The internet—or some parts of it, anyway—seems to have trouble accepting that Martha Stewart, is, in fact, that fabulous. Stewart, who is 81, broke barriers as the oldest woman to ever appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, and out come the critics—one wrote “This would be so impressive to see without Photoshop editing—it would be nice to have real representation of what women look like without being perfected.”
Another agreed, writing “Let’s not pretend that these photos aren’t comprised entirely of plastic surgery, Photoshop, and airbrushing…fun at 81? Sure, but there isn’t one authentic thing about any of these pics.”
Not so fast, says Stewart herself, who—not owing anybody anything, by the way—says of the accusations “I’ve had absolutely no plastic surgery whatsoever.” Of the shoot, she says she had just two months to prepare for it, and to do so upped her Pilates to three times a week, watched what she ate, and cut out alcohol.
“I had my regular facials but maybe more frequently, and I also got a spray tan,” Stewart says. “And I’m not a hairy person, but I got a complete body wax.” She also credits green juice, sunblock, vitamins, and “very healthy, good hair” for her appearance—which she says the Sports Illustrated cover reflects accurately.
“They’re very good,” she says. “There are only a few naysayers saying, ‘The pictures are over-retouched.’ But they’re not. They are incredibly accurate pictures. I was really pleased that there was not much airbrushing.”
Multihyphenate Stewart—entrepreneur, television personality, hostess—was, lest we forget, once a model, working with legends like Richard Avedon in her twenties. “When I was a model and posing all the time in bathing suits and sporty sexy things, that’s the time I should have been on the cover,” she says, laughing. “But I wasn’t $75-an-hour model then. I was only a $50- and $60-an-hour model.”
Calling the cover shoot an “opportunity of a lifetime” on Instagram, we could all take a page from Stewart: “I hope this cover inspires you to challenge yourself to try new things, no matter what stage of life you are in,” she wrote on Instagram. “Changing, evolving, and being fearless—those are all very good things, indeed.”
And can we expect a full-on Martha Stewart swimsuit calendar? The shrewd businesswoman is already on it. “Well, I am sending one to a friend who asked for it,” she says. “So I am making one for fun.”
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Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.
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