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Mara Martin was chosen as one of the Sports Illustrated Swim Search finalists just five months after giving birth.

Sports Illustrated named the young mom one of its Sweet 16 finalists during a model search in Miami. But Martin took balancing motherhood and work to another level when she walked the runway while breastfeeding her 5-month-old baby.

The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Instagram account shared a video of Martin with her baby cradled in her arms, nursing away, with the comment "GIRL POWER!"


Reactions to the video were predictably mixed, but Martin's response to the attention deserves a standing ovation.

Some people felt that seeing a mom breastfeeding unabashedly in public — while doing her job — was an empowering statement. Others, unsurprisingly, found it icky/gross/unattractive/etc. Some simply called it a silly publicity stunt.

But Martin's response to the media frenzy proves that she's just as badass as her fans made her out to be and not just because she fed her baby in an unconventional place.

First, Martin took to Instagram to first explain how breastfeeding is totally normal.

"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 wrote. "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!"

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. 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! 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. Last night there are far more deserving headlines that our world should see. One woman is going to boot camp in two weeks to serve our country (sorry i don’t know your IG handle 🤦🏽‍♀️), one woman had a mastectomy (@allynrose), and another is a cancer survivor, 2x paralympic gold medalist, as well as a mother herself (@bren_hucks you rock) Those are the stories that our world should be discussing!!!! Just thinking about all that was represented there... I desperately need to give the most thanks to @mj_day for this. She supported me in what I did last night. Without her support this wouldn’t even be discussed!!!! She and the entire Sports Illustrated family are the most amazing and incredible team to have worked with. 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!!!!!! Lastly, to every single woman that rocked that runway with me. Be proud. I know I am of you! You all have inspired me in ways unimaginable. I love you all!!! #siswimsearch

A post shared by Mara Martin (@_maramartin_) on

"But to be honest, the real reason I can’t believe it is a headline is because it shouldn’t be a headline!!!" she continued. "My story of being a mother and feeding her while walking is just that."

We may not be used to seeing a model on the runway nursing a baby, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be done. For many breastfeeding moms, nursing on-the-go is a way of life, and not something that needs to be hidden away from the public eye.

Then she directed the attention away from herself and placed it on her deserving colleagues.

"Last night there are far more deserving headlines that our world should see," Martin wrote, before describing the incredible women she shared the stage with. "One woman is going to boot camp in two weeks to serve our country (sorry i don’t know your IG handle 🤦🏽‍♀️), one woman had a mastectomy (@allynrose), and another is a cancer survivor, 2x paralympic gold medalist, as well as a mother herself (@bren_hucks you rock) Those are the stories that our world should be discussing!!!!"

Indeed, some of the women in the Sweet 16 are impressive women. Allyn Rose chose to have a double mastectomy after losing her mother and grandmother to breast cancer, and she gave a TED Talk on "The Power of Redefining Breasts." Brenna Huckaby is a cancer survivor who has won two gold medals in the Paralympics, and is a finalist for ESPN's Athlete with a Disability ESPY award.

Kudos to Mara Martin not only for breastfeeding on the runway but for shining the spotlight on those who have done more consequential things than simply feed a hungry baby.

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