It's ageism masquerading as age inclusivity.
You really verbalized and laid out all my feelings about this. Your headline was really my initial reaction to seeing the pictures- like this cover really doesn’t mean anything to me and it’s not empowering or groundbreaking to me. I loved your alternate Octogenarian headline😂
Thank you for this. As menopause descends fast and hard the internalized fatphobia and patriarchy is giving me a run for my money. I need folks who call bullshit so clearly and forcefully to push back inside my own head.
The whole scenario feels like an Onion or Reductress headline: Conventionally attractive woman wears swimsuit, magazine feels like it really “did something”
Your last comment though...
Thank you for addressing this. My mother is also 81, but she has literally lost her mind due to a life time of starving herself to be the thinest one at the table. Now my father, brother and I have to clean up that mess.
She is one that used to do all the things to remain healthy and beautiful, matter of fact, the wanders the halls of her house when we do not take her out for a walk because she feels lazy.
The only thing left in her mind is beauty culture. It is so sad.
I am not saying this to garner sympathy, I am posting here to be a warning sign- beauty culture is deadly.
If it does not kill you fast, it will kill you slow, and leave those who love you watching.
This is why covers like Martha's are dangerous. Because it trains all of our eyes and attention on the wrong message. We are talking about her rather than anything else.
Time and attention are currency. We ought not waist them on Martha Stewart's tush.
My hands hurt from the applause I rain down upon your erudite responses to said comments. The fact that all these people assume you’re angry is yet another explicit definition of how society pigeon holes any woman who expresses an opinion counter to the Status Quo, or speaks truth to power against our complicit behavior in support of the Patriarchal system in which we all live.
Thank you, Jessica. My best friend died last month after a blood clot in her lung stopped her heart. It was probably a result of the laser lipo she had the day before. Or maybe not, who knows...Her grandmother sounds like the 100 year old gal - 5 face lifts, constant dieting. Aside from the collective oppression, this mindset has real life consequences. The world lost a beautiful soul because she was worried about staying fuckable...
This is such a fucking bummer. I don't have a ton of sympathy for her, but it's probably the biggest bummer for Martha Stewart. She's EIGHTY and she's still not allowed to just relax and exist in her body. There's something in aligning with power that makes you more vulnerable to the aesthetics that power demands. I can't quite express what I'm thinking. Like, she's hideously rich, has an empire, and she still needs to do this, for public image or for self image or for some probably very messy combination of the two. Aligning with capitalist power, even if it is your own, really just means you can never ever rest. Especially as a woman, but probably also as a dude. Break out! Free yourself, my little moguls! Get old, eat ice cream, give away your money, take the bus! Be freeeeeee!
These kinds of lazy takes are the reason I am not on social media anymore. It seems like the Notes system is encouraging Twitter-like comments? Most of them show that the commenter didn't read the piece carefully (or at all) and are just firing off their first reaction because there's no cost to doing so. These are never the people most interested in the topic, or who have the most expertise in it. Points that would actually advance discussion get shouted down precisely because they are new, challenging perspectives.
Thank you for your work, Jessica. To me these images of Martha Stewart look totally disempowering, for what it's worth!
Your insight and ability to lay them out so clearly never fails to thrill me. Thank you for expressing the rot that is beauty culture and all the isms it embraces.
Thank you for this post. As a 69 yr old I have struggled all week on the SI Martha Stewart pictures as an example of what? I continue to look for representations of women without fillers, filters and in focus. It’s hard
I'm also finding that all of the "ageism sucks" type of Instagram posts feature slim and skinny people. I've been conditioned to believe that you can have grey hair and wrinkles if you're skinny because you'll at least look elegant. I stopped dying my hair more than a year ago but finally said to myself, Jo, you can be two out of three of these - old, fat and grey - but not all three at once. I dieted for decades and refuse to do that again. I can't do anything about aging. So I dyed my hair. The struggle not to conform is fucking real.
Yes 👏🏻 yes 👏🏻 yes 👏🏻 !!
I saw this cover and I thought, good for her, but what about all the airbrushing, and wild privilege that makes it possible for her to look this way? Not groundbreaking at all for any of us normal aging people.
As I navigate my mid-40s, perimenopausal body shifting and slow growing invisibility, it’s exhausting to hear the message that I should just go grey! When I don’t have the face of a 20 year old that would make it socially acceptable for me to do so.
If I “let myself go” as it were, I would be more invisible, more ignorable, and more unfuckable than ever. And while I don’t care about society’s general opinion about me, I do recognize that to opt out, I set myself up for permanent isolation. As an “unemployed “ SAHM, I know that I am quickly becoming useless by societies standards, because in order to be taken seriously, I need to first be seen as willing to opt in to the striving for the youthful potential that I can’t ever reach.
Anyway, thank you for putting into words all the ways that this is not groundbreaking at all.
I had a long talk with a friend in her early 60s about this the other night and why it wasn't empowering for women or something to necessarily cheer for (you were quoted more than once, Jessica)...then pointed her to the Philippines Vogue cover of Apo Whang-Od. I can't even be convinced that Martha is celebrating how she feels about herself, but asking others to, and there's a huge difference in that. I'm sure her ego is epic, but that doesn't make for a happy, content, confident person. It's emptiness, IMO. I get the same vibe from JLo: Notice me! Tell me how amazing I am! The images convey the opposite of the presumed intent, at least to me. And it's hard to shed what was pounded into us from such young ages. But we have to keep questioning. Thanks for pushing the conversation, Jessica. xo
Your work gives me so much joy! I feel my brain heal a little every time I read one of your posts.
“What a lovely memory of a woman who internalized systemic ageism in such a way that she felt the need to lie about her age to the end <3”
Holy sh*t! I laughed so hard I nearly slid out of my chair. All the snaps to you, Jessica! Which on my end isn’t a lot because I can only snap with my right hand…
Seriously, though..that is what she’s idolized for? Not, she was so kind, so funny, supportive, etc.
I’m probably reaching a lot her, but jeez!
I love your attitude and your message. But as a 62 year old woman, I would also like to lend my perspective. There is absolutely no question that ageism is alive and well -- not just in the U.S., but across the globe. But as someone who is older and has been fighting against the tropes that are consistently attached to aging women, I did not have the same visceral reaction. Rather, I appreciated that Martha was celebrating herself and putting it out there for the world to see. Regardless if she's had work done or is privileged AF, she is celebrating how she feels about herself and I don't personally find anything wrong with that. If she had appeared on a different cover, say on Vanity Fair or The New Yorker, would we be as pissed off about it? One thing I've learned is that I don't give AF about what other women do or don't do when it comes to their appearance and often, neither do they; we are already become invisible to most of society. In my opinion, the issue starts and ends with a relatively poor point of view about older people, period. We don't value older people in our society. We don't appreciate their wisdom enough, and we often don't even realize how meaningful they are until they are gone. So, as one of those invisible, older women, I say - if it makes you feel good, do it.