THE DIVINE MISS M
Businesswoman, dietitian, author and supermodel Maye Musk shares her wisdom on diet, life, family and more.
Canadian-South African model and dietitian, Maye Musk, is a mother of three: one of them, her eldest, is industrial designer, engineer and business magnate, Elon. Musk began modelling in South Africa at the age of 15 and has worked as a model consistently since, while raising three children, achieving two Master of Science degrees and running a practice as a dietitian. The 72-year-old has graced the covers of international magazines for more than 50 years including Time, Vogue and practically every other glossy magazine to ever hit the newsstands. In recent years, she appeared in a Beyoncé video and became CoverGirl’s oldest spokesmodel at age 69.
Maye is also the author of the bestselling memoir, A Woman Makes a Plan: Advice for a Lifetime of Adventure, Beauty, and Success.
You’ve been very successful for years administering advice on nutrition – do you do this mainly through your writing?
Well, for 45 years, I had a private practice and I would do one-on-one nutrition advice. Doctors would send their patients to me, especially if they had high cholesterol or pre-diabetes or diabetes or any chronic diseases that are related to nutrition. And also, I lectured around the world on various diets, nutritious diets based on science. I would also talk about how to start your own business as a wellness professional because I always ran my own business. And then about five years ago, I became a supermodel! (laughs). It was about time! I was 67, and I walked in New York Fashion Week for the first time, and now I’m doing very nicely. And I wrote this book, which has gone worldwide. So I’m very happy about my future.
You write that your diet is always healthy, packed with vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, nuts and dairy. You eat vegetarian at home and meat when eating out. Your diet is impressive – does it take a lot of discipline?
Yes, it’s very hard to keep on a diet because I’m not naturally lean, and I
have to plan my meals every day and every hour so that I don’t just let things go.
You have six or eight meals a day?
Yes, I do. A meal could be an apple and yogurt or a slice of bread and peanut butter, small meals because I get hungry. I only eat when I’m hungry, and then I don’t want to eat too much.
Becoming a supermodel came to you later in life. Was that a hidden desire? How did it happen?
It was never a secret desire. I was totally focused on my education, that’s why I did a Bachelor of Science degree at Tukkies [University of Pretoria], so I had to learn to speak Afrikaans. And then, I did a Master of Science at Kovsies, which is the Orange Free
State University, then I became fluent in Afrikaans. So, we always just focused on having integrity, being educated, and doing good. And modelling was part-time; I never told anybody I modelled. When I moved to the States at 47, people would come up to me and say, “You’re beautiful!” and I’m thinking, “What?” We don’t say that to people in South Africa.
Your son, Elon, is a pioneer with Tesla and SpaceX and Neuralink. As a mother, do you have talks with him about the future of the planet?
He’s still my son, and when all four of us are together, we catch up. Tosca [a filmmaker] talks about her company, Passionflix; Kimbal [restaurateur, chef] talks about his restaurants or his vegetable gardens; and Elon talks about what he’s doing.
We laugh, we have fun. But you know, it’s been gradual, of course, because over the years Elon has gone through different companies, and he’s always ahead of his time. We all work very hard, but we laugh a lot together.
So we’re very happy that Elon is doing such good work; however, we are also happy that we are not him because it’s too much pressure, but we support him completely, and we support each other.
Your daughter has created Passionflix, a streaming platform for romance fans. She said that she fell in love with romance because you loved romance.
So often we talk about romance in terms of men, and in my book, I said I was never successful in relationships. To me, romance is a man bringing roses, being kind to you, considerate, helping you with something.
I found that men tend to be more self-absorbed, and I would be helping them in their business or whatever they have to do. They were never supportive of me, except for one, my German boyfriend in Toronto.
He helped me move offices (laughs). He would bring me roses every Friday night before we would go out with his friends.
But mostly, men don’t know about romance, so they really should be watching these movies, because it shows you it is nicer to touch a woman’s face than to grab her. You know? And just to touch her neck, that’s very sensitive.
If you only knew how easy it is when you make those gestures – women fall in love with you, but then you do the gross thing and grab or you don’t want to hold her hand. Men need to watch Passionflix movies.
In your book, you share details of the physical and mental abuse you endured from your ex-husband, and your life as a single mother. What’s the biggest misconception about you?
That I’ve had an easy life. My three kids said to me, “If you’re writing that book, you’d better talk about your struggles because we were with you through all of them.”
“WE’RE VERY HAPPY THAT ELON IS DOING SUCH GOOD WORK.”