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Martha Stewart, 81, Stuns as Oldest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover Model

By Tim Appelo, AARP May 2023

Martha Stewart poses for the cover of the 2023 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, which is on newsstands May 18, 2023. RUVEN AFANADOR/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED

Martha Stewart is one of four cover models for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover swimsuit issue. The author and lifestyle entrepreneur says ‘being fearless is very good.’

"To be on the cover at my age was a challenge, and I think I met the challenge," she said on the Today show Monday. “I didn’t starve myself, but I didn’t eat any bread or pasta for a couple of months. I went to Pilates every other day, and that was great. I’m still going to Pilates every other day because it’s so great. And I just I live a clean life anyway … good diet and good exercising and healthy skincare and all of that stuff.”

As a multimedia star and America’s first self-made female billionaire, Stewart tends to be the most confident person in any room. But while she said doing the shoot was “kind of fun,” she confessed to a few jitters.

"I'm sort of shaking because it’s odd to go to an island and get changed into nine different bathing suits in one day in front of all those people.” The bottom line: “I like that picture. And it turned out OK!”

Stewart had an advantage: She started out as a teenage model. “My early modeling career was really helpful. That put me through college, and it was very good to learn how to pose in front of the camera. It was a nice job. You went from 50 cents an hour babysitting to $50 an hour [over $500 in today’s dollars] posing.”

“I think all of us should think about good living, successfully living, and not aging. The whole aging thing is so boring. You know what I mean? I have a hospital called the Center for Living at Mt. Sinai.”

Stewart, a longtime participant in AARP events, explained her center’s purpose to AARP Chief Communications and Marketing Officer Martha Boudreau at a 2019 event. “The goal is to help older people stay in their homes as long as possible,” Stewart told Boudreau. “It is terribly important not to demean the future life of an older person by putting them in a room in a nursing home. Patients heal much faster when they stay at home.”

“Older folks shouldn’t just give up on tech,” she told Boudreau. “I gave my mother at 85 a computer course, and she learned how to do email, investigate on the internet and more. She drove her Volvo until she was 93. Getting older is not about giving in and giving up.”

Stewart told Boudreau that no matter where you’re at in life, “You’re aging the moment you’re born. It’s just growing up. It’s living. And as we get older, we get more powerful. Age is powerful.”

“It’s all about growing old gracefully,” Stewart said on Today. “We don’t think about aging, we think about successful living, and we try to install in people the desire to eat well, exercise well, have friends, to have pets — to do all the things that make you happy as you get older. So that's what I’m all about.”

“When you’re through changing, you’re through. Change is very good. Evolution is very good. Just trying new things. Being fearless is very good. Don’t be afraid. Of anything.”

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