Breastfeeding model recalls the walk from the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit job: ‘It felt natural’

Bikini model Mara Martin is breastfeeding a baby on the runway of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit show in Miami.


Mara Martin made big waves in Miami when they hit the 2018 Sports Illustrated Swim Search fashion show breastfeeding her five-month-old daughter Aria.

The up-and-coming model, dressed in a gold one-shoulder bikini on the catwalk earlier this month as part of the competition and discover the next big star for the coveted magazine. The new mother was chosen as one of 16 finalists for the fashion show.

Martin spoke to Fox News about how it was really fun strutting her stuff, how they cope with the criticism, as well as the special message she has for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover girl (and mother to be) Kate Upton.

Fox News: We often do not see a model who breastfeed their child on the job. What happened?
Mara Martin: Well, I would have to go back to the beginning. There was a Sports Illustrated casting call. I am a new mom, a stay-at-home mom. And my fiance works full-time. So I took her with me, because this has been a dream of mine for a very long time. And SI was OK with me and my daughter.

A post shared by Sports Illustrated Swimsuit (@si_swimsuit) on Jul 16, 2018 5:31 PDT

She was part of the whole process… And everyone got to know her. And then they asked me if I wanted to walk along the path with her, as part of a mommy and daughter watch… She was dressed and happy to go.

However, the show constantly pushed back. So she was really hungry. I started feeding her, as I usually do… no one said anything, but the publisher saw what was going on. She came to me and said: ‘You know, Mara, if you want to continue feeding her and walking on the job, I fully support it. But when she is ready and you don’t want to help her, you can always give her your fiance – what you feel comfortable with. We will support you.’ I kept feeding her and it was my turn to go, so I took her there.

Fox News: Why did you choose to walk down the runway during the breast-feeding to your baby?
Martin: It was never about making an impression with her. The best thing about Sports Illustrated is that they celebrate all different types of women and they want you to be exactly who you are. It just so happens that at this time in my life I am a mother. That is my first and main priority in life. And they celebrate that.

A post shared by Mara Martin (@_maramartin_) on Jul 17, 2017 at 10:09 am PDT

So it was never a trick to get her attention. This is a part of my life now. And breastfeeding is a natural thing for me. I do it every day and I did it around them several times in the casting process. So it was not even a thought. This is something I have done for five months. It felt of course.

Fox News: What was the immediate reaction if you walked to the job?
Martin: When I went out on the track, the audience went wild. And I didn’t know anyone, only my fiance. They were cheering, taking their phones out, calling my name – it was just an exciting feeling. And the fact that I got to share that moment with my daughter was the more beautiful.

Fox News: It’s been reported your daughter you kept quiet. Can you tell us more about that?
Martin: Several times I broke down in tears and cried because I was so overwhelmed by emotions. This was a lifelong dream of mine. I was so emotional throughout the whole process. And then to walk along the track?

A post shared by Mara Martin (@_maramartin_) on Feb 11, 2017 at 1:32pm PST

I have never been a huge show and we do it for SI. And have her there and doing something that I will be with her every day if breastfeeding continue this special bond between mother and daughter.

In that process, there was a sense of peace and tranquility. Just to see her face alone was almost useful *laughs*… just for the show, with all the chaos that was going on, it was like a breath of fresh air having her there with me.

Fox News: Tell us about the next day. What went through your head?
Martin: It felt like a normal day at first. The next day we went home to Key Largo. My fiance went to work and I stayed home with the baby. I don’t really check my phone, because I’m so busy with diapers and a mother *laughs*.

A post shared by Mara Martin (@_maramartin_) on Jul 21, 2018 at 5:24am PDT

So I don’t really notice anything until lunch. I remember calling my fiance at work and told him, ‘Oh my gosh, I think this is really great. Can you check online?’ We were both like “Wait, what’s going on?’ I had no real expectations of this.

Fox News: While many people have praised your appearance, others have slammed shut. How do you deal with the criticism?
Martin: I have not had the chance to really see the criticism or react to something not yet. But I think if people in general, we all have the right to our own opinion. And it’s OK if you don’t agree with me or what I do.

The only thing I ask is for people to stay positive and not to mean much. It really is not necessary. It was a positive experience for me.

GIRL POWER! ?? #SISwimSearch Sweet 16 finalist Mara walks the runway during the breast-feeding her five-month-old baby. @paraisofashionfair

A post shared by Sports Illustrated Swimsuit (@si_swimsuit) on Jul 15, 2018 at 7:38pm PDT

Fox News: were you surprised that Sports Illustrated openly embraced both you and your baby?
Martin: No, actually. [Edit] MJ Day and the whole staff, but they are to celebrate and embrace women of different shapes, different sizes and different backgrounds, but they support the women for who they are.

Fox News: do you think we will ever see a mother breastfeeding on the pages of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit?
Martin: I’m not sure, but I am in full support of normalizing breastfeeding in the general… I hope normalization happens, because it is really a natural thing. Whether women choose to breastfeed, that is their choice. But we need to be able to choose when we want to do and how.

Fox News: What would it mean for you to be on the pages of Sports Illustrated?
Martin: … It feels great to be the face of the normalizing of breastfeeding all over the world, but I just want to be in the magazine *laughs*. This is what we went for to begin with. This is a lifelong dream of mine to be in the pages of the magazine. I just hope that we can continue with the contest.

I am excited to see what the next step would be. But it would mean a lot for me just to continue, because this is really my ultimate dream… But I’ve been told that SI my daughter is my first priority. If they are good to go, then I’m good to go. I am always thinking of her first.

#PregnantinMiami @justinverlander ?❤️

A post shared by Kate Upton (@kateupton) on Jul 14, 2018 at 6:19am PDT

Fox News: you Have a chance to meet Kate Upton at the fashion show?
Martin: I see her in passing and I was so impressed by her beauty. Just the fact that they are in the same room as me? I was just too nervous to say anything. But if she does read this, congratulations! If you need help with mom tips, I’m your girl to call.

Fox News: How is your daughter handling all of the attention?
Martin: Honestly? She is sweet. It’s almost like they love the camera *laughs*. I wish she would have been awake and not eating. Because if she would have been awake, she would be his loving attention. She is always smiling to the cameras and can tell where they are. I think it would have been a much nicer photo!

A post shared by Sports Illustrated Swimsuit (@si_swimsuit) on Jul 16, 2018 10:01 PDT

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.

Most popular