Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Eighty-one-year-old Martha Stewart is the oldest woman to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated’s famed swimsuit edition. She looks fabulous! Good for her! Plus, it’s fun seeing a slight variation from the conventionally attractive and fit twenty-something model with a conventionally attractive and fit octogenarian model. But are these smoking beachside pics enough to free women from the shackles of patriarchal oppression?
On Monday, in an interview on the Today show, Martha sat down with Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie to discuss serving cunt in a senior citizen way. “I think a lot of people are going to be super inspired by this,” Savannah offered to her. Nodding in response, Martha said, “Women have gone through a tough time for the last ten years, and recently with the pandemic and #MeToo movement, we’ve really been sort of battered around.” She added, “I hope it does give people, women especially, an opportunity to revisit their lives and get with the picture.” The women then continued the conversation about the power of self-confidence.
Yes, Martha looks fucking great in these photos and it’s cool to have a woman past menopause reminding everyone they’re sexy as hell. But confidence and lack of inspiration aren’t what kept women down during the #MeToo movement—it was the structures in place that protected abusers and reprimanded women for speaking out. And no amount of botox units will reverse the effects of systemic stress and fatigue women and caregivers had to endure during covid lockdown.
Women facing these systemic issues aren’t in dire need of a hot memaw telling them to believe in themselves. They need work environments that aren’t going to blacklist them for calling out shitty bosses and coworkers. They need better and more affordable access to healthcare and childcare. With that off their plate, maybe then they can—if they want—dedicate every day of their lives to pilates and not eat bread or pasta for months on end, as Martha said she did in prep for this photoshoot. (For the record, no thank you.)
I wish Martha, Hoda, and Savannah (and all of us) could simply revel in this fun cultural moment—where an 81-year-old is being celebrated as a sexual icon—without it having to be a whole inspirational thing. Not everything a woman does is in the name of feminism or meant to better all women and that is OK! Today a multi-millionaire who has every anti-aging serum and procedure at her fingertips looked hot on the cover of a magazine. Love that for her! She really doesn’t need to make it about anything else.