Swimsuit model Mara Martin surprised audiences on Monday when she took to the catwalk breastfeeding her five-month-old daughter.
Martin was one of 16 models selected by Sports Illustrated for Miami Swim Week. However, when she appeared on the runway modeling a glittering gold two-piece bikini, just as many eyes were on her infant daughter, Aria. Sporting a cloth diaper, a green glittery wrap, and bright blue headphones, Aria was being breastfed and carried by her mother down the catwalk. Sports Illustrated captured video of the model heading back down the runway, smiling down at her daughter, and at the cameras, to a cheering audience.
The video has been viewed of 360,000 times since Monday, and the numbers keep rising. Martin posted on her Instagram about the reactions to her catwalk, saying, “I’m so grateful to be able to share this message and hopefully normalize breastfeeding and also show others that women CAN DO IT ALL!” But Martin also wanted to shine a light on the other models who were also breaking down barriers, such as breast cancer survivor Allyn Rose and Paralympic gold medalist Brenna Huck. “Those are the stories that our world should be discussing!!!!” Martin said in her post.
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Wow! WHAT A NIGHT! Words can’t even describe how amazing I feel after being picked to walk the runway for @si_swimsuit. Anyone who knows me, knows it has been a life long dream of mine. I can’t believe I am waking up to headlines with me and my daughter in them for doing something I do every day. It is truly so humbling and unreal to say the least. I’m so grateful to be able to share this message and hopefully normalize breastfeeding and also show others that women CAN DO IT ALL! But to be honest, the real reason I can’t believe it is a headline is because it shouldn’t be a headline!!! My story of being a mother and feeding her while walking is just that. Last night there are far more deserving headlines that our world should see. One woman is going to boot camp in two weeks to serve our country (@shauntness), one woman had a double mastectomy (@allynrose), and another is a cancer survivor, 2x paralympic gold medalist, as well as a mother herself (@bren_hucks you rock) Those are the stories that our world should be discussing!!!! Just thinking about all that was represented there… I desperately need to give the most thanks to @mj_day for this. She supported me in what I did last night. Without her support this wouldn’t even be discussed!!!! She and the entire Sports Illustrated family are the most amazing and incredible team to have worked with. THANK YOU for letting all 16 of us be our true selves, strong beautiful women!!! Because of you, my daughter is going to grow up in a better world, where she will always feel this way!!!!!! Lastly, to every single woman that rocked that runway with me. Be proud. I know I am of you! You all have inspired me in ways unimaginable. I love you all!!! #siswimsearch
Just as Martin had hoped would happen, her walk down the runway with her daughter is inspiring women, with many reflecting on their own experiences as working mothers. Others were just happy to see Sports Illustrated celebrating a use for breasts outside of titillation.
She not only looks amazing but Mara Martin is who we all are – women, strong beautiful people and she’s doing the best job being a mum while working. https://t.co/mL28wAEu7T
— catgad (@kiwiwmn) July 16, 2018
Some were made uncomfortable by Martin’s actions, not because of the breastfeeding itself, but because they felt it looked like a publicity stunt. But others pointed out that when a baby needs to feed, they need to feed, and the world doesn’t stop for parents to feed them.
her child was hungry and needed to be fed at the EXACT moment she was scheduled to walk the runway?
As much as I support breastfeeding in public, I do NOT when the infant is being used as a "prop";
how is this NOT exploitation of that child?
— Wendell L Thornhill (@WLThornhill) July 17, 2018
Agreed. This baby is clearly feeding. So he/she needed it. And also, the world doesn’t stop when your child needs to be fed. Regular moms work and feed simultaneously every single second of every single day. She just happens to be a model.
— Nicole Andersen (@nic_andersen) July 17, 2018
Overall, the response to Martin and baby Aria seems to have been positive. Martin thanked Sports Illustrated in her Instagram post, saying, “THANK YOU for letting all 16 of us be our true selves, strong beautiful women!!! Because of you, my daughter is going to grow up in a better world, where she will always feel this way!!!!!!”
H/T NBC Washington