Elon Musk's mother Maye, 74, becomes oldest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover star

Maye Musk and Elon Musk attend The 2022 Met Gala Celebrating
Maye Musk, mother of Elon Musk, hopes her SI Swimsuit issue cover will 'make women feel more comfortable when they swim'. (Getty Images)

Elon Musk's mother Maye has become the oldest model to grace the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue – something she would never have imagined.

Also an author, dietitian and activist, the 74-year-old defied ageist societal views as she posed in a ruffle-embellished Maygel Coronel one-piece for the magazine, accompanied with palm tree earrings, in a beach setting in Belize.

"My first reaction was, I could never dream up something like that because why would anyone have a 74-year-old on their cover, especially in a swimsuit," she told PEOPLE.

"I do think it's going to make women feel more comfortable in their seventies when they swim, as well as women in their twenties and thirties."

Read more: Sports Illustrated model proudly shows off C-section scar in 2022 Swimsuit Issue

She also opened up about the pressure women face surrounding 'beach bodies' and how to deal with it.

"When women go to the beach, we're kind of shy about our bodies, but men will walk around, looking terrible and they don't care," she continued. "I think we have to not care that much!"

Musk credited the "lovely atmosphere" of the SI Swimsuit shoot, shot by photographer Yu Tsai, with helping her feel "very comfortable" in what she was wearing.

In her 2019 memoir, A Woman Makes a Plan: Advice for a Lifetime of Adventure, Beauty and Success, she addresses the negative connotations around ageing as something that shouldn't be tolerated, something she is still clearly advocating for.

"I went through different stages of my life where I was rejected, insulted, disappointed and it just takes away your confidence," Musk explained to the magazine.

"Then you just have to get over it. So here, I'm 74, I'm the happiest I've ever been, and I don't care, and nobody's insulting me because — you don't want to insult a grandmother. The point is, people are really good to me at this stage, but why should it take so long?"

Read more: Elon Musk's model mum shares skincare routine that keeps her looking young

Maye Musk visits the Empire State Building as Sports Illustrated Swimsuit surprises Maye Musk as newest cover model on May 11, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for Empire State Realty Trust)
Maye Musk thinks more representation is going to change how women feel wearing swimsuits in public. (Getty Images for Empire State Realty Trust)

In her interview with SI Swimsuit, her message was just as clear. "I’m very excited that they’ve decided that even older women can wear swimsuits and look great. I think it’s really going to change how women feel when they walk out in their swimsuits.”

While her profession meant she "didn't think age would be a problem because as a dietician and a scientist, age is not a problem", she recognised the stigma nonetheless, and is happy to still be able to help others feel good about themselves at any age.

"I’m also very proud that I can give a message to women in the world to aim for happiness, do things you like to do, mix with nice people, be kind to everyone because you never know and pursue whatever you’d wish to do. I really am living the best life ever, and I never expected it," she added.

Read more: Carol Vorderman, 61, breaks down her age-defying workout regime

In her recent instagram post, with the caption "Does it look like I had fun on the @si_swimsuit photoshoot?", celeb pals and fans flooded the comments with support.

"You are the epitome of inspiration," commented one, while another wrote, "Legend. I adore you and love watching you crash through 'glass' ceilings".

Many others wished her congratulations, saying she looked "stunning", "fabulous" and "fantastic", on "such a powerful cover".

Musk has joined Kim Kardashian, Ciara and model Yumi Nu as faces of the 2022 issue, with model Kelly Hughes the first to expose a caesarean section scar in the Swimsuit issue.

Watch: Kim Kardashian lands 'Sports Illustrated Swimsuit' cover