I Still Hate Martha Stewart

My friend Sherry, who knows how much I loathe Martha Stewart, gave me the latest copy of Martha Stewart Living for my birthday.  It’s the holiday edition.

There Martha is, out of her prison stripes and into something white and diaphanous, beaming beatifically from the cover.  She’s shyly clutching some kind of artfully decorated gingerbread town, welcoming you — all of us! — to her perfect world.

“I admire Martha,” Sherry always says.  “She’s a smart businesswoman.  She’s made a fortune.  I think we should all admire her.”

I disagree.  Totally.  I don’t hate many people, but I do hate Martha Stewart.  I’ve heartily disliked her for years — long before anybody else disliked her, I like to think.  I discovered her one afternoon in the 1990s, when my teenage daughter and I were, for some reason, watching Oprah.  Oprah was introducing Martha and Martha was surrounded by a bevy of clones who worshiped her and aspired to live the “Martha lifestyle.”  They, too, wanted to be gorgeous and effortless and perfect, doyennes of the house beautiful and the family extremely picturesque.

And my daughter and I?  We were transfixed, watching this trashy TV show from an unmade bed.  “What’s the Martha lifestyle?” my daughter asked.

I had no idea.  I spent my days writing and getting rejected and writing some more and driving carpools and battling our little roach infestation problem and wondering whether I should wear a bag over my head since I needed a haircut so badly and hoping the child protective services wouldn’t be showing up soon since we’d eaten lentil soup four nights in a row and the kids were in a state of mutiny.  Some nights, when my husband was out of town and my low standards plummeted even further, I talked the kids into walking to Steve’s Ice Cream down the street, where we could get large ice creams with mixed-in cookies and call it dinner.  “Won’t that be fun?” I always asked.

But Martha.  She was always whipping up something tasty and nutritious and attractive and she never lost her megawatt smile or her ex-model’s posture or her steely discipline.  Would Martha have descended to the low points where I made my life?  No way.

Every year, it seemed, one or both of our kids dragged home a request from their grade school.  “We’re putting together a school cookbook!” it read.  “Share your family’s favorite recipe!”

I didn’t have any favorite recipes.  I hated to cook.  So I usually composed something breezy like, “Go to store.  Buy frozen cookie dough.  Pre-heat the oven and don’t burn!”

Or Travel Bear.  Martha would have gone everywhere with Travel Bear, the little woebegone stuffed creature my son’s third-grade class sent home when a parent was taking a trip.  The Good Parents (like Martha) wrote long, news missives about where Travel Bear had been and the important people he’d met and the sights he’d seen.

And us?  We honestly tried.  When we were taking the one and only ski trip of our family’s life, we hauled Travel Bear along.  Unfortunately, when we got to the airport parking terminal, we had too many bags and too few hands.  So we had to leave Travel Bear in the trunk of the car.  Sure, my husband and I tried to make up for it.  We wrote long, poignant entries about how dark it was for Travel Bear in the car trunk, and how cold.  But we had the feeling the third-grade teacher never appreciated our empathy and literary license.  (Although, I have to say, we weren’t nearly as remiss as another student’s father, who took Travel Bear to a medical convention and photographed him in very compromising positions involving lit cigarettes and empty bottles of Scotch.)

But back to Martha.  I think my dislike of her goes back to high school, sad as that is.  Doesn’t everything go back to high school, eventually?  Martha was the cheerleader, the pep-squad leader, the class president, the style avatar, the girl whose hair flipped perfectly and whose calendar bulged with dates and activities.  I bet she even drove her own sports car.  And me?  I was in the band.  My hair never flipped for more than 35 seconds and I drove my father’s ’57 Plymouth with the passenger door that flew open and the view of the street through the small hole in the floor.  I was shy and gawky and, even when I tried, something was always wrong.  A hem drooped, a bra strap showed, mascara smeared.

“Don’t you hate women who are perfect?”  I asked my friend Joleen once, years ago.  She and I were walking into the building where we worked.

“They’re awful,” Joleen agreed.  “Nothing every goes wrong with them.”  Stepping into the building, her heel picked up a carpet thread that was about 18 inches long.  We walked along and she pulled the thread behind her every time she took a step — a scene that would never make it into fiction because it was too perfect and improbable.  Just like Martha herself.  

(Copyright 2007 by Ruth Pennebaker)

22 comments… add one
  • leon lemke Link

    Take a hike! I love Martha.

  • Sorry, but I wrote a bitchy story about my breakfast with a bitchy Martha in the 1980s. I hated her first.
    The first thing I said to her was, “When I look at your books I feel so inadequate.”
    She sniffed and said, “You should do some of the things and then you wouldn’t have to feel inadequate.”
    The gloves were off.
    Although I admire her as much as I hate her.

  • Daniel Link

    I’ve always admired Martha Stewart.

    She has a tireless work ethic, and managed to take something she loves and make it profitable.

    She certianly wasn’t wealthy growing up, worked hard for everything she has ever had, and of course she has had her low points (Divorce, jail..)

    No one is perfect.

  • Marie Link

    There are things about Martha that I love, and there are things about her that I hate. Back in the days when I first started watching her on tv, she inspired me to be the best that I could be. On the other hand, she seemed very stiff, and unrelenting. She was too serious about what she was doing at the time, and she couldn’t stand any interruptions. I think that she is a hypocrite. She is always talking about going green and saving the environment. She wants other to save on their electricity use, and their use of fossile fuels, etc. She is always talking about global warming, and how we should all do our part to save the environment. On her show once, she had a guest on that grew all of her own vegetables. She talked about how we should buy our vegetables from a local grower, because not only do they taste better, but they are better for the environment, since they don’t have to be transported all the way from California or even Austrailia, thus saving fossile fuel. She said her daughter Alexis, called those kinds of vegetables, “oily vegetables” because of all of the fuel that had to be used to transport them. All the while, Martha has several houses that use electricity, and she has several cars, one being a gas guzzling SUV. She travels all over the world on expensive vacations, flies over tourist attractions in helicoptors, etc. She is always bragging about going somewhere. Her last big adventure that I heard about was her vacation in Japan. She and her rich friends seem to think that they are more entitled to fossile fuels than us common people. She seems to be of the mindset, “do as I say, and not as I do”. If everyone in the United States or even the world had 4 different homes and properties the way she does, the environment wouldn’t have a chance to survive (especially if you believe the global warming theory). I could say more, but I’m sure you understand where I’m coming from. I love her energy and her creativity, but I hate her hypocrisy.

  • Marie Link

    Another thing that I forgot to mention about Martha and her contributioin to global warming. She has a lot Martha Stewart products that she promotes on her television show. Most of them are made in China, and transported to the United States. As far as I know, it takes fossile fuels to transport her products to the United States and wherever else they are transported to. I guess it’s ok for her to have all of her products transported from China. After all, it’s for Martha Stewart’s benefit. The rest of us will do without so that Martha can make her money selling us products that in the long run, is bad for the environment. Another hypocrisy from Martha Stewart and her daughter Alexis.

  • Amelia Link

    I just watched a Martha Stewart show on handbags and was curious about her daughter Alexis who appeared on the show to show off her $5,000 bag. I googled Alexis who is apparently a spokesperson for PETA. I’m sure every PETA representative has a bevy of expensive LEATHER handbags… What a hypocrite.

  • Charliemack Link

    Ya’ll should just hate martha (no I will not capitalize her name). After her latest show on cupcakes when she used the word “turd” she digusts me.

    Sending her to jail did nothing but harden her even more than she was in the past.

  • tricycle Link

    I don’t hate Martha Stewart, I don’t know her, I’ve never met her. But I have seen her show, many times and I dislike her immensely and people who are like her. She is unloveable and unsympathetic – because she is such a brag and a show-off, interrupts guests to say things like: Oh I(‘ve been there and it was fabulous!! and Oh he/she (name-dropping) is an old friend of mine or Oh, I’ve been doing that for years and years.
    There is something so immature and pathetic about her – always this need to assert herself; to compete; to be one up over whoever it is she is talking to: she doesn’t hesitate to demean; a perfect example of this very ugly trait is her interaction with Joey Cola on the show. I want to shout at him and say: ‘You don’t have to take that!! Are you a person or a doormat?? But – perhaps he needs the job I don’t know. But it throws a very bad llight on Martha Stewart. She wouldn’t know what humility is if it hit her in the face. Can’t someone convince her to retire. As soon as her show comes on I turn the TV off or zapp over to something else.
    Preserve us from this overbearing, immature show-off!

  • david Link

    Martha sucks she has no talent and she is nasty and a big liar!

  • Hatemartha Link

    I agree with “tricycle” that she interrupts her guests too often. So many times I wanted to listen to what her guests had to say because it seemed interesting and Martha Stewart just cut them off. It was as if she really wanted to sabotage her own show and make it not worth watching.
    I gave the show many chances by fliping to her show and staying for a bit, but each time I end up thinking: “Martha is so rude to her guests. These people can almost never get a complete sentence or thought across!”

  • KenaiFrank Link

    This so called gracious diva has everything money can buy. She’s celebrated throughout the land
    and has an income  and celebrity status that is beyond imagination.  However, every time she
    opens her mouth, the bad breath of self indulgence and privilege is exhaled.

  • janice Link

    Yea finally, some people who think like me!! Please Martha, this women is so disturbing to me, and for her to just diss Sara Palin, is toatally absurd, do you even  hear yourself? I have angreat idea, SHUT UP, who cares about what you think. I get so mad when i hear your voice, i can’t believe anyone watch’s your show. Always cutting the guest off, so rude, and you call yourself a teacher, wow. Of what,  ignorance, greed and narcisism? As far as I’m concerned, you could dissappear tomorrow and the world would be a much better place, and take your doilies with ya…..

  • Twana Link

    You guys need to get a life. She’s just a person. She isn’t God, she like what she likes, she does what she does. Do you really think she cares if you like her or not? Seriously I doubt she even gives it a second thought.

  • Deborah Link

    Can not stand the woman…although I will use the recipes she uses. what really bugs me is how frequently she uses the word “perfect”. No one is perfect and she is far far removed from perfect. Kudos to tricycle on bringing up how frequently she interrupts her guests…totally rude.

  • Lorraine K. Brown Link

    Jealous anyone? Come on, grow up and smell the perfectly pruned roses ! Before Martha Stewart elevated homekeeping to an art form life was little more than drudgery. She has inspired millions to learn, grow and expand our horizons. What’s wrong with learning a different, perhaps better way to run our homes. She doesn’t think she is perfect but if she makes you feel like a jerk perhaps that is your guilt screaming at you to stop being lazy. Her motto has always been “learn something new everyday”. No adult would fault her for that…

  • sam Link

    You glorify incompetence. There are hundreds of millions of dysfunctional people on this planet but only one Martha Stewart. You have been living with your kids for decades and you did not learn to make a single stew, bake an edible cake, or take them to a memorable trip ? Just what do you spend your days with? Apparently hating people who show us a moment of excellence, kindness and honest effort. There are dozens of cooking shows, hundreds of cookbooks, many willing friends or neighbors who can teach you how to make french toast, hard-boiled eggs, homemade fruit-on-the bottom yoghurt, a pound cake and apple fritters. Try them then go and apologize to your kids, buy them a better car than what you had, teach them how to make the hems even, hide the bra strings or get a decent haircut. But above all, teach them to value effort, perseverance, achievement and excellence, because the alternative is to hate everything worth living for.

  • gary nance Link

    yesterday i saw martha stewart on the today show touting, as usual, her marvelous cooking skills. she repeatedly pronounced marinade (meri’neid) “marinod”…what a pompous donkey!

  • Carla Link

    So today Martha is giving a speech at the university of Phoenix graduation, she is using it to advertise herself…. And just talking about herself and her cooking show and more about herself and more and more

  • Mert Link

    I never thought about her much until I read Just Desserts, a book that caused me to dislike her. When she published her first book, she failed to give credit to the people who made it possible (as if she did it all on her own), and she was inappropriately seductive with a man she didn’t even know who was photographing her for a book cover (or something). I never watch her show, will not buy any of her products, and don’t shop at stores that carry anything of hers.

  • Diana Link

    I once watched a segment of her show. I disliked her, but thought I’d give her a chance. She talked about sewing. Almost everything she said was wrong.

    She’s a fake.

  • Ghoulie Link

    I just happened on this today (like, 8 years later) – and I think you’re a gem and a hoot. Thanks for the humour, Ruth – seems like everyone takes things waaayy too seriously. I love a broad with a sense of humour about life when things are the pits. If we don’t laugh – we cry. P.S. Going to check out your books!

  • Shelley Link

    I have as much respect for Martha as she has for others….. None!

    In ever interview, guest appearance and the likes, if there is more than one person with the host she totally ignores the other guest and most often the host.


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