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