In this day and age, if you know the name “Tesla,” then you probably may know Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk. But you may not be as familiar with Musk’s mother, Maye Musk, the 69-year-old model.
That’s right, at age 63, Maye Musk appeared on the cover of New York Magazine naked with a pregnant stomach. Which part of that sentence did you just re-read? The part about being 63 years old, or naked… or was it the part about being pregnant? The magazine cover definitely created major buzz at the time, making it possibly one of the most controversial moments in Musk’s modeling career. No stranger to the spotlight, Musk started modeling at age of 15. She’s since had a history of competing in many beauty competitions, including the Miss South Africa pageant where she became a finalist back in 1969.
Her long list of appearances is more than impressive. Musk has been featured on boxes of Special K cereal, a Beyoncé music video (the “Haunted” music video, if you were curious, like me) and countless magazine covers. And that is just small sample of the great work she has done. Musk was just named one of Cover Girl’s oldest Cover Girls. She stands alongside other Cover Girls like Queen Latifah and Ellen, all who are also beauty models over the age of 30. While Queen Latifah and Ellen are better known for their talents in other fields like comedy and acting, Musk stands out as the Cover Girl who was totally devoted to modeling. She’s one of the few to be an older model without an existing celebrity status.
Musk did receive a master’s degree in dietetics and another in nutritional science, so this woman isn’t just a pretty face, but an intelligent mind and strong body. Modeling most of her life, receiving an education, raising a family and continuing a life of culture and travel, Musk is the ultimate role model — pun intended. She never let age, stage in life or societal norms stop her from doing things she believed in and supported. Whether this was posing naked at 63 or acquiring a higher education, she did what she wanted.
This is a great lesson for anyone. I was listening to a podcast recently and the speaker mentioned how little girls used to look up to their mothers and wanted to be just like them, but then somewhere around the '70s that mindset switched, and mothers began wanting to dress like their daughters. The idolization of youth began, and now is ever so prominent in today’s world. This isn’t just in the fashion world, even if you walk into a job interview, people are going to judge you immediately for either being too young or too old. Now, women begin to feel the stresses of aging as early as 30 years old. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but just look at any beauty product being advertised nowadays, and you’ll notice it’s not just the models who are young, but the products themselves focus on anti-aging, anti-wrinkling tightening, brightening and other “youthful” beauty features.
The fact that in her 60s, an age that I imagine grandmothers to be at, Musk posed naked and took on a beauty contract really makes me believe that if you work hard and truly believe in yourself, you can do anything you set your mind to. Musk worked hard to gain the respect and have the opportunities she has now, and that’s the big takeaway for us as ambitious young women. Musk worked hard her entire life and was rewarded for those efforts. During this confusing time in college, where we’re forced to question who we are, what our desires are and what our future will be, it’s important to remember role models like Musk. From her experiences (and her successes), we can see that with hard work, passion and drive, it’s never too late to achieve our dreams.
Never let things like age, gender or social norms slow you down as you chase the bright future surely ahead of you.