Women do not have to sac­ri­fice per­son­hood if they are moth­ers. They do not have to sac­ri­fice moth­er­hood in order to be per­sons. Lib­er­a­tion was meant to expand women’s oppor­tu­ni­ties, not to limit them.
~Elaine Heffner

No, Martha is not vegan. Nor are her cook­books or show ter­ri­bly vegan-inclined (although search­ing “vegan” on her site will turn up quite a few arti­cles and recipes). And I know it’s all the rage to hate on her, but I don’t care: I still love Martha.

Say what you will about her time in prison, because we all make mis­takes, and the rest of us are lucky enough to not deal with them pub­licly. No one is per­fect, but one mis­take (a mis­take that didn’t hurt any­one) shouldn’t define a person’s legacy.

Now, I’m not a hard­core devo­tee, track­ing and sub­scrib­ing to her whole empire of awe­some­ness. But I do sub­scribe to her Liv­ing mag­a­zine, own a cou­ple of her cook­books, and I have pur­chased some of her cook­ing acces­sories at Macy’s (my favorite spat­u­las ever!), but I don’t watch her show or keep tabs on much.* But I admire her very much, and here are a cou­ple of rea­sons why:

1. When many women were run­ning from domes­tic­ity, Martha stood in the kitchen with her head held high. I know peo­ple who strongly feel that women who do any­thing “domes­tic” are turn­ing their backs on lib­er­a­tion and woman’s rights. Martha not only held close to those domes­tic activ­i­ties, she made them hers. I con­sider myself a fem­i­nist with three different-sized cookie scoops.

2. Martha is a self-made woman. She’s never been to culi­nary school. Or design school. She sim­ply had a pas­sion and tal­ent and ran with it and it took off. Because of that, peo­ple have labeled her many things (demand­ing, a bitch, etc.). This is what hap­pens when you shake up the good ol’ boys club. Martha is one of the rich­est and most pow­er­ful busi­ness women in the US. You don’t get that far and cre­ate such an enor­mous brand with­out being assertive and stick­ing to your guns. Last time I checked with the oppo­site sex, this was called good busi­ness sense, not bitchiness.

3. Martha makes every­one an artist. There are a good amount of peo­ple who think they have no cre­ativ­ity. There are also peo­ple who think that because they aren’t Picasso or Bob Dylan that they aren’t an artist. Martha has opened up the pub­lic eye to see every­day liv­ing as some­thing cre­ative. Whether your art is mak­ing a whole­some din­ner, hand­mak­ing invites to a party or dec­o­rat­ing your house, there is art to be cel­e­brated every­where. I’m not say­ing she invented this con­cept, but she cer­tainly pop­u­lar­ized it. Every­one needs to have an outlet.

4. I pray that when I’m 68 I’ll be that cool. Sure, she has a staff who scouts out trends, but she also has the abil­ity to decide that they should be focus­ing on quilt­ing with ging­ham rather than pur­su­ing hip new crafters or vegan cup­cake dec­o­ra­tions. Sorry ging­ham, you lose.

5. When your name becomes an adjec­tive, you know you’ve arrived. “You’re being so Martha!” Or “Oh I’m feel­ing very Martha today!” Like it or not, the woman has defined a cer­tain sense of do-it-yourself chic.

Any­one who knows me know that I’m far from being a ter­ri­bly con­ven­tional or girly-girlish. Actu­ally, peo­ple who know me also know that I tend to shy away from things that have main­stream pop­u­lar­ity, so my out­pour­ing of love is unchar­ac­ter­is­tic (and no, no one is spon­sor­ing this post.) But I love cook­ing and can­ning and I pre­tend that I love craft­ing (even though I’m too lazy and have no atten­tion span for it). I love how pop­u­lar these things have become again. It delighted me when I went to the store this sum­mer and they were sold out of can­ning jars because it meant the peo­ple were mak­ing their own food. I love going to Crafty Won­der­land and see­ing the awe­some cre­ations that peo­ple are sell­ing. And look at all of us and our food blogs! There are a good many things that have con­tributed to this surge, so to say it’s all Martha is unre­al­is­tic, but you can’t deny what a trail­blazer she has been. Go Martha!

What do you think of Martha? Leave a com­ment and 3 lucky win­ners will be ran­domly picked for a copy of my cook­book (with nom! but­tons, of course). Win­ners will be drawn on Fri­day the 9th. I’ll send them where ever on Earth you are, so get commenting!

*full dis­clo­sure, I do fol­low her on Twit­ter. But I suck at main­tain­ing Twit­ter and god knows she doesn’t actu­ally update it, so it doesn’t count. :)

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40 Responses to why i love martha (and i’m not ashamed to admit it)

  1. Wacky Hermit says:

    Well, I’m going to have to agree with you. All I can add is that Martha Stew­art for me stands for an era (that per­haps never existed? well it can now…) when women were real women, not wussy lit­tle pim­ples on the butts of men. Women who ran farm­steads when their men went off to war. Women who kicked butt *and* baked cakes. Awe­some, capa­ble, can-do women.

  2. Courtney says:

    I love Martha too! I don’t fol­low her on Twit­ter, get her mag­a­zine, or even watch her show, but I DO have great respect for her and what she does…she is self-made, like you said, and she is amaz­ingly smart and lookin damn good at 68! If only we could all be as ambi­tious and entre­pre­neur­ial as Martha… :-)


  3. Hope says:

    I Love Martha. I think she is smart and tal­ented. I don’t have any­thing against her at all. I own one of her cook books too. The only thing that would make her bet­ter is if she were vegan.

  4. Ashley says:

    I have mixed feel­ings about Martha. While I don’t think she seems like the friend­liest woman ever (though I have no idea), I can’t help but respect the busi­ness she’s built for her­self and how much she teaches women to not be ashamed of doing “domes­tic” things.

  5. yasmin says:

    Inter­est­ing post! I don’t have a strong opin­ion on Martha either way, but you make a good argu­ment — she’s def­i­nitely wor­thy of respect for all her accom­plish­ments, both on her own business-wise and in mak­ing the ‘domes­tic arts’ some­thing worthwhile.

  6. Christine says:

    I guess I’d never given Martha much thought. But I like your point about how her name has become its own descriptor!

  7. Michele says:

    Great post. I love Martha and I’m a vegetarian.

    Your blog is fantastic–lots of neat recipes.

  8. Megan says:

    This is such a cute entry!! I think she’s a lit­tle con­trived some­times but I totally agree with your com­ment about how a lot of peo­ple equate craftiness/skill in the kitchen/enjoying knitting/“domesticity” with “OMG why don’t you just send us all back to Vic­to­rian Eng­land?”, and that’s just BS! Go Martha for hold­ing that whisk high!!

  9. Vijita says:

    I like Martha. She’s pretty badass and she’s open to vegan recipes with­out over-emphasizing the fact that she’s not vegan!

  10. mellyeats says:

    I think she’s great. There’s some­thing about her (per­haps the clean lines and white sheets?) that makes her very lik­able and refresh­ing. I kinda want to be her.

  11. Ben says:

    Its good you dis­closed that your not get­ting kick­backs as its soon to be a law.

    Soon, Blog­gers Must Give Full Dis­clo­sure

    It was just passed in the UK.

    • Kris says:

      Yeah, I know. Some blog­gers are so bad about try­ing to act all casual. My blog is not for sale, so no one needs to worry about that. :)

  12. Aimee says:

    YES!! I love Martha. I just (finally) gave away 15 years of Liv­ing back-issues (had no room to store them any longer). I love her for all the rea­sons you stated. She has done so much for the art of home-making and cook­ing and craft­ing and sewing. She is totally kick-ass! Go Martha!

  13. I agree, Martha is great! She is like Oprah — a one-woman empire! She is tough, yes, but she didn’t get to be her fab­u­lous self with­out step­ping on a few toes!

  14. jessy says:

    okay — you got me — i’ve totally gotta admit that i like Martha, too. i mean, how can you not love the woman?! in my eyes — she’s so bad ass! i’m always look­ing at her recipes online for inspi­ra­tion and i love her crafti­ness! rock on with the love for Martha! yay!

  15. Kevin says:

    I was just intro­duced to your cook­book and blog — I am offi­cially infat­u­ated! Can­not wait to try… well… everything!

  16. zud says:

    i really liked martha before her talk show, when it was just pre-taped seg­ments and “good things”. i admire her tal­ent and pas­sion for domes­tic­ity but i feel she just doesn’t con­nect with her live audi­ence or guests. its kinda painful to watch so i stopped watch­ing. i remem­ber once she had paula deen as a guest and paula ruled hands down.

    • Kris says:

      I have to agree with you here. When she’s talk­ing by her­self it’s not bad, but when she’s inter­act­ing with a guest it can be so awk­ward to watch…

  17. Erin says:

    I think what Martha has done for the value of a “Home” is great. Even though every­one is busy, she kind of slows things down to show that lit­tle things are still impor­tant. I’m also curi­ous to know about her prison time– she didn’t let it con­sume her career. It was like, “Hey, I was in prison, and now I’m out. Let’s make a cake.”

    It’s a good thing. :)

  18. Josiane says:

    I don’t really have an opin­ion either way, and it would actu­ally be weird that I’d have one because I don’t watch TV (so I’ve never seen her show), don’t read mag­a­zines all that often (and when I do it’s usu­ally local ones) so, really, I haven’t been directly exposed to her and to what she does. But still, I think that the fact I’ve heard about her despite all of this says lots about the place she’s made for her­self, and that in itself is some­thing I can appreciate.

  19. Arielle says:

    I love Martha! I have been read­ing her mag­a­zines since I was a child, in love with the clas­sic style and grace imbued into every beau­ti­ful photograph.

  20. I have run hot and cold on Martha, but I hon­estly think she’s become more per­son­able since her time in the slammer :)

  21. Jeanette says:

    I like what she rep­re­sents, but she has had lit­tle impact on my life.

  22. warrior two says:

    I love her. While I have to admit she caters directly to the bour­geois, I love the fact that I can buy her great qual­ity sheets at Kmart for a good price. Those suck­ers have lasted for­ever! She made color-coordinated paint chips for her paint line which I gotta say is really help­ful when you’re color-challenged. Her open­ness to veg­an­ism is absolutely awe­some; by intro­duc­ing vegan authors and recipes so seam­lessly with the rest of her pre­sen­ta­tions, she com­pletely elim­i­nates the “freak” fac­tor. That alone is a huge help to the cause.

  23. BJ says:

    I admire Martha. There! It’s out. Her time in prison was a waste of tax­pay­ers money, IMNSHO. Good for her for just get­ting back to what she does best.

  24. Choco says:

    I think Martha kicks a$$.

    She really intro­duced a sophis­ti­ca­tion to domes­tic­ity and the domes­tic arts that was chic, inspir­ing and fas­ci­nat­ing when no one else was doing so in quite the same way.

    And while many of Martha’s craft projects are time con­sum­ing, elab­o­rate, and need some­what pricey tools to be put together and her cook­ing recipes are labor inten­sive and often use expen­sive ingre­di­ents, with her aura of “you can do it” and prag­matic grace, we some­how all find our­selves want­ing to rush out and buy glue guns and Sil­pat bak­ing sheets.

  25. lea says:

    I love her web­site. Not only for recipes– some of which can eas­ily be veg­a­nized, but the pre­sen­ta­tion is always beau­ti­ful! It gave me lots of great ideas for an upcom­ing party that I’m cater­ing. Like her cookie book too– but have only made 1 or 2 things from it so far.

  26. Heather says:

    I love Martha — I always have! I admire both her domes­tic god­dess abil­i­ties as well as her incred­i­bly shrewd busi­ness acu­men (well, except for that one slip-up, there). I think she’s fab­u­lous all around! GO TEAM MARTHA! :-)

  27. I totally love Martha, for the rea­sons you share, but because I think the way she has han­dled her set­backs is awe­some. She chose not to drag out appeals and just go to prison, for the good of her com­pany. Her first shows back after her prison sen­tence were amaz­ing. She totally acknowl­edged it, talked about it, fea­tured the woman who made her that pon­cho, did an episode on the Super Bowl party treats she made with ingre­di­ents from the prison com­mis­sary. IOW: She just kept on keep­ing on.

    She’s an icon and tough as nails, and that’s OK with me.

  28. Lisa says:

    I like her for many of the rea­sons that you’ve said. I fly my domes­tic god­dess flag proudly! One of my friends sent her a “knit­ted post­card” once, and next thing she knew, she was invited on the show! I thought that was cool. Also, I was impressed with how she made use of her prison time — befriend­ing other inmates, teach­ing them some Martha good­ness, and inspir­ing them to be pro­duc­tive dur­ing their time there. But she didn’t for­get about them once she got out. I haven’t read much about it lately, but I do know that she has spo­ken about prison reform in light of what she witnessed/experienced.

    I also love that she has a great sense of humor. I mean, her daugh­ter has a show ded­i­cated to mak­ing fun of her, and they have a great relationship!

  29. Molly G says:

    She’s a lit­tle too main­stream for my taste, and I don’t really under­stand her appeal (she never seems par­tic­u­larly invit­ing), but I, too, an a pow­er­ful, butt-kicking fem­i­nist who loves to be domes­tic. So, I guess, thanks Martha for prov­ing that these things are not mutu­ally exclusive.

  30. veganplaisir says:

    She’s 68? Hot damn, I hope I’m that cool at that age, too.

    I’ve had peo­ple say I’m like Martha Stew­art. While I’m no huge fan, I’m glad there is such a woman as her. I totally pick up issues of MS Liv­ing around the hol­i­days; they always give me inspi­ra­tion and the feel­ing of “hey, I’ve thought of that idea before! I’m so cool.”

    For me, she embod­ies a pas­sion for life and good liv­ing. She shows that every­one can add love­li­ness and silly fun things to their lives, and it’s often eas­ier than you think. Don’t know much about her as a per­son, though.

  31. Clea says:

    I like Martha. Some­times I think she’s overkill, but that’s more a result of inten­sive mar­ket­ing (and the KMart line) than her own fault. She makes good things (um, pun not intended) and inspires a lot of women to be cre­ative in and out of the kitchen.

  32. Mo says:

    I think she has a big­ger sense of humor than any­body gives her credit for and her time in prison, I think, seemed to hum­ble her. I have respect for her now, when I didn’t really feel any­thing before.

    She looks amaz­ing for 68!

  33. Gwennie says:

    I admire Martha, and I agree with what you’re say­ing about her being a self-made woman. I can appre­ci­ate how much effort and ded­i­ca­tion have gone into build­ing her empire.

    I do how­ever find her a bit cutesy for my taste, my sis­ter on the other hand loves her (which, if you knew my sis­ter and I, proves my point).

    Go Martha.

  34. Vegetation says:

    Hahaha, I’ll be hon­est. I don’t know who she is *blush* but you make her sound pretty awesome!

  35. mollyjwalter says:

    All thor­ough and valid argu­ment for the awe­some­ness that is Martha Stew­art. I see your point for sure and agree with all points.

    How­ever, I think the one thing that bugs me about Martha is the lack of acces­si­bil­ity. It seems that the best is all that will be allowed in the Martha kitchen and life. Cut­ting cor­ners, pinch­ing pen­nies, and sav­ing time seems to be for­bid­den meth­ods of cook­ing and “every­day liv­ing” in her con­glom­er­ate. I’m not say­ing these meth­ods are always left out of her recipes, be it cooking/baking, craft­ing, or dec­o­rat­ing, but the over­all approach, fla­vor, and decor is too high brow for the aver­age eco-conscious, kid-raising, multi-tasking mom like me.

    :) — Molly