Miriam Margolyes, Martha Stewart and the wildly different reactions to their semi-nude photo shoots.

When 81-year-old Martha Stewart bared (almost) all for the cover of Sports Illustrated in May, the public went crazy over just how “incredible” she looked, with her flawless figure and perfectly smooth face.

“Wow, so gorgeous!”

“Bravo, Martha!”

“You are my hero.”

“I wish I could look that good when I get to her age!”

“You’re an inspiration to so many women.”

“She looks better than most women half her age!”

In an array of images shot in the Dominican Republic earlier this year, the chef-turned-business mogul posed seductively in a range of revealing swimsuits. And from her poses lying sprawled across a daybed with tousled sex hair, to emerging from the water with lips pouted, the octogenarian could not have looked further from her eight decades.

Watch: Christie Brinkley is on the cover of Sports Illustrated. At 63 years of age. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

But while social media erupted in applause for the shoot, there was a line of public opinion that left me stumped.

That Martha, who had three months to prepare for the photoshoot (and by prepare I mean ramp up her pilates practice and ban any bread or pasta from entering her body), was “brave” for stripping down.

(And I haven't even mentioned the potential anti-wrinkle injections or, you know, grade-A Sports Illustrated airbrushing that probably came into play.)

So the idea that someone who, let’s be honest, has access to every single privilege that money can buy, should be celebrated to the point of being hailed a “hero” absolutely baffles me.


But anyway, we must move forward because now ANOTHER OCTOGENARIAN (yes, Hollywood, there are quite a few of them!) has gone one step further and removed ALL OF HER CLOTHES for the cover of British Vogue.

And it’s none other than the very fabulous, very funny Miriam Margolyes. As a veteran of the stage and screen, the award-winning actress is not known for holding back — from farting in her Vogue interview to publicly discussing who she’s had sex with. 

But for a woman who speaks openly about the fact she’s made multiple sex tapes, the 82-year-old’s cheeky cover photo garnered an entirely different reaction from the public. 

Because she’s still seen as the ‘funny girl’.

Naked (at least from the top up), the actress – who’s picked up an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for her work – posed in front of a giant pile of iced buns, creatively positioned so that two bright red cherries appeared in precisely the location of her nipples. She wears nothing but the wide grin for which she’s become known, and crooks a finger at the camera, as if to say, ‘Who’s been naughty?’


But despite her nudity, Miriam hasn’t been celebrated for her sexy figure or “looking good at any age”; nor was she hailed a “hero” or labelled “brave” for going the full Monty  — despite the fact that she has a head full of greys and the face of a life well lived.

Which is frankly ridiculous to me because if anyone is brave enough to go nude on the front of a magazine OWNING every bit of their age, wobbly bits and wrinkles and all, it’s that person. It’s Miriam. 


Yet here we are. 

“What a lovely pair of buns.”

“Awesome pastries.”

“Bloody brilliant.” 

“Absolute legend.”

“The epitome of ‘get old, not boring.’”

What was said in the interviews?

After Martha caused a worldwide storm by ‘daring’ to drop down to a swimsuit to become the oldest cover star for Sports Illustrated, the 81-year-old was interviewed by The New York Times – and faced with some hard-hitting questions.

Did it take a lot of prep work? 

Were there physical challenges during the shoot? 

How do you come by the sexual confidence to pull off a move like this?

Now let’s compare those to Miriam’s Vogue interview, which went exactly how you would expect an interview to go with an 82-year-old woman who doesn’t fit the utterly unrealistic beauty expectations set by Martha.

Her appearance, we’re told, is still a source of discomfort. “I hate my body,” Maygolyes said. 

“I have big tits [and I have] a drooping belly, little twisted legs. I’m not thrilled with that. But you just make the best of it. You have to. You do the best you can.” 


Listen to the hosts of Mamamia Out Loud discuss what an 81-year-old in a swimsuit on magazine cover tells us about beauty, money and marketing. Post continues after podcast.

Until you can’t. Because another subject this interview touches on is the apparent cloud hanging over Miriam’s head: death. 

“When you’re young, you never think about death, you just think about your next f**k, basically,” she said. 

“I think about death a lot. Every morning when I get up I think, ‘Hmmm, another day’, which maybe I wasn’t expecting.”

And it’s upon that note the interview ends. Frickin’ death. Not 82 years of a kick-arse existence with a multitude of roles under her belt. Including GOING NUDE on the cover of Vogue.

“You can’t help but be aware that the amount of time ahead is less than the time before you,” she added. “I’m very conscious that there is no light at the end of the tunnel.” 

I wonder if Martha feels the same way? But I guess we'll never know, because she sure as heck wasn’t asked about that.

Image: Vogue + Sports Illustrated.

Do you struggle with skincare concerns like dry skin, acne, or fine lines? Complete this survey now to go in the running to win a $50 gift voucher!