Martha Stewart at age 81 poses in scrupulous déshabillé for Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition, and her legions of fans applaud.
“Crafting, gardening, cooking, modeling, restaurant owner.…What can’t Martha do? Unstoppable,” one fan wrote on Instagram. “An icon,” another said.”
Yes, her ego is unstoppable and really tiresome. For years now she has set herself to rule over American middle-class lifestyle choices—in fashion, furnishing, gardening, cookware, accessories, recipes and gourmet food. She sells not just items but her taste as an arbiter of style for the good life.
After a slight interruption to serve a short jail term (for securities fraud and insider trading), Martha took on business ventures (see below) and a social media presence. Now she takes off her clothes to prove, I guess, that you’re as young as you feel. She took posing as a challenge, she says, which she met and found it “kind of fun . . . a testament to good living.” It seems, rather, to be a testament to making more money.
Sure, she looks good for an 81-year-old. I look pretty good too for my age yet would never display myself as some kind of physical paragon triumphing over the trials of aging. And how many older women would do that? On aging she says, “I think all of us should think about good living, successfully living, and not aging. The whole aging thing is so boring. You know what I mean?”
For me, entering the world of aging was like entering a new life. For her, it must be an unwelcome continuation of the old, fighting off the degeneration of body and mind. She wants to show how she can beat the devil.
The best story on Martha happened in her new Paris-in-Las Vegas restaurant, as reported here. She is involved in a licensing partnership with Caesars Entertainment “where Ms. Stewart helms the restaurant’s concept from design and décor to food and beverage recipes.” In this Martha-themed restaurant called Bedford, a roast chicken served lukewarm costs $89.95 and lukewarm baked potatoes cost $15.95 each.
“If you order a baked potato, one will be presented by a server, raised high in the air and brought down with a resounding thud on the surface of a tableside potato cart.” So the food is presented with phony showmanship at an exorbitant price. The writer wonders whether Martha serves potatoes this way at her house.
The Bedford seems like another attempt to sell good taste to the yahoos, and yet it turns out to be a venture in kitsch. Her media company at one point was worth over $1 billion but the Bedford cooks “work, not for her, but for Caesars Entertainment.” That arrangement puts a rather big dent in Martha’s reputation for competence.
And she’s never going to compete with the sexy young women who used to populate the Swimsuit Edition.