Martha Stewart Gives a Lesson in Ageless Living With Her Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover

At 81, the icon is the oldest woman to be featured on the cover of the annual magazine.

Martha Stewart was photographed by Ruven Afanador in the Dominican Republic. Swimsuit by Monday Swimwear. Cover-up by TORSO CREATIONS. Earrings by Anita Ko. Ring by Jacob & Co.

This interview originally published in the 2023 SI Swimsuit Issue and was written by six-time Emmy Award winning writer, producer and director, Ryan Murphy.

I was sitting having lunch with Martha Stewart at her home when she pushed away a delicious plate of lemon pasta she had whipped up herself and proclaimed, with a little bit of a saucy wink, “No more for me. I want to look good for my Sports Illustrated shoot this week.” She paused. “It’s a cover.”

Was I shocked? Only for a millisecond. Of course it makes perfect sense that Martha would grace the Swimsuit Issue, at the age of 81. She’s always been a rule breaker, a pioneer and a beacon of style who lights the way for all of us.

Related: Megan Fox and Martha Stewart Are Both Wearing This Brand in Their Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover Shoots

I was introduced to the world of Martha in the 1990s as a devotee of her magazine, Martha Stewart Living. And live she does. And that, I think, is the key to this icon: Life is an adventure to her, and it shows. Martha is inspirational and aspirational. It was Martha more than anyone in the culture in the past 100 years (maybe since Emily Post!) who turned entertaining, gardening, crafting and cooking into an art form. Her secret, I think, is that we all kind of want to be her—optimistic, daring, adventurous, capable of turning the most mun- dane into exuberance. She is disciplined. She is curious and demands new experiences for herself. She is an everywoman, with a tinge of snob. Her manners are impeccable, and her laugh is infectious. 

More than that, she has survived everything—scandals, men, changing culture, a pandemic, middle age—and has come out of the other side with her humor intact and our horizons broadened. A year or two ago, Martha posed for a thirst trap selfie in her pool, and it made international news. She looked radiant and, more than that, sexy. She was rewriting the rules yet again about what a woman can be, and how, and at what age. And here she is again, topping that moment with this cover and being news- worthy and boundary-pushing yet again. Martha Stewart is kind, she is hilarious, and she’s taught me a lot. More than anything, she is a lesson in ageless living.

View Martha Stewart’s full 2023 SI Swimsuit gallery here.

This interview originally published in the 2023 SI Swimsuit Issue. Buy the issue here.

Ryan Murphy