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

The author and lifestyle entrepreneur says ‘being fearless is very good’

spinner image Martha Stewart stands next to a screen showing her cover for the 2023 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue on the Today show
Martha Stewart shows off her cover for the 2023 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue on "Today" on May 15, 2023.
Nathan Congleton/NBC via Getty Images

Martha Stewart, 81, just set a new record, as the oldest cover model in the history of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.

"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.”

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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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