This Debate About A Model Breastfeeding Her Baby On The Catwalk Highlights An Unfair Stigma
Sports Illustrated held its 2018 Swim Search show on Sunday night, an annual event featuring a diverse group of models from across the United States. Sunday's lineup of 16 models included an American snowboarder with a prosthetic leg, a security guard at a chemical plant, and a former maid, to name a few. But the most talked about person from the show might be this model who breastfed her baby on the catwalk. Although most parents are praising the mom's bold move, some people are outraged by the display. And as expected, the reason for the backlash is pretty unfair.
Mara Martin, a model and mom from Michigan, took to Instagram on Sunday to announce she secured a spot in Sports Illustrated 2018 Swim Search show. "The face you make when your mom makes it to the final 16 of the @si_swimsuit Swim Search," Martin captioned an adorable shot of herself with her 5-month-old daughter, Aria, according to Instagram. "Im so so so thankful for the entire team at sports illustrated for picking me ... "
Little did Martin's followers know that she'd strut down the catwalk with Aria in tow just a few hours later. And luckily for Martin's most dedicated supporters, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit's Instagram account shared a video of the breathtaking moment. The best part? Martin had a bunch of people cheering her on as she simultaneously rocked a gold swimsuit and breastfed Aria.
Shortly after the stunning moment hit the internet, a debate emerged about whether Matin's actions were appropriate. *Insert eye roll here*
"Wth, not the time or place for that," one person argued, according to Instagram. "Should be private, not everything belongs on social media."
" ... it's a swim suit show. Not a strip club, if a girl did that at a strip club y'all would call it child abuse," another person said. "Is it any different here?"
"That's just stupid, the baby could have waited 30 seconds to be fed," someone else said.
Clearly, these comments are problematic because they promote harmful stigmas about breastfeeding. The idea that breastfeeding should be done in "private" insinuates there's something sexual about the act. But as most parents can agree, there's absolutely nothing sexual about a person breastfeeding their child, no matter where it might take place. Martin did nothing wrong or harmful when she breastfed Aria on the runway, period.
The good news is most people are in Martin's corner.
"I love this! All the haters saying why....but yet when a swimsuit model is top less they don’t judge, one person penned. "She’s doing something perfectly natural and beautiful! That’s a real woman!"
"This is so beautiful. With all the terrible, violent things going on in this world. Kids committing suicide... war being waged. People starving... this is the LAST thing people should be outraged by," someone else added. "Women are so amazing! All praise to every mom out there sacrificing for their children."
And one particularly passionate commenter argued:
For those of you asking “WHY????” The swimsuit issue is meant to 1. Showcase female beauty and 2. Sell swimsuits. First, what is more beautiful than a mother giving life to her child???? And second, there are PLENTY of REAL MOMS out there who will love to see how certain swimsuits work with breastfeeding and taking care of babies, and will be a new market to buy those suits. Ease of use, comfort, and practicality are the new standards for suits! Swimsuit Illustrated is gaining exposure, support, and new patrons from this; the woman featured is getting a career boost from being a UNIQUE, empowering model, and ALL of us benefit from seeing breastfeeding glorified and normalized! That is “WHY” this is happening. And if you can’t understand that, you may have issues with critical thinking
On that note, congrats to Martin on her Sports Illustrated debut. It's beyond incredible that Martin used her moment in the spotlight to normalize breastfeeding, and her work to empower fellow parents shouldn't be ignored.