““Usually, I’m motivated by pay, but this time I was motivated by showing people that a woman my age can still look good.””
That’s lifestyle guru Martha Stewart, who’s now eager to show the world that it’s never too late to become a swimsuit model.
The 81-year-old entrepreneur is, in fact, a cover model of Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit issue. In a video that accompanies the online photo gallery, Stewart says, “I don’t think about age very much, but I thought that this is kind of historic…I want other women to feel that they could also be on the cover of Sports Illustrated.”
The publication announced Stewart’s cover appearance Monday morning, saying in a tweet that Stewart “is continuing to make her mark.” A spokesperson for Sports Illustrated (SI) told MarketWatch that Stewart is indeed the oldest swimsuit cover model in the publication’s history.
Stewart’s cover appearance has sparked plenty of reaction on social media and elsewhere — and much of it has been positive. As one person tweeted, “baby Martha Stewart is LIVING.” Another said: “My god, that is a FANTASTIC looking 81.”
Or as SI editor MJ Day told The Wall Street Journal: “Everyone is over the moon about Martha.”
The Stewart swimsuit feature also comes at a time when questions around ageism in society and the workplace are a hot topic. The issue has particularly become a focus of the upcoming presidential election in respect to President Joe Biden, who is currently 80. A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 68% of Americans thought Biden was too old for a second term.
At the same time, older women are finding increased acceptance in Hollywood, at least as evidenced by this year’s Oscars. Michelle Yeoh, 60, won the award for best actress for her role in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” and Jamie Lee Curtis, 64, won for best supporting actress for her part in the same picture.
See also: In youth-obsessed Hollywood, this has been a golden summer for older actors
See also: Oscar nominee Michelle Yeoh shows your best work can come in your 60s—and beyond
Not that Stewart is exactly new to posing for pictures. She started her professional life as a model in her teens, though she later became a stockbroker. But obviously, she found her greatest success in the lifestyle space, with books, television shows and a magazine. Her net worth is estimated to be $400 million.
Stewart is one of four cover models for this year’s Swimsuit Issue. The others are actress Megan Fox, singer-songwriter Kim Petras and five-time SI swimsuit model Brooks Nader.
In the SI video, Stewart says being a swimsuit model has its challenges.
“Getting dressed in 10 different bathing-suit outfits can be a little exhausting,” she notes. “I’d rather just put on one thing in the morning and wear it all day long and even out to dinner.”
So, will Stewart be back for an SI encore? She told The Wall Street Journal that she has her mind on other things for now. “I care more about watching the evolution of my grandchildren than I care about watching my evolution,” she said.