Is Martha Stewart’s Sports Illustrated cover breaking barriers or creating them? 2 Manitoba seniors weigh in

Two older Manitobans have mixed feelings on Martha Stewart becoming the the oldest cover star of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue at the age of 81.

The lifestyle and homemaking icon is pictured wearing a white one-piece swimsuit on the sports magazine’s famed annual issue. The businesswoman and media personality wrote in an Instagram post Monday that she hopes the cover inspires people “to try new things, no matter what stage of life you’re in.” 

For two Manitoba seniors, matching Stewart’s appearance seems unattainable for most in their age bracket.

Beverly Suek said she was concerned when she saw the magazine cover, and is worried Stewart’s portrayal is actually detrimental to older women.

“It’s an impossible dream,” Suek said in a Wednesday interview with CBC Manitoba’s Marcy Markusa on Information Radio.

“You can never achieve that no matter how many age-defying creams you buy or how much Botox you use.”

An older woman wears a white one-piece swimsuit and a yellow shawl.
Lifestyle icon Martha Stewart appeared on the May 2023 issue, but two Manitoba seniors wonder if the 81-year-old woman’s appearance will negatively impact older women. (si_swimsuit/Instagram)

She likes the idea of an older woman on the cover, though.

“It’s an interesting idea and it would be great if they were showing a 81-year-old woman as a vibrant, sexy woman with wrinkles and all and that’s a good thing,” Suek said, adding that she believes the image was altered.

“I was really concerned of the fact that this was photoshopped and airbrushed or whatever in such a way that it wasn’t real, it wasn’t how an 81-year-old woman looks.”

LISTEN | Manitoba seniors weigh in on Martha Stewart’s cover photo:

Information Radio – MB8:30How two Winnipeggers navigate body image in older age

The new Sports Illustrated cover featuring Martha Stewart has created a lot of conversation about age, confidence and body image. But what does it actually feel like to be an older woman in modern society? Two Winnipeggers in their 70s and 80s share their experience.

Sonja Lundstrom agrees that the image doesn’t seem realistic, but applauds Stewart for expressing herself and trying new things.

“We’re all born individuals and express ourselves in different ways. She chose to do it, but it wouldn’t be my choice,” Lundstrom, a woman in her 80s, said on Information Radio on Wednesday.

She thinks social media and the uproar this cover has generated has generally had a net positive effect on older people.

“I think it could be very positive because they see us out riding our bikes, out skiing, out actively doing things, being involved in a meaningful way in the community,” she said.