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I have very mixed emotions about seeing Martha Stewart, at age eighty-one, on the cover of the 2023 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.  You are probably familiar with all the amazing things Martha Stewart has accomplished over her eighty-one years, including being a white-collar criminal who was jailed for five months for lying about a stock sale. Oh, and she’s also a billionaire.

I think about ageism a lot, and I personally see this as an illustration of a kind of reverse ageism.  No woman is expected to look fantastic in a swimsuit at Martha’s age.  Clearly a lot of work has been done to her body, (some her own efforts at Pilates, etc) but to me, this sends an inaccurate message about what we can hope to be as 80-somethings.

Maybe this is sour grapes on my part.  I wonder what others think.


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Cleta Flynn

I agree, being 82, myself and struggling to accept the me now...but to me Martha is a living example of science fiction. Maybe she is a trailblazer for aging in the future...but right now, she makes me sad.

Deborah Pepe

At 81 myself, the last thing I would is want to be on any magazine cover, let alone a swimsuit issue. However, I must admire the way Martha Stewart has reinvented herself over the many many years. Go, Martha!

Richard McNally

Haven’t seen it and I have a feeling I’m not going to rush out the door to a newsstand—if I can find one--to buy a copy. Bring back Out of Town News and Ticket Agency! It’s just no good having an enormous hole in the middle of the Square. Terrible loss. Almost as bad as the loss of The Tasty.

Nancy Grenda

First and foremost i truly love your column and look forward to reading it..
I found the Martha photographs disheartening…are we to believe she looks this way? And are we to feel we should also not have a wrinkle or sag at 81…the thing that bothered me the most was the accolades and praise from the morning news shows, an i use the word “news” lightly…
Proudly 81 years of age..

Richard McNally

I remember a print ad or commercial from the ’60s featuring a beautiful woman looking into the camera and saying, “Please don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.“ I’m surprised attention-whore Martha didn’t use that tag line. I guess even her hubris has its limits.


The others think the same

jackie in Arizona

Not sour grapes at all! I was appalled and several of my mature friends agree. Reverse ageism, yes. And I feel the same about the new movie Book Club , the Next Chapter, in which the characters appear to be totally clueless about traveling, culture, and even literature. They are worse than any young people I know as they obsess about sex and demand details of any encounter with a man.


I’m right there with you on this one. I thought it was a pathetic way to stay relevant. She may look good at 81 years old, but a persons hands never lie. A whole lot of photo touch ups went into those pictures.


I'm 83 and I totally agree with you. Not sour grapes in my book.


It's not sour grapes, it's reality. I'm 86 and quite different than when I was 80. Martha had the money to re-sculpt her body and put the time and effort into making herself look unnaturally young. She probably has the good fortune to have a healthy, strong body, which many of us do not at this age. To me, it's extreme vanity. There are many who will look at her with awe and envy, but not I. I admire older celebrities who keep their real faces and bodies with grace.

Yellow Shoes

I’m in the Celebrate the Wrinkles brigade.
I have good wise friends in their 80s who look their age and act their age. They live honest lives - why would you not?
The Book Club movies? Silly and cliché - women refusing, almost terrified, to just be themselves.

susan patrick

I am sick and tired of being bullied my whole life about how I am supposed to look. We have the right to age in our own way without comparisons to older women who are still trying to look like young starlets. The result (I'm thinking about you Jane Fonda) is often grotesque. Hollywood realizes they need to appeal to older audiences but this is not the way. Interesting they don't do this to men. I still make an effort with my appearance at 77 but I don't want to feel that I have to look like a teenager to look nice. And speaking of teenagers, I'm tired of the condescending attitude towards older adults that assumes that they need to act like adolescents to be interesting.


A friend commented, "Martha looked so fake she must have a part in the new Barbie film." The (admitted by her) fillers, plus more cosmetic work, hair extensions and the photoshopping were all a disappointment to this nearly 80 year old. So many mentioned Helen Mirren as a natural beauty they would have appreciated seeing on the cover. I guess it's not a "good thing" to look one's age.

Jenyce Jiggetts

Having read all of the posts previous to this one, I am probably the only one who disagrees :(.
I am 84 and look much younger than Helen Mirren who I think is 77ish.

So, when someone says "look one's age" today is doing an injustice to all those old folk who look much younger (than what they should look like?).

I've not had anything done to my face and don't have the money to get the kind of skincare and other various lifestyle pleasures that Martha gets. And I do not give compliments to women's looks who I know have had "work" done, i.e. Jane Fonda, etc. However, some women do not look anywhere near how one thinks one should look at a certain age. In my case a combination of good genes, a good diet, and somewhat healthy living.

Kate Hughes

I look forward to reading Judy's observations on life. She always covers a wide range of topics. This one is fun.
My first thought was that Martha Stewart was pathetic for voluntarily put herself into the spotlight in this way. Didn't anyone counsel her to re-think this grab for attention?
My second thought: I remembered how the Swimsuit edition was traditionally viewed as a more wholesome version of Playboy magazine. Boys and young men kept the Swimsuit clad women under their mattresses. Hmm, the fact that they might be viewing a woman old enough to be their grandmother is disturbing. It's just wrong! And a little funny too.
If I were Martha Stewart I would fire any staff member who went along with this foolishness or does she only have herself to blame.

Nancy Thompson

My goodness, who gets to decide what an old person should look like? You people have lived on this earth long enough to recognize an almost endless variety of human beauty and individuality. But as an oldster myself, I'm
not going to begrudge anyone the gifts and accomplishments with which they have been blessed. And we should hope not many young people will read these comments and see what a grumpy and bitter bunch old people can be.

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