On Sunday, model Mara Martin walked the Sports Illustrated Swim Search show in Miami while breastfeeding Aria, her five-month-old daughter. Mara wore an off-the-shoulder metallic gold bikini; Aria wore noise-cancelling headphones, a diaper, and a green sparkly bikini.
In an Instagram post about the attention she's since received, Mara wrote, “I can’t believe I am waking up to headlines with me and my daughter in them for doing something I do every day.” She added, “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. But to be honest, the real reason I can’t believe it is a headline is because it shouldn’t be a headline!!! My story of being a mother and feeding her while walking is just that."
Sports Illustrated Swim's Instagram page also posted a photograph of Martin standing with Aria in a wide-legged power-stance—illuminated by her gold bikini, her smile, her daughter's presence—smiling at the camera as Aria clings to her. “A moment we’ll never forget,” reads the caption.
And this morning, Martin appeared with Aria on the Today Show. The show’s segment opened with a line that praised both Martin and Sports Illustrated in the message they’ve sent: “Fashion forward, and forward-thinking.”
MJ Day, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue editor, appeared on the Today show to explain that the moment was not even planned. Martin was nursing her baby backstage, was “really hungry.” Day says she asked Martin, “Do you want to just nurse when you walk down the runway?”
Instagram and Twitter users have been showering both Martin and Sports Illustrated with praise. Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, linked an article on Martin and captioned her Tweet, “Love this.”
Other women have also jumped in in to praise Martin.
Sports Illustrated is clearly making an effort to shift its historically homogenous swim model casting—the show also featured models up to size 24.