You might recognize the name from headlines around the world. Mara Martin, a new mother to Aria, turned many heads as she strut down the Sports Illustrated’s Rookie of the Year runway search. An act that captivated people everywhere, was simply a normal event in motherhood. The moment wasn’t suppose to be a spectacle but breastfeeding in the USA can still create a stir. Many women face a lot harsher criticism nursing in public despite it being legal in all 50 states as of July 2018. Here we chat with Mara about the runway, nursing, and the support she feels on this new endeavor.
SHEFIT: So everyone has been talking about the Sports Illustrated runway moment, did you expect it to get this huge?
MARA MARTIN: The moment itself was completely unplanned so we had no expectations before or after it. I took her to the open call casting because I did not have a babysitter, and being a former model, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit was a lifelong dream of mine. Then when they narrowed down the girls from thousands to 16 who got to walk in the runway show, I was beyond thrilled to say the least. The show kept getting pushed back and I was feeding her backstage, the editor happened to see me and asked if I wanted to just take her out as I fed her. And without hesitation I said yes. During that moment and the night after we didn’t think anything of it. We actually went home right after the show and my fiancé, Ryan, went to work the next day like any other day and I stayed home and did my typical mom routine. When I heard the next day that a video had gone viral and people were trying to interview me from every outlet, we were in shock. We still are! But I will say one thing, it may not have been planned but I’m so beyond grateful to be the driving force in normalizing breastfeeding. If it has impacted just one mother, then it was worth it!
SF: How did you feel comfortable doing something out of the norm socially to do it so publicly?
MM: I find breastfeeding to be such a natural thing for me. And in a way breastfeeding her backstage gave me such a calm feeling. I was nervous as it was to walk in a bikini, 5 months postpartum, for my dream brand, so having her backstage with me really eased my nerves.
SF: Have you had any personal struggles while breastfeeding in public?
MM: I have got the occasional stares or dirty looks but nothing too crazy. After I received such an overwhelming amount of support, I can see that a lot of mothers have experienced much worse. To be able to have that moment resonate with so many is extremely empowering.
SF: While it wasn’t designed as a nursing bra, the Ultimate has been a game-changer to new mothers. How has it helped you?
MM: IT HAS BEEN AMAZING! I can’t express how much easier it has been for me to be able to feed her. The zipper in the front is such a perfect thing. I have actually been using it as my nursing bra even more than when I work out! The ones they have out have clips and hooks and it’s almost more of a hassle than anything. Especially now that she’s a little older and gets distracted, I don’t have time to clip and hook. This bra has been hassle free for me and I’m obsessed.
SF: Transitioning back into working out while nursing must be difficult. Has the Ultimate Sports Bra lived up to it’s name?
MM: It’s been really hard for me. Breastfeeding in general has its challenges, and I almost used it as an excuse at first because it was just another challenge that added to it all. I would only be able to work out certain times around her feeding schedule because I didn’t want to have to strip down to feed. With the Ultimate Sports Bra, I can either use the zipper or literally just pull down a strap to feed. It has become so easy and routine for me that I use this bra as a regular bra. I know it wasn’t the intention, but it’s too good. It feels like it was designed for us nursing moms.
SF: Where do you find your support throughout this new journey of motherhood?
MM: I have really found it helpful to lean on other mothers in this new phase of my life. Finding a good support team that gets what you’re going through is so key. Being a mother is one of the greatest equalizers as no matter where you come from, we are all going through similar things!
To stay up to date on Mara, check out her Instagram @_maramartin_