On Sunday, Mara Martin, one of sixteen finalists chosen for Sports Illustrated‘s annual swimsuit show, caused quite the stir for choosing to walk the runway in Miami while breastfeeding her five-month-old daughter.
Whether or not it’s “appropriate” for a woman to breastfeed in public has been a heated debate among Americans for many years, and Martin’s decision took a defiant stand.
“I can’t believe I am waking up to headlines with me and my daughter in them for doing something I do every day,” Martin wrote on Instagram. “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 added that, while flattered, her decision “shouldn’t be a headline” because her “story of being a mother and feeding her while walking is just that.” She then went on to mention other stories that she feels were more noteworthy, such as that of a woman going into bootcamp in two weeks to serve her country, and thanked “the entire Sports Illustrated family” for supporting her in the show.
“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!!!”
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 (sorry i don’t know your IG handle 🤦🏽♀️), one woman had a 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
Many people praised her for bravely trying to normalize breastfeeding.
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
However, others slammed her for what they felt was an obvious publicity stunt.
It doesn’t matter. It’s her choice and her child — she’s the mom after all. If she felt like it was ABSOLUTELY necessary to breastfeed her child because she was hungry, then fine. If she was using her child for a publicity stunt, then hmm no comment. @_maramartin_ #modelmom https://t.co/98WL19dKs8
— Ige World (@Ige_World) July 17, 2018
Whichever side of the debate you’re on, one thing is certain: she looked amazing.
Having a model walk the runway while breastfeeding her baby is the latest in a series of moves by Sports Illustrated Swimsuit to elevate the annual issue from a catalogue of sexy beach bodies into a serious discussion on women’s rights and body inclusivity. Back in February, the swimsuit edition stirred up controversy over a photo-shoot of nude models who had words written on their bodies that describe the positive ways in which they see themselves. Prior to that, it made waves thanks to a sexy spread of golf star Paige Spiranac that some detractors claimed was “sexualizing women’s golf.”
For more behind-the-scenes SI stories, check out This Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Just Posted Some Jaw-Dropping Photos.
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