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Martha Stewart becomes Sports Illustrated‘s oldest cover model

Martha Stewart has become the oldest person to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated in a stunning spread, which she hopes will inspire others to challenge themselves.

The former celebrity chef and “beauty icon” appears on the cover of Sports Illustrated‘s annual Swimsuit Issue at the age of 81, following in the footsteps of the likes of Elle Macpherson, Beyonce and Kim Kardashian.

SI‘s Swimsuit editor in chief MJ Day said the 2023 issue had no theme, but rather a “vision, a sentiment, a hope that women can live in a world where they feel no limitations, internally and externally”.

Speaking to Sports Illustrated about the shoot, Stewart said she was inspired to do it so she can show people that even at her age, women can “still look good, feel good, be good”.

“When I heard that I was going to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, I thought, ‘Oh, that’s pretty good. I’m going to be the oldest person I think ever on a cover of Sports Illustrated’,” she said.

“I don’t think about age very much but I thought that this is kind of historic and that I better look really good.”

Photographed by Ruven Afanador in the Dominican Republic, Stewart said the experience wasn’t “too stressful” but getting dressed in 10 different swimsuits was “exhausting”.

Her cover shot features a plunging white Monday Swimwear one-piece ($290) and a billowing orange cover-up by Torso Creations. Inside, some of the other glamorous bathers modelled by the former chef are a red Norma Kamali one-piece and a lace-up maillot by Isa Boulder.

Stewart said her friend Snoop Dog would think the shoot was “fantastic”.

Other big names were quick to complement Stewart.

“Congratulations Queen. You continue to school us all in what it means…and what it takes to be extraordinary,” wrote actress Ellen Pompeo on Stewart’s Instagram post from the shoot.

Fellow actress Kerry Washington called her “iconic”, while Jennifer Garner enthused “you are amazing!”.

The businesswoman, perhaps known best for her cookbooks was also celebrated online for the shoot.

Fans praised her for taking part, while some said the magazine’s decision to feature a woman in her 80s on its cover was a massive milestone.

I know men probably don’t understand why so many women are celebrating this, but as a woman over 40, I can say, this really is awesome,” Banríon Capital Management founder, president and CEO Shana Orczyk Sissel tweeted.

“Celebrating women at all ages is awesome and is something that has never really been done before!”

Kim Petras’ historic cover

In another historic moment in Sports Illustrated history, Kim Petras has become the second transgender woman to appear on the cover of the swimsuit issue.

Petras told the magazine that while representation of transgender people was growing, it was still a “scary” time to be a transgender person in the US.

The German-born, Los Angeles-based singer and songwriter also admitted she felt pressure to represent the LGBT+ community.

I think what you do is the most important thing, not what your gender is and all of that,” she said.

“I always try to remember that, you know, everything I do is definitely not about being transgender, it’s a part of me, but there’s so many other parts of me and I think that’s really important for me to show to people.”

Petras was photographed by Yu Tsai in Los Angeles.

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