At 81-years-old, Martha Stewart has become the oldest model to be featured on the cover of a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition—and she’s not holding back.
Stewart, who appears on the magazine cover in a low-cut white bathing suit and orange wrap, models a selection of different swimsuits in the magazine spread. The 81 year old joins this year’s cohort of magazine cover models, who so far, include Megan Fox, Kim Petras and Brooks Nader.
In an interview with PEOPLE, the cover star describes the photoshoot as “meaningful.”
“It should have been 30 years ago,” Stewart told the outlet. “That would have been great. It was not a goal I set for myself, but once asked, I thought to myself, let’s do it!”
“It’s important to stand up to challenges, whether they’re beauty challenges or intellectual challenges, even philanthropic challenges,” she shares. “To be able to stand up and do it—to me—is so fun! And this is accomplishing something that not everybody would accomplish.”
When it came to selecting the right swimsuits for the suit, Stewart said she had to “throw modesty out the window.”
“I tried on all the bathing suits and outfits the night before the shoot, and there were so many things to try on,” Stewart told PEOPLE. “You have to throw modesty out the window because they’re prodding you and pulling and straightening—so I had to grin and bear it.”
Stewart’s strikingly youthful appearance has long caught the attention of fans but the lifestyle has admitted she upped her usual skincare and wellness routine to prepare for the shoot.
“I did Pilates three, maybe four times a week and did not have a drink—no alcohol whatsoever for two months,” she told PEOPLE. Stewart also revealed she continued to get regular facials and was extra careful about what she put in and on her body.
“I also got a spray tan a couple days before the shoot, which isn’t something I usually do,” Stewart reveals. “It’s nice when you’re down in that azure water. I got a light tan, and it was very pretty, very natural. I’m very pleased with the pictures, I really am.”
You can see all of Stewart’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue photos on the magazine’s website.