When models walk down the runway showing off a designer’s bathing suits, it’s the clothing that attracts the most attention. But that was not the case when Mara Martin hit the runway at Sports Illustrated Swim Search fashion show held in Miami, Florida in July 2018.
Sure, her sparkly bikini was eye-catching, but most people were focused on the five-month-old baby she breastfed as she strutted down the catwalk.
Throughout the Sports Illustrated competition, Martin kept her daughter, Aria, close.
“The team and crew got to know her throughout the process and when I found out I made the final 16, the editor of the magazine, MJ Day, asked if I wanted to walk the runway with her for one of my looks,” she told BAZAAR.com.
On the day of the show, the schedule kept changing. Eventually Martin had to feed Aria.
“I began to feed her, like I do every daily [sic], multiple times a day, and did through out the entire casting process. Then casually, MJ came over to me and said that if I wanted to continue feeding when it was my turn, that she would support it.”
When it was her turn, the model continued to feed her daughter and thought nothing of it. To her, it was natural.
“Breastfeeding is a natural thing and has become such a normal part of my daily life the past five months that I didn’t really think of anything of it when I decided to walk out.”
Martin, who was one of 16 finalists in the contest, walked out to cheers.
The following day Martin thanked her supporters on Instagram.
“I can’t believe I am waking up to headlines with me and my daughter in them for doing something I do every day,” she wrote. “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!”
She also wanted to call to attention the other women who walked alongside her, who she said were “far more deserving” of a headline.
She mentioned a woman who was going to enter the military soon, a paralympic snowboarder, and a cancer survivor.
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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
Share this article to normalize breastfeeding! There is nothing unnatural about feeding your child and that’s precisely what Mara Martin was trying to prove.