Mara Martin made a splash during the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Fashion Show Sunday evening in Miami, Florida, as she strutted the runway breastfeeding her daughter, Aria. Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’s Instagram titled the video “Girl Power” to which many women across the globe gathered together in the latest wave of public breastfeeding approval.
Martin is one of 16 finalists from an open casting call at Miami Swim Week. Thousands of women auditioned but Sports Illustrated chose a very specific group of women by their videos, interviews and Instagram profiles. With the wide variety of personalities, Sports Illustrated allowed each individual to be their true self, according to Martin’s Instagram post.
Post selection process, Martin let her followers know by posting a selfie with her daughter smiling, sharing about making it to the final 16.
The show took place at the W South Beach hotel with an audience full of spectators and fans but featured a woman leaving for boot camp in two weeks, a woman post mastectomy, a cancer survivor, and more.
After the show, Martin posted a photo to Instagram sharing her awe at making headlines by doing something so normal.
“I can’t believe I am waking up to headlines with me and my daughter doing something I do everyday,” Martin posted. “I’m so grateful to be able to share this message and hopefully normalize breastfeeding.”
From this post, fans bombarded the Monroe, Michigan, native’s Instagram with supportive comments. Although some users believe that the public display was “unnecessary” according to the New York Post, overall the response has been more than positive.
“You are a freaking rock star” wrote Allyn Rose, a finalist who shared the runway with Martin after undergoing a double mastectomy due to breast cancer.
Although public breastfeeding is becoming normalized, strutting down a runway in a gold bikini with a 5-month-old daughter in hand is unheard of. Martin thanked Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editor MJ Day and the entire team for their support in her idea to walk while breastfeeding during her post-show Instagram post.
Martin says the experience is humbling, she is an advocate for many aspiring model moms on her Instagram, posting photos of herself in a swimsuit and with her daughter and often using the hashtag #ModelMom. In her post, the model thanks Sports Illustrated for the freedom to be her true self.
“Because of you, my daughter is going to grow up in a better world,” posted Martin. “Where she can always feel this way.”