There’s only one real reason to be mad about Martha Stewart gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition, and it’s not that they opted to showcase an 81-year-old woman — it’s that they went with a racist felon. I don’t find her personality redeeming, or her crime all that innocent.
Sweet, she cozied up to Snoop Dogg for a comeback after a five-month stint in federal prison on an obstruction charge and was so charming, and endearing that she was recorded dropping the N-word but didn’t get canceled for it. The overwhelmingly positive reception from people who aren’t adolescent bros to SI’s publicity stunt is egregious, and further proof of how much white people can get away with if they have the right branding.
It’s not an honor if it’s disingenuous
Sports Illustrated went with Stewart and not America’s next top model because eye candy has lost its hold on the masses. The Swimsuit issue was as close as you could get to porn without being judged for getting Playboy delivered, and now that there’s an encyclopedia of smut in everybody’s pockets, scantily clad bikini models aren’t as big of a draw as they once were.
To me, this feels like SI grasping at relevance because no one buys magazines anymore, and the publication’s status in the culture has vanished. They can act as progressive as they want, but the Swimsuit edition was/is the antithesis of that.
Still having a yearly issue dedicated to squeezing women in as little fabric as possible, in the guise of “sports,” isn’t furthering feminism. At least ESPN’s Body Issue feigned a sports angle and put both naked women and men in the frame. I don’t know if SI has done equal-opportunity exploitation because I could give a fuck about the Swimsuit Issue, but maybe they have, and I simply missed their previous attempts to justify this ongoing charade.
If SI really wanted to promote female beauty at all (legal) ages, they could’ve featured an elder celeb when it was still a huge deal to be the one rolling around in sand eye-fucking a camera. But they didn’t do that, and even though Stewart broke the record for the oldest woman to be on the cover, it was only a year-old mark as Maye Musk, at 74, earned the distinction in 2022.
And if you’re wondering, Maye Musk is Elon’s mom. However, I guess she wasn’t a big enough household name — regardless of her son’s notoriety — to gin up the publicity SI desired, so they went back to well for THE household name. Hey, it worked. Martha’s “historic” newsmaking made the Today Show, and she didn’t have to lifehack a melon baller to it.
Martha Stewart is the worst
Maybe it’s just that I’ve been making fun of Martha’s schtick for most of my life, or that I think old white people saying “shizzle” is about as lame as it gets, but she’s a bullshit con artist whose net worth of $400 million makes me question every decision I’ve ever made. She built an empire on centerpieces and lying to the SEC, and nobody treats her like Jordan Belfort.
Where’s Sam Bankman-Fried’s Tostitos deal? Let’s do a Home & Gardening party, Weekend at Bernie Madoff’s style, and see if we can posthumously prop him back into a Fortune 500 personality.
I don’t give a shit that Stewart is 81. The internet has shown us that everybody has a type, and she looks damn good with that blowout. Maybe if SI had gone this route earlier, the Swimsuit Issue would have a larger, more stable, and longer-lasting audience rather than husbands who weren’t allowed to have porn in the house in the ’90s.
Sports Illustrated didn’t do that though, and now it’s too late to give us an about-face with Elon’s mom and Martha Stewart. I know what you’re doing, SI, and I’m not falling for it. Next year, just put Henry Winkler in a thong, and have him jump his motorcycle over a pool of sharks. At least that’d be as honest as it is transparent.