieved more than seemed possible at times and paved the way forward. And yes, my body will keep changing, but it was never static anyway. I want to focus on keeping it healthy, and just try to take all the external signs of ageing as they come.

    Of course, it goes without saying your photos look great – lovely styling, excellent work by Clifton and such a great range of moods :)

  15. You look AMAZING. Not just for your age, but amazing for any age! Honestly. This is my first time visiting your website, and I really enjoyed this post. I just turned 23 and I’m already having an “oh my gosh, I’m getting older” crisis. It seems like everyone doing big things are younger than me and that I “missed that moment” in my life. I’ve also been studying my face looking for any signs of aging and looking at my breasts to see if they’re changing shape, which is ridiculous. I’m also not where I would like to be in my life emotionally, physically, geographically, etc. This post was very beautiful and inspirational. Society puts a lot of pressure on women to stay young, and that makes getting older an extremely scary and stressful ordeal, which isn’t right. If this is what you look like at 30-31, I’m jealous!

    xx
    Caked To The Nines

  16. Lee Rivers says:

    After I turned thirty, those 30 Under 30 lists started annoying me. Was the time for ambition in a tech career too late? Had I not written songs while my brain still had an ear for melody? So many what-ifs about the paths I’d taken restricting me from further ones. Then I thought about the choices my life gives me already. There are things I can do now that I couldn’t in the past or wouldn’t be able to if I’d decided on other educations, careers, and hobbies. I’m mostly content a couple of years later but I’ll admit every so often I’ll wonder who else I might have become.

    When I see these pictures, I see someone who looks strong and powerful, in control and confident. And those are all things I aspire to be everyday. Well said, and an inspiration. Thank you, Cora.

  17. Sweets says:

    Ugh, I loved reading this so much, and not just for the unbelievably stunning photos (YOUR FACE, SO GORGEOUS). I have always firmly been in the “my age is my age, what’s the big deal? camp, and then the morning of my 30th birthday I woke up and felt my stomach just plummet. If my (twin) sister hadn’t woken up at the exact same time and looked at me and said something along the lines of “ew, do you feel terrible about this all of a sudden, and by “this” I mean “happy birthday”, I guess?” I might have started crying, which are feelings and reactions that came totally out of left field and blindsided me. I didn’t expect to feel any different! Certainly not sad– I’ve always hated how people use age to put women down, like getting older is something shameful they’ve sloppily allowed to happen. And as much as I tell myself that we build our lives as we build them, and we shouldn’t feel pressured by arbitrary timelines to do X thing by Y date, I can’t help but worry that at some point I missed a train I was supposed to catch (both personal and professional), and now I may never catch up. When I first started blogging I thought I was too young for anyone in the industry to take me seriously, and now I worry that, at the ripe old age of 30, I’m “too old” to be exciting or appealing or what have you. But I definitely feel the “urgency” you mention– I’m better able to say “no” or to shut the door on things that would eat up my time and energies in order to focus on projects that will be more rewarding. I’m really excited to see what comes your way in your 30s, 40s, 50s– you’re a big inspiration, and while I’m still sorting out my feelings about turning 30 six months later, I hope I get to that point of feeling grounded and ready to see what’s ahead, instead of feeling like I’m falling behind. Also, it has to be said again, THESE PICTURES. They are beautiful.

  18. My 30th birthday is in December of this year, and I have been looking at it with more apprehension than excitement lately. Logically, I know I am giving into societal pressures to stay young forever, but I still can’t help those nagging feelings of finality you mentioned. I have no idea why I feel this way. When I went to a community college, there were men and women making entirely new careers for themselves in their 40s and 50s. It’s not like life ends at 30 for crying out loud, but it sure does feel like it some days. I’m nowhere near where you are mentally right now, but I am working on it. I just really enjoyed how grounded your perspective is, and I thought it was really brave to share all of these feelings here. By the way, my biological father had totally white hair by 30 (salt and pepper by 21), so mine and my brother’s hair has been bypassing gray altogether and heading straight to pure white. Eh, what are you gonna do? :) The boudoir photos look awesome too, of course, but it was your thoughts on 30 which really resonated with me today.

  19. Jeanna says:

    This was such a powerful feature to read – thank you for sharing. There were a few phrases you used, like the “internal reorganization” that’s been happening, that were just really striking and are really helpful for those of us who are approaching that. I’m in the nearing-30 camp, and am feeling the “young woman” to “woman” shift, and this is definitely a post to bookmark for future reading.

    And, the photos are amazing, but I’m also really wary of saying they are amazing because of how your body looks, you know? Those kinds of compliments that older women get in magazines, when we assess them (culturally) by how “youthful” they appear. I think the photos are so striking because of what you yourself say: there’s this raw, confident energy that just seeps through and is so captivating! And your smile in that last photo? So awesome. :)

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