The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue has become one of the most popular and iconic magazine issues in the world. It is dedicated to featuring photographs of fashion models, celebrities, and athletes wearing swimwear in exotic locations such as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. The first Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue was published in 1964 and since then some of the most famous women to be featured in the swimsuit issues are Christie Brinkley, Elle Macpherson, Kathy Ireland, Serena Williams, Beyoncé, and Tyra Banks. Over the years, the issue faced some controversies regarding the objectification of women and its impact on body image. However, Sports Illustrated also made efforts to diversify the models by including more body types and ethnicities. In 2020, Sports Illustrated featured its first-ever transgender model, Valentina Sampaio, in the Swimsuit Issue, marking a significant milestone for inclusivity.
The swimsuit issue has predominately been a coveted issue for men, but what got my attention was the fact that the 2023 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit featured Martha Stewart, the popular American businesswoman, television personality, and author on one of the four prestige covers they offered. What makes the selection of Martha Stewart so special is that not only is she the first woman over the age of 80 selected, but it also highlights her remarkable comeback by reimagining her personal brand. In 2001 Martha Stewart was involved in a high-profile legal case that ultimately led in 2004 to receiving a five-month prison sentence in a minimum-security facility commonly referred to as Camp Cupcake, followed by two years of probation. Her name is her brand. In re-establishing her brand to the public, she has associated herself with other influencers such as Snoop Dogg. To her credit, she understands exactly what she is doing and who she is aligning herself with. Ms. Stewart refuses to let circumstances determine the outcome of the life she wants to live. She is moving forward and not looking back.
I have a lot of admiration for Martha Stewart. Years ago, when I had an opportunity of visiting the Hamptons, one of the stops I wanted to make was visiting her store. When I was younger as a wife and mother that liked to entertain, I enjoyed reading some of her tips on how to decorate a home, present a nice table for dinner, or add a special touch to just about anything you wanted to do. As I matured in my career, I also liked the example she represented of sharing one point or idea across using various platforms. As a writer, and at one time I had a cable talk show, I replicated her style in some of my presentations. Today, I even understand the importance of rebranding or keeping your brand fresh and relative.
Although I think Ms. Stewart has done some good things during her career, and congratulations to her for being the first octogenarian to be featured on Sports Illustrated Magazine, this accomplishment and recognition alone does not set the standard of who we should look up to, and consider the standard for our lives. It is important that we are clear on what our core values and standards should be on how we live our own lives before we instantly put other people on pedestals. We all like having people to look up to. It can help us on our journey, but just be careful who you choose to be the standard for your life. Look behind the curtain in their life first. Check and see if they are living a life that is in alignment with what you believe and stand for. When you are not sure, a good place to start could be right in your own family and community. People you can touch and that will take time to speak with you and hold your hand along your journey. Just a thought. My role model has always been my grandmother. #rolemodels
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