Maye Musk’s Remarkable Journey: International Model, Domestic Violence Survivor, Businesswoman, and Mother of Elon Musk

For those who don’t know her, she is the mother of the wealthy Elon Musk, but she is also an optimistic and go-getter woman with a career glamour. Recognized as an international top model, this woman of strong character, the most determined, has also experienced dark episodes, including episodes of domestic violence. Today, looking back, Maye Musk conveys her life lessons in her book.

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It can be said with certainty that Maye Musk, now 74, is an amazing lady who has done very well in life. But this woman has also known the worst, and it’s what she says has shaped her character over the decades.

From the beginning, when we read his book, we notice that his parents were different from the others. His father liked to fly small planes and enjoyed going on adventures across the Kalahari Desert in Africa, taking his five children with him. Young, Maye Musk thus acquired a taste for risk and that is what made her an ambitious woman who raised no limits or boundaries.


Maye Musk's Remarkable Journey: International Model, Domestic Violence Survivor, Businesswoman, and Mother of Elon Musk

Lessons of a Lifetime Book / Courtesy Photo

“We could go on an adventure through the desert for three weeks. My parents took risks, but it got me through the hard times. At a very young age, they made me understand that I had to make a plan to improve my life,” she explains.

Maye Musk was born in Canada in Regina (Saskatchewan) and a few years later moved to South Africa with her family. This is where, at the age of 15, she took her first steps as a model, after being a finalist in the Miss South Africa beauty pageant, and where she became a dietitian. It is also there that she will marry a South African engineer, with whom she will have her three children, Elon, Kimbal and Tosca.

But Maye Musk will experience more rejections as she tries to make a career as a model. Unable to support herself, she must return to nutrition. She earned a master’s degree in nutritional science after returning to Canada. She will have to wait until she is 60 before her career takes off.

“Even when you are rejected, you must never give up, you must continue to persevere and continue to look for work”, she emphasizes. “You also have to really love what you do.”

Domestic violence

While living in South Africa with her husband and children, Maye Musk was repeatedly subjected to various abuses by her husband. Verbal violence, yes, but also physical. “The biggest challenge of my life was running away from my husband with three young children,” says Maye Musk. “I was terrified and had no confidence, I was destitute, especially as my husband had taken all my savings.”


Maye Musk's Remarkable Journey: International Model, Domestic Violence Survivor, Businesswoman, and Mother of Elon Musk

Photographer Susan Bowlus

Still surprising that a woman of this caliber could have tolerated her husband’s abuse for years. “The laws at that time in this part of the world did not favor divorce, even in situations of abuse,” recalls the one who had to move many times and was not afraid to start everything from scratch. “I had to wait for the laws to change and for women to be able to divorce their husbands. It saved my life.”

If she is aware that life can be cruel, the now mature lady is wiser than ever and has learned the hard-fought lessons.

His great pride

Although her career can make many women green with envy, having graced the cover of several prestigious magazines, including Time, and being Dior’s muse, it doesn’t seem to overwhelm her with vanity, which doesn’t stop her from being proud to show her age, wearing gray hair and posing in a bathing suit, even sometimes naked. When asked what she is most proud of, however, Maye Musk answers unequivocally. “My three children are my greatest pride! she exclaims. They all do good things in life to make this world a better place.”

By discovering Maye Musk’s extraordinary career, we also better understand that her son, the multi-billionaire Elon Musk, whom she describes as gifted since his teenage years, was able to memorize the encyclopedia. British in no time.

As for the various setbacks that life has in store for us, here is the philosophy she instilled in her children. “You can’t control everything that happens to you in life, but you can have the life you want at any age. You just have to have a plan”, concludes the person who currently lives in New York.


Maye Musk's Remarkable Journey: International Model, Domestic Violence Survivor, Businesswoman, and Mother of Elon Musk

photo credit Kevin Lynch

Lessons of a lifetime

Maye Musk

Thierry Souccar Editions

253 pages

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