Martha Stewart’s swimsuit cover broke the internet. Did it break barriers?

Martha Stewart is breaking boundaries and commanding the social media spotlight yet again, this time with an appearance at age 81 on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit issue.

The television personality and home-decor doyenne is the oldest woman to grace the front of the magazine’s celebrated issue, beating the record of then-74-year-old Maye Musk — mother of Elon, Twitter and Tesla chief executive — when she appeared in 2022.

“I am so thrilled to be on the cover,” Stewart wrote on Instagram, sharing a photo of herself clad in a white, deeply plunging one-piece suit.

“My motto has always been: ‘when you’re through changing, you’re through,’ so I thought, why not be up for this opportunity of a lifetime? I hope this cover inspires you to challenge yourself to try new things, no matter what stage of life you are in,” she added.

Her appearance has triggered praise as well as conversation about the subtle messages the cover photo sends about aging.

“Crafting, gardening, cooking, modeling, restaurant owner … What can’t Martha do? Unstoppable,” one fan wrote on Instagram.

“An icon,” another said.

Fellow celebrities also shared their admiration, from actress Jennifer Garner — “You are amazing!” — to Ellen Pompeo of “Grey’s Anatomy” fame. “Congratulations Queen,” Pompeo wrote. “You continue to school us all in what it means … and what it takes to be extraordinary.”

But there were also calls for high-profile women like Stewart to “age honestly.”

“Audiences and readers are well aware that the women featured will already have had access to all the advantages of privileged lifestyles, as well as top photographers and stylists,” said Deborah Jermyn, author and academic specializing in feminism and media at the University of Roehampton in England.

“At the very least, these kinds of moments prompt renewed discussion and awareness of beauty standards, ageism and our enduring cultural investment in youth,” she said Tuesday. “But of course this spills over into invaluable publicity for brands.”

A scandalous, two-piece history of the bikini

Shani Orgad, professor of media and communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science, agreed that it’s “about time” older women gain more positive visibility in the media but that such representation can be problematic.

Portrayals such as Stewart’s “challenge decades of invisibility, stereotyping, demeaning and caricaturing older women as dowdy and irrelevant,” Orgad told The Washington Post. “But this kind of visibility is also extremely uneven; we rarely see older women across lines of race, class, disability, and beauty standards.”

Stewart told the “Today” show on Monday that she had eliminated bread and pasta from her diet and went to Pilates classes every other day in preparation for her January photo shoot. It took place in the Dominican Republic, where she tried on nine different bathing suits and was snapped by photographer Ruven Afanador.

“To be on the cover at my age was a challenge, but I think I met the challenge,” she said, adding, “It was kinda fun.”

“To me, it’s a testament to good living, and I think that all of us should think about good living. … The whole aging thing is so boring.”

Stewart became a prominent presence in the 1980s for her home-hospitality tips, party planning and cookbooks. She soon built a media empire, hosting television shows and podcasts.

She spent time in prison in 2004 for obstructing a federal securities investigation — a five-month sentence in a minimum-security facility that she served while teaching yoga and crocheting. In recent years, she has become a social media personality who often shows up in memes, striking up a friendship with rapper Snoop Dogg and presenting an unusual narrative arc in the public eye.

Chloe Sevigny’s ‘Sale of the Century’ causes a frenzy

It has all won her new fans of a much younger generation.

“Never in her life has she let her circumstances dictate her outcome,” MJ Day, Sports Illustrated swimsuit editor in chief, said in a statement about the shoot. “She’s changed with the times — always one step ahead, it seems — to build a wide-reaching business empire.”

The magazine, which for years drew buzz for covers with some of the skimpiest bikinis and most buxom of models, has taken a different approach of late.

In 2019, Muslim model Halima Aden made history as the magazine’s first model to be photographed wearing a hijab and burkini, while Leyna Bloom became the first transgender cover model in its 2021 swimsuit issue. Last year’s issue featured Katrina Scott as the first visibly pregnant swimsuit model.

The Martha Stewart issue goes on sale Thursday. Its other celebrity models include actress Megan Fox and musician Kim Petras.

Stewart hailed the good genes she inherited from her mother and encouraged other women to be “fearless,” citing her modeling career and appearances in television commercials in her youth for building her confidence.

“Don’t be afraid of anything,” she said.

Source link

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: