American lifestyle guru Martha Stewart has become the oldest cover model for Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit edition, at the age of 81. The businesswoman, TV personality and celebrity chef was photographed in 10 different swimsuits in the Dominican Republic in January, in a shoot that is commanding attention on social media.
Thrilled to be on cover of the @SI_Swimsuit issue! I hope this cover inspires you to challenge yourself to try new… https://t.co/WOJQROSYlK
A post on Monday on her Instagram feed – which shows Stewart on the magazine’s cover wearing a white swimsuit with a plunging neckline – said she had been approached by the publication last November.
“Usually I’m motivated by pay but this time I was motivated by showing people that a woman my age can still look good, feel good, be good,” Stewart said in a video on Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition website. “I don’t think about age very much, but I thought that this is kind of historic and that I better look really good,” she added.
On Instagram, she wrote to her followers about how “changing, evolving, and being fearless” are key life goals. “I hope this cover inspires you to challenge yourself to try new things, no matter what stage of life you are in,” she said.
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Stewart shot to stardom in the 1980s, publishing a number of bestselling cookbooks after enjoying success as a chef. She launched Martha Stewart Living magazine in 1990, following it up with a weekly television program that focused on cooking, entertaining and decorating.
Stewart later became America’s first self-made female billionaire. But in 2004, her career and reputation came crashing down when she was sentenced to five months in prison on charges related to insider trading.
She has been rebuilding her brand since then and earlier this year appeared in a Super Bowl ad with rapper Snoop Dogg, a longtime friend. “Never in her life has she let her circumstances dictate her outcome,” SI Swimsuit editor-in-chief MJ Day said of Stewart.
For years, Sports Illustrated was focused on young, white models but it has diversified. It featured a transgender model for the first time ever in its 2020 swimsuit issue. In 1997, Tyra Banks became the first black woman to appear on her cover. Its previous eldest cover model was Maye Musk, tech billionaire Elon Musk’s mother, who appeared in 2022 aged 74.