Soft Ageism—It’s a Thing. Thanks to Sports Illustrated and Martha Stewart

CAVEAT: If you are offended by my snarky tone then might I suggest you do not read this blog post and go read something about finding Talbots clothing.

Enchanting Animal Classic French Terry Half Zip Pullover | Talbots

And Talbots target consumer being the “over 50 woman”, ponder why a younger woman with no visible wrinkles is in the ad.

If you haven’t heard the news by now, please allow me to inform you.  Martha Stewart is the Cover Girl (Or rather, cover mature Woman of the 2023 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. In addition, her photos are also displayed among the infamous Swimsuit editorial.

Making history with a photoshopped, filtered, edited 81 year-old Martha Steward on Sports Illustrated.  I will say that her titties look great because they left the natural sagginess of the girls. That’s about the only thing that doesn’t scream “Quiet Ageism”

At 81 years old, she is the oldest woman to grace both the cover and pages of SI—and the swimsuit edition.

Megan Fox is also celebrated in the SI Swimsuit Issue. She, too, has had a ton of stuff done to her. But seriously folks, check out the Martha on the right. That’s more what she looks like.

Older women, for the most part that I’ve seen or read, are thrilled with this. And comments regarding the use of photoshop and editing are being called out from these same older women that humbly adore what SI has done, as the negative commenters being deemed “haters”.

Snow White Haters GIF

“Haters”–the new word for “You don’t agree with me and you are mean for not agreeing with me”.  Sing it Snow!

If an 81-year old man had been splayed in a swimsuit in any publication, without editing and showcasing his beer belly and his hairy body, he would be applauded—but a woman apparently has to be photoshopped. It’s a disgusting and misogynistic double standard.

Celebrate Old Man GIF by The Leith Agency

Old men are acceptable. Even with their ripples and wrinkles. Old women are not acceptable unless they are photoshopped!

Now, while I think it’s great that an older woman is included in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition, I’m also disgusted, disappointed and angry.

Any phase of aging has been erased from the images. Truth be told, Martha looks like an AI image of herself. And that’s wrong.  If the editors of SI had any balls or any sense of respect for the senior community, they would have left her image alone.  Had we been subjected to what Martha really looks like at her present season in life, it would have been a landmark and it would have showcased the true beauty of the aging process.

Quiet Photoshopping. Keep the softened crow’s feet but get rid of the textured skin. Erase the lines. Add a glow…

Middle pic of me is no filters or Facetune. I have freckles on my body and many wrinkles (thanks to baby oil and iodine and sun damage. I take full responsibility).  The pic on the far right is also me but with smoothed out skin and some lines erased. I tried making my mouth bigger but Facetune couldn’t do it because my mouth is already big.

I’m gonna skip around here before I come back to Martha.

It’s the “Quiet Ageism” that is daunting.  Yes. Sports Illustrated did showcase an 81-year-old woman.  However, it was done with photoshopping, filtering and the best damned lighting you could ever imagine.  On one hand she’s old. On the other, she’s been erased of all signs indicating she’s old.

Those titties again! You can tell the outline at her arms that even those were slimmed down a bit and the hands have been edited. For crissakes, Stewart has been blessed with great genes–showcase her in her unedited state and she would still look good.

Quiet Ageism is that ad for skincare where the vulgar term “anti-aging” is printed on the ads and the model is a 20-year-old who has been filtered to the point of no skin texture.

The 18 best anti-aging skin care products in 2023

Hey Aveeno, show a NORMAL, AVERAGE 55 to 65 year old after using this for a few months. I guarantee the wrinkles will still be there.  And stop using young models and Jennifer Aniston. We know you photoshop Jennifer!

Quiet Ageism is the ad from clothing companies that are “mature” women brands yet their models are nowhere near 50 or over.

Talbots - South Lake Avenue

Talbots.  The model on the far right, I believe IS older–but she’s been photoshopped to look younger. Even with conservative clothing brands quiet ageism is worse than quiet luxury.

Society looks down upon racism, antisemitism, sexism, and all the other “isms” but yet, ageism is the only ism to be swept under the carpet.  Society also looks down on ageing.   Ads for Juvéderm, Botox and other fillers will halt the process of ageing. Stop wrinkles before they appear.

Dozens of Cities Dub Racism a Public Health Crisis - Bloomberg

Trust me, racism IS a public health crisis and so is ageism. But ageism is the “acceptable” ism.

The fact is, wrinkles are part of the process.  Age spots are too. Crepe-paper skin is as are drooping eyelids and thinning lips and hair.  And instead of trying to hide the fact this happens; we should be working with this—and enhancing the great features that have remained our personal greatness.

Video gif. An elderly lady looks coyly at us while slowly looking up and down, and she has a sly smile on her face.

This is how we age. This is what the ageing process does. And quite frankly, this woman is looking pretty darn good!

How many senior citizens have the same job opportunities as young people?

37+ Best Jobs for Seniors (For All Situations)

This illustration is for an article regarding jobs for seniors. And the illustration is ageist. It showcases old people with white hair, bad haircuts and bad clothing.

How many older women are included on a regular basis in clothing ads, cosmetic ads and luxury brand advertisements?  Not many. And our demographic should be included in every ad where a group of women from all cultural and racial backgrounds are showcased.

Why Inclusive Beauty Brand CTZN Cosmetics Should Be on Your Radar - FASHION  Magazine

Ad for CTZN Cosmetics celebrating diversity. WTF is the old woman? And all these young people are photoshopped. It’s BS all the way!

I’ve read comments on social media discussing how “boomers” thankfully will be gone soon. Yes. I’ve actually read shit like this.  There’s plenty of Boomer Bullying out there so open your eyes.

The Office Boomer GIF by MOODMAN

Pretty much the welcome Boomers receive on social media and in real life.

In all honesty, I can’t really place the blame on Martha, she had an opportunity and went with it. And I’m pretty sure she’s had surgery—if I had her money, I would have that saggy chin lifted—but I would own it.

I honestly can’t place the blame on Martha. But for someone who pontificates baking from scratch and being organic–these photos aren’t very organic!

I couldn’t get The Frenchman to pour water over my head. But you can see from my top photo that I’m full of wrinkles and on the bottom one I erased them!!

And she does look great. When I see a “regular” picture of her she looks wonderful—old and wonderful.  Trust me, it isn’t Christmas in our home unless I start preparing my Martha Stewart Eggnog the day after Thanksgiving and I don’t make Pain aux Raisins without her pastry cream recipe.  So, if you’re reading this and think I’m a “hater”—think again.

Martha Stewart's 9 Booziest Tips For Getting Drunk On Eggnog | HuffPost Life

Regular Martha from a few years back. HEY! She looks older there than now. And don’t scrimp on the booze in the Martha Stewart Eggnog!

Martha stewart eggnog booze | Atypical 60

Here’s a photo from one of my old blog posts in which I make Martha Stewart Eggnog.  After three cups of this, EVERYONE begins to look younger!!

For those who refuse to believe that photo editing of any kind was used on Ms. Stewart, I would say to get to your ophthalmologist and check for cataracts or go into therapy for your delusional thoughts because girlfriend’s been edited—and heavily!

Of Cataracts and Proaging Eye Care! | Atypical 60

Yeah. Keep looking at Martha through an eye patch and get yer eyes checked!

My favorite comeback to this whole Martha thing is an Instagram post from @isthattomhearn who portrays my beloved Ina Garten in the funniest and most loving way. It’s his rendition of Ina on the cover. Tom gets it.

Tom’s Ina is filtered!  But I swear you HAVE to follow him on Instagram. His impersonations of Ina are fabulous..and he does Martha too!

So, what are your thoughts on this? I’m really interested to know…

And let me know which ME you prefer. Real me or fake me!

About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
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39 Responses to Soft Ageism—It’s a Thing. Thanks to Sports Illustrated and Martha Stewart

  1. I thought Martha looked beautiful but I’m not stupid to think this was not photoshopped but all i can say is You Go Girl. I’m 72 and don’t think they will be asking me to do this. LOL

  2. neatmessy says:

    Definitely prefer the real you! You’re adorable – and your spunky personality adds to your charm!
    I totally agree with you on the Martha thing and ageism in our culture.

  3. KB says:

    A-fricken-MEN! I have less respect for “Martha” than ever for even agreeing to this nonsense.

    • Catherine says:

      KB. I’m pretty sure Martha has a nuance of narcissist personality about her. I honestly feel that SI sucks for this–even when they photoshop the younger models. It’s sexist. I wonder what MS thinks of any old man getting his “jollies” to her pics! LOL

  4. J says:

    The Martha “thing” is a double-edged sword–good that SI put an 81 year old woman on the cover, but not good that they photo shopped her to perfection. Helen Mirren is a good example of a woman who is comfortable in her own skin. She is an acclaimed actress, clearly works out and does not compromise on her looks. In fact, she seems to relish her face and its aging beauty. I would like to see Helen on the front of SI.

    • Catherine says:

      J. I love you for this! I was actually thinking that Helen Mirren would have been a PERFECT woman to feature for the same reasons you just wrote!
      This double-edged sword is really a crappy thing because unless you are in the midst of the ageing process as we are, you don’t get it. XOXOXOX

      • J says:

        Thank you, Cathy. I am 76 and have never had any fillers, work, etc. and don’t think I ever will. I’ve earned my lines and I think an aging face is infinitely more interesting plus showing confidence in who you are. Recently, I flew across country and was thrilled that being over 75 now allows you to keep on your shoes and jacket. Going and coming TSA asked me to remove my jacket. I informed them of my age and in both instances they questioned my being over 75–that made me feel good, especially knowing that my looks are authentic. I was wearing pale pink—a universally flattering shade for women!🌸

  5. Lynn says:

    I was surprised SI would use an 81 year old woman, but, of course, it’s Martha. She has an arrogant makeup video on YouTube with fillers and inflated lips and who knows what else. Hair extensions, a makeup expert and every photo filter available created this photo – although someone commented she can see her stomach resting on her thighs! I’m with the woman who championed Helen Mirren who has chosen to age naturally.

  6. jlhgardens says:

    Love this!! Could not agree with you more!!! It’s all so ridiculous on every level. YES, it’s great that MS is on the cover, but the images do not show a true rendition of the average 81-year-old. Even without PhotoShop, MS has still had a privileged life and likely spent thousands on fillers, botox, radio frequency and microdermabrasion. It’s unrealistic to consider her a true peer of any mature woman in her 70s or 80s. I too dislike the younger women touting products for mature hair/skin/bodies. It’s insulting and denigrating. Bravo for speaking out about it.

    • Catherine says:

      Thank you and I’ll always speak out about that unfairness to women who are older. We buy the clothing. Why Talbots thinks a younger model will help. I don’t see anyone under 30 wearing the brand anyway. Play to your consumer. SI is playing mostly to a bunch of sports fans who equate women as things–and that’s not a good thing!

  7. A says:

    Had to jump in here to say, “we’ve come a long way baby!”
    Airbrushing and photoshop have been used for a long time. No one really wants to see reality on a magazine cover or in a swimsuit layout. They photoshop the young ones too! We have to take small steps towards progress and support those brave enough to put themselves out there to combat ageism. Whether photoshopped or not, it’s a big deal to see an 81 year old on the front cover of Sports Illustrated. It’s inspiring to the younger women. It’s mostly the older women who are complaining that she doesn’t look real enough. I’m old and proud of my wrinkles, but I prefer to stand in a softer light when photographed. Everyone wants to look better in photos.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi A. I get what you’re saying about coming a long way. But WHY don’t people want to see reality on a magazine cover or swimsuit layout. It’s because we, as Americans, have been conditioned to be afraid and abhor the looks of someone who has aged. We all love flattering photos of ourselves but for me, there’s a caveat. I’ll go for good lighting but that’s it. I don’t want filters or photoshop. I want others to see me at my (their opinion not mine) ugliest. My wrinkles. My scars. My fat and my age spots. Especially when I’m doing wig reviews. Why would I filter and photoshop myself when a woman my age who needs to wear a wig sees me not as I am? It’s false advertising. It’s sad that people don’t want to see reality. But that’s my opinion and that’s what adds to the conversation! Thanks so much for your comment–it’s greatly appreciated!

    • Christine G says:

      Totally agree with you about the long standing use of photoshop and airbrushing. I worked at a swimsuit and lingerie company in the early 70s and watched the designer draw lines on proofs to show where they wanted the young models bodies to be “enhanced”. I’m fine with Martha being treated the same way; if she hadn’t been people would have shouted “foul” as it would be unfair to her.

      The same applied to the male models back then, so I don’t agree that people would think that it would be brave of a man to appear unfiltered in a magazine spread. Just my opinion.

      I’m having to come to terms with looking my age since I’ve embraced my silver locks. I’m 72, and prepandemic, with my lustrous brunette hair, I was told I looked no older than 50. Sigh, those days are past. Oh well, time marches on!! At least I’m not questioned if I ask for senior discounts!

      • Catherine says:

        Hi Chris, and I definitely see your point. Retouching a bit is a lot different than what we have these days. Young women and men are filtering themselves to the point their noses disappear. LOL. I always ask for the Senior discount!

  8. I am so with you!!! I did not jump with joy for her being featured. Any of us with professional makeup artist, hairdressers, wigs, fabric, lighting etc. Could be featured. So what does it mean? Nothing.Helen Mirren, yes. Actually you look darn good in your two piece. Me? No. But then again I don’t want to be featured in a swimsuit edition. I’m OK with that. But maybe it’s a good thing that they’re even thinking about it. I also agree about the Talbot ad. I do think things are maybe inching. Maybe. You’re the best just the way you are.Shows you how beautiful a wonky eye and wigs can look. YOu’re dyamite.

    • Catherine says:

      Thanks Sandy. I never try to hide my eye or the fact my hair is fake. Everything else is real. It’s not a good thing to hide age. At all. And it runs rampant in this country. When I’m in France–especially during the summer, old women are topless, heavier women are in string bikinis and old women just don’t care what others think. It’s a beautiful thing to witness women happy with the ageing process!

  9. Eleanor Ford says:

    Great article! You aren’t being a hater!

  10. Bonnie says:

    CATHERINE, When I saw what you were writing about, I knew we were in for a treat. You did not disappoint, as you always get to the heart of the matter without any BS. That said, I have felt exactly the way you’ve put your feelings to paper. Martha has said she’s done to her face, exactly what Sandra Sallin just mentioned. Good for her. She has the money to do so. And since she’s in front of the camera, it’s probably a fine idea to keep up appearances. For me, Sandra could be our model for how to look good after 80. She shows her age, wears it well, and has a sparkle that says I’m still in the game. I’ve followed Sandra for many years and appreciate her Joie de vive. Anyway, SI didn’t do most of us over 50’s any favors with this cover. I hope they don’t dislocate their shoulders patting themselves on the back.

    • Catherine says:

      Bonnie. Hi! Sandy’s videos and posts are the greatest. And look how beautiful she is without all that work done. I do agree that there is an essence of arrogance with Martha. Even the way she explains her recipes is condescending–but she has great baking recipes. I should have placed the Ana Gasteyer photo from SNL of her Topless Martha skits. They were a riot. In all honesty, I have a huge issue with the way ageism is rampant and how we try to hide the ageing process. For crissakes, you age the second you enter the world!

  11. Ann R says:

    Vogue Philippines did it better. The April 2023 issue featured 105 year old tattooist Apo Whang Od wrinkles and all, check that out! Photo shot and fillers are sad. My mom will be 98 in a few months and I love see her face with all her life experiences.

  12. Liz says:

    Yeah I think it’s a step in the right direction for America, seeing as SI wouldn’t have had an older woman on the cover 20 years ago, let alone probably five. America
    is the shallowest country, period. I think it’s one step in the right direction. Will take another ten years (maybe?) to get it with the wrinkles. I think of National Geographic and how they portray the beauty of older people in countries all over the world. It is really just about perception; and America’s current perception is sadly, filtered.

  13. Maryanne says:

    The Photoshop doesn’t bother me as much as the plastic surgery, if I may be honest.
    Retouching has been around for as long as I can remember. I worked at magazines and even young people were retouched. That’s show biz — and I like it!
    I remember when they had those photography places in the mall where you can get a more glamorous photo of yourself. You could be in your 20s and they’d still offer you a makeover to accompany your photo.
    But the plastic surgery thing is just a strange concept. You don’t really look younger, you just look fake. I normally don’t say things like this because it sounds like judging and we should all be able to do what we want, but that’s my little opinion from a visual perspective.
    However, hot looking 81 year olds DO exist.
    One time I went to see a performance at a library and this woman was 82 (coincidentally she kind of looked like Martha Stewart). She had on short shorts and was dancing up a storm. I thought to myself, “Wow, that woman is sexy.” I wouldn’t had known she was 82, but she was telling everyone. She had no surgery either. She just wore her wrinkles with FUN! 🙂

    • Martha says she has never had plastic surgery. I believe her. She says “no knife”. I believe her. She may have had other “help” which she does not deny; nor explain. I admire and appreciate her looks at 81. I appreciate even more her accomplishments. She catapulted women into all kinds of admirable jobs, even made some up! I think she has been one of the biggest positive influences for women in the last century. She is a star in my book, looks beautiful, and BRAVO for her being on the cover of Sports Illustrated! Sports Illustrated has come a long way! Bravo to them, too!!!

      • Catherine says:

        Hi Penelope. Yes. Retouching has been around a long, long time and even long ago, it wasn’t all that honest. In Europe ads now have to include that the model has been “enhanced” something you’ll never see here in the States. And if you don’t believe Stewart has been under the knife, that’s your belief. I, don’t believe her. But that doesn’t take away that her eggnog recipe is the best on earth.

        I don’t believe she “capulated” women into all sorts of admirable jobs. I would think an attorney or doctor would be more admirable. However, she had the smarts to work on her talent as a caterer and cook/baker. There are other women that I believe were bigger influences for women–such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Michelle Obama and Judy Blume–but to each their own. Thank you for commenting and it is nice to hear from a Martha Stewart stan.

  14. Bobbie says:

    I agree with you 💯 on everything you said. I’m 67 and to be honest somedays it’s hard to embrace the wrinkles, saggy skin and all that you so beautifully described. When I saw the picture of Martha I truly just felt a little sad. Sad that society primarily embraces youth as the measurement of beauty. I had a discussion with one of my 40yr old daughters recently about her good friends who are now getting lip fillers and Botox because they think they are looking old.(insert eye roll) This is what we are telling next generations that beauty is? My overall feeling is we live in a culture that doesn’t value our elders. The wisdom, experience and knowledge that comes with age is not important compared to plump lips, no wrinkles, flat tummy’s and perky boobs. I think this became most obvious to me during Covid when I saw countless statements like “this virus is no big deal and only kills “old people”. Meaning if you’re over 60 your life has little value, so no big deal. Personally I’m disappointed in Martha. She could have made such a strong statement to our culture that there is beauty in the reality of aging.

    • Catherine says:

      Bobbie. EVERYTHING YOU SAID. My own daughter is 32 and she has already told me after she finishes breastfeeding present baby, she’s getting Botox on her forehead. She doesn’t need it but all of her friends do it and it’s just become a mainstay.
      Two years ago I had lip fillers–my lips are big to begin with and nobody could tell I had them done. One of my sisters laughed because she said there was no difference. Live and learn. They were right. I couldn’t tell either.
      TBH, there are days I wish I didn’t have a saggy chin or jowls but that’s ageing. Don’t even get me started on the statements made about old people and Covid. Only idiots would say shit like that.
      I grew up RESPECTING my elders–sadly, things aren’t like that anymore!

  15. Momcat says:

    I think this ‘faking’ old thing is very North American. We watch a lot of British & European TV shows and older actors( male & female) are never ‘prettied up’ or soft focused. They are who they are. Wrinkles, fluff and all.
    At 68 I have a twenty-six yr old son. Upon viewing Ms Stewart he commented ‘ freak show’! He’s one of the most nonjudgemental people I know so I asked him to explain his comment. He said “If they wanted to showcase an 81yr old woman then get a ‘real’ 81 yr old woman. Martha has been Botoxed, surgically enhanced and photo shopped so much she just doesn’t truly represent most 81 yr old women so what’s the point. Might as well stick a Kardashian on the cover.” Millennials tell it like it is.
    Cathe I love you freckles, wrinkles, bio hair wonky eye and all! You are unapologetically you! Best of all…no filters!
    About younger models modelling ‘old’. When I was young I had a friend who was a child model. There was an ad in a national magazine featuring my 13yr old friend modeling bras, not ‘training’ bras either.. I showed the ad to my grandmother who commented that it was strange that a 13yr old girl was modelling bras meant for older women. She then opined ‘ I guess they didn’t use older models because they don”t want any wrinkles to show’. My friend said that was true. Most of the young women doing print modelling for under garments were in their teens and had to have their moms present at the shoot! There’s a long history of passing off the wrinkle free for the ‘old and decrepit’ 😢

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Al, it IS very North American. We watch the French Channel and other French TV shows as well as BBC shows. Everyone looks their age! Your son is correct–it IS a freak show. Personally, had Stewart been on display with her ripples and wrinkles, I would have a tremendous amount of respect for her. She’s merely another excuse for being ashamed of her ageing body!

  16. juliet says:

    I feel sad when women get airbrushed/photoshopped and gussied up like that – it says how far we need to go in terms of acceptance for who we are. All our lives, females are told “be nice”, “be sweet”, “be charming”, “be clever, but not too clever”, “be good at domestic stuff”, “be self effacing..”, “be pleasant and agreeable”…. and still at Martha Stewarts age, its STILL not enough – oh so she is a little older than the editors want, no probs – lets fix that, lets CHANGE it to something not Martha and more that some complete stranger wants. That is appalling – its outrageous, we should be furious – why do we need to be pumped up and vamped up to look alluring, surely we have earnt the right to look just like we are and feel good for ourselves? Atrocious

  17. Marsha says:

    Love all your thoughts and agree completely. I, too, have heard women over 50 or 60 say how wonderful the SI photos of Martha are, and when I point out how very fake they are, they have acted like I am somehow letting down old woman sisterhoood.

  18. Margaret says:

    Love this post! I agree with everything you said but I do think Martha looks ridiculous, only because we all know what she really looks like. And the Boomer Bullies need to put their money where their mouths are because aren’t a lot of their parents still paying their bills?? Shame on them!

  19. Margaret says:

    And I like the real you pic better because it reveals your integrity, which I think is the most attractive quality one can possess. You go girl!

  20. anniebridgie says:

    Cathe, I agree will all you say. I prefer you, unfiltered and unafraid! 😍 You write “if I had her money, I would have that saggy chin lifted too” I don’t think so, you are so happy in your own skin, and it makes us happy enlightenment to us all..keep up the great work! 🌺🌻⚘

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