'Walking with Aria just calmed me down': Breastfeeding runway model opens up about experience

Mara Martin on the Sports Illustrated runway

On the weekend, model Mara Martin strutted the Sports Illustrated catwalk in Miami while breastfeeding her five-month-old daughter.

Following the show, Martin couldn’t believe what happened.

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,” she wrote to her 62,000 Instagram followers. “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!”

ALSO SEE: This model breastfed her baby while walking down the catwalk


While response to the post was mostly positive, among the more than 2,000 likes and 33,000 comments there were some negative comments criticizing the 30-year-old mom.

No, you can’t do it all. You lack manners, attention seeking. Leave your kid out of your bad ideas. It was totally unprofessional and ridiculous. It’s not about the breast uncovered, it’s the simple act. It’s not the place to do it and don’t come say you had to feed the baby. That’s a lie. I know what breastfeeding is, I did it for a long time. You acted like a dying model in desperation, used your own child to get attention… Model? Model my ass. Stay at home if you care that much of your baby. Shame on you,” commented one reader.

“Peeing and pooping is natural too, yet we don’t do it in public! There’s a reason we can’t eat solids at a very early age, and a reason we shouldn’t remember being breastfed,” added another.


Martin has yet to respond to the negative comments but her best friend was quick to jump in and defend the model, giving context to Martin’s now-viral fashion moment.

ALSO SEE: CNN anchor wore an adult diaper to interview Ruth Bader Ginsburg

“To the people with negative comments: Mara is my best friend in real life. She spent 12 hours during the casting IN HEELS holding her 20 pound baby during each day of the elimination processes. The crew loved her baby and had even suggested she do one of her walks with her during the show. When it came time to walk, right before the show started, the baby was nursing. 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,” wrote Samantha Montroy Purcell.

“Is it ‘necessary’ to have a woman with a prosthetic leg on the runway? No, but they did it, and that was beautiful too. The whole point of Sports Illustrated doing an open casting was to celebrate all types of women, including moms,” she continued. “And they made it clear where they stand: that moms should be able to feed [their] babies WHENEVER, WHEREVER, and HOWEVER they want to, without taking crap from a bunch of busybody keyboard warriors with nothing better to do than trash someone they know nothing about. Mara is an amazing mother, woman, and friend. She deserves nothing but support.”

Despite Martin’s lack of response to the trolls, she has commented that having her daughter with her on the catwalk helped ease her nerves.


“I was more nervous to be walking the catwalk in general because I’ve never done it before in a bathing suit,” she told Australia’s Today Show. “But walking with Aria just calmed me down because I’m doing what I’m already doing everyday, it’s so natural. As soon as I turned the corner, and walked out and saw the crowd, everyone just went wild, and it was just this moment that I’ll never forget, especially with my daughter.”

Congratulations to Martin and her daughter for their first Sports Illustrated swimsuit show – and for finding the best friend ever!

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