Age and Lingerie: Some Thoughts on Turning 30
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?
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.
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.