A swimsuit model’s unexpected runway appearance is going viral. Mara Martin took the catwalk by storm when she made her grand entrance — while breastfeeding her 5-month-old infant daughter, Aria. It all happened rather spontaneously during Miami Swim Week at the Paraiso x SI Swimsuit show.
Before taking the stage, Mara realized Aria was getting hungry and fussy. It was around her dinner time and she hadn’t yet eaten as the show was running late. One of the event organizers suggested Mara simply nurse her baby down the runway, and the working mom thought it was a great idea — albeit one the attendees had never seen before.
Mara dazzled the crowd with her gold two-piece, and baby Aria looked adorable in her protective headphones. The next morning, Mara was shocked to wake up and find the internet abuzz. Not only was walking the Sports Illustrated runway her lifelong dream, but now she was at the center of many headlines.
In her now-viral Instagram post, Mara explained that she was only one of 16 finalists who made an appearance at the SI Swimsuit show, and the fact she breastfed Aria should be taking a backseat to the other inspiring models. For example, two of her fellow swimsuit models are cancer survivors, one of whom is a Paralympic gold medalist and the other a member of the military.
She also praised MJ Day, editor of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue: “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!”
While much of the feedback was supportive and positive, Mara has been facing her fair share of criticism. Some people have even called her runway breastfeeding “inappropriate” and “gross.”