Swimsuit model speaks out over her decision to breastfeed while walking down the runway

Swimsuit model speaks out over her decision to breastfeed while walking down the runway

At a Sports Illustrated swimsuit show in Miami, Mara Martin strutted down the catwalk while breastfeeding her six-month-old daughter, Aria. She wore a sparkling gold bikini with the top pulled down to one side so she could nurse, and gave Aria soundproof headphones to protect her ears from the noise. The stunning video made international headlines, and people applauded the model for normalizing breastfeeding. Sadly, many mothers still get shamed for feeding their babies in public.

"Wow! WHAT A NIGHT!" wrote Mara on Instagram. "Words can’t even describe how amazing I feel... 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!"

Mara received overwhelming praise from many supporters, but also drew nasty criticism. On social media, some people called her "disgusting," accused her of"attention-seeking" and speculated that the whole thing was a desperate "publicity stunt." "What's next, viewing people on the toilet?" scoffed one Facebook user. "That's natural too."

Mara's friend, Samantha Purcell, posted a message on Facebook revealing the true story. "When it came time to walk, right before the show started, the baby was nursing," wrote Samantha. "The editor suggested she just go for it and take the baby with her. It wasn't planned; she actually texted me freaking out right afterwards to tell me what had happened. There is nothing wrong with it. The baby was hungry. End of story."

This week Mara appeared on Good Morning Britain, and spoke about her decision to breastfeed while dominating the runway.  "It was an organic moment," said Mara, as reported by The Daily Mail. "The show was being pushed back and I was feeding her. I'm so glad it started this conversation worldwide. It's an awesome conversation starter of normalizing breastfeeding, body positivity and being comfortable in your own skin. If you guys have a dream don't let anything get in the way of it."

In a clip of the interview posted on Twitter, Mara said that everyone has the right to their opinion on breastfeeding in public, but for her, this was a very "positive, empowering moment." The negativity and cynicism from keyboard warriors has not affected her. The baby was hungry, and she was feeling confident about her postpartum body, and that was that.

Some Twitter users continued to parrot the same tired criticism, but I suppose it could be worse. At least they're not threatening to punch breastfeeding mothers and their babies in the face, like that South Carolina woman. Thanks to Mara's decision, the natural act of breastfeeding may be seen as less of a social taboo.