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Martha Stewart Reacts to Critics of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover: ‘I’ve Had Absolutely No Plastic Surgery Whatsoever’

At 81, the lifestyle mogul is the oldest person to be featured in the magazine's annual bathing suit issue

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Swimsuit 2023: Dominican Republic
Martha Stewart
Dominican Republic 2/1/2023
CREDIT: Ruven Afanador / Sports Illustrated
(Set Number: X164302 TK1 )
Ruven Afanador

Martha Stewart had just two months to get ready for her already iconic Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover.

She upped her Pilates to three times a week, watched what she ate and stopped drinking alcohol. “I had my regular facials but maybe more frequently and I also got a spray tan,” Stewart, who is up for three Daytime Emmys this year, tells me during a phone interview on Tuesday. “And I’m not a hairy person, but I got a complete body wax.”

At 81, Stewart made history as the oldest SI swimsuit model. A model in her 20s, Stewart worked with legends like Richard Avedon. “When I was a model and posing all the time in bathing suits and sporty sexy things, that’s the time I should have been on the cover,” she says before adding with a laugh, “But I wasn’t $75-an-hour model then. I was only a $50- and $60-an-hour model.”

Is this anything you really could have imagined at 81 years old?

It certainly has aroused an interest in many, many different places. I just got an email from Gayle King. She wrote, “Congratulations, this is really great. You look stunning, and blah, blah, blah.” I wrote back to her, “Next year is your year.” She wrote back, “I would have never even considered that it would happen, but now?” That’s what’s happening. People are now reimagining their future. And that’s what it’s all about. You can call upon the past but reimagining the future for yourself, for your family, for anybody is a very good thing right now, because of the chaos this word is in.

How much of a say did you have in what you’d wear?

In the beginning, I said I would do it but I wasn’t going to wear a fuddy-duddy bathing suit with bows and drapery and all that stuff. I was not going to wear anything like that because I don’t wear stuff like that. I had to go down to the Dominican Republic. I got in very late and we had a very spare dinner and then the next morning I had to try on a room full of clothes that they had brought down. We started to shoot at eight o’clock in the morning and shot until six o’clock at night. I had nine different outfits.

Had you ever been asked before to be in the swimsuit issue?

Never. When they called, I asked my daughter, Alexis, if I should do it and she said, “Cool.” She didn’t say, “Are you crazy?” I thought that was the best response.

I imagine Playboy had come to you in the past.

No. I would never have done Playboy because I found that a very improper magazine because I was brought up a prude. We were very conservative. When we changed our clothes, we closed the bedroom door. We were not overt – except my middle sister was overt.

Sports Illustrated

Were you comfortable being shot in just a bathing suit then?

I gritted my teeth and said, “We’re doing a bathing suit shoot.” They pushed me and primped me and all that stuff.

Have you been reading the comments on your Instagram post with the photos?

They’re very good. There are only a few naysayers saying, “The pictures are over-retouched.” But they’re not. They are incredibly accurate pictures. I was really pleased that there was not much airbrushing.

What do you think when you read comments that say you must have had a lot of work done to look so good?

Well, it’s not true. I’ve had absolutely no plastic surgery whatsoever. I have very healthy, good hair. I drink green juice every day. I take my vitamins. I eat very healthfully. I have very good skin doctors. I’m very careful in the sun. I wear hats and I wear sunblock every single day.

Were you ever tempted to do plastic surgery or fillers?

Every now and then there are certain fillers that I can do for a little line here or there, but I hate Botox. It’s a weird thing for me. I really and truly don’t do a lot.

Will we be seeing a Martha Stewart swimsuit calendar?

[Laughs] Well, I am sending one to a friend who asked for it. So I am making one for fun.

A friend-friend or a romantic friend?

It’s a friend-friend.

Will you be using these photos for your dating profile on Tinder or Hinge?

The algorithm doesn’t fit me very well. Or I don’t fit it. Put it that way — I don’t fit it very well. I tried. It’s ridiculous.

Earlier today it was announced there is going to be a “Golden Bachelor” dating show for older singles. Would you ever be on it?

If I get to see the men first.

Would you consider doing a reality dating show?

I’m very busy. I have my beautiful cooking, entertaining and gardening shows which I’m very interested in so I don’t think I would do a reality dating show. They did ask me to “Dancing With the Stars,” but I didn’t have time to go out to California. That would have been fun.

There’s still time. They’re still doing it.

I know, but I’m not interested anymore. I’d like to be in a movie sometime. I’ve had little parts in movies like “Bad Moms.” Silly movies. But I’d really like to do something more in a movie.

You could be in a Marvel movie. You could be a superhero.

That would be great. I can be the Queen of the Universe.

You already are. Do you do you watch Marvel movies?

I go to the Marvel movies sometimes. They have to be on the big screen. You can’t watch them on an iPad.

This interview was edited and condensed for length and clarity. “Martha Cooks,” “Martha Gardens” and “Martha Holidays” are available on The Martha Stewart Channel on Roku.