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breastfeeding in public

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Should breastfeeding still be in the news?

American model, Mara Martin, was filmed breastfeeding her infant as she walked down the runway at Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit show. Though, after waking up to seeing her name in headlines, Martin posted an Instagram photo wondering why she was in the news at all.

On Monday, Sports Illustrated shared a video of Martin walking down the runway as she breastfed her baby, who had headphones on to drown out the amount of noise.

Soon after the video was released, the Daily Mail published a story with the headline: “Working mom! Model walks the Sports Illustrated swimsuit runway while breastfeeding five-month-old daughter.” The article was accompanied by several photos.

Martin, herself, posted an Instagram photo that first discussed how amazing it was for her to walk down the runway and how it was a lifelong dream of hers. Though, she added, “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,” she continued. Martin noted how there were women going to boot camp before joining the military, how Allyn Rose had a mastectomy, and how Brenna Huckaby survived cancer and is a two-time Paralympic gold medalist.

Stories like this are always a bit of a curious case because the reactions are so often very split. There are mothers everywhere who support women like Martin who do what’s natural without giving it another thought, and there are people out there who think Martin fed her child for attention (a concept I can’t wrap my head around). The comments on Martin’s photo and Sports Illustrated’s video were a pretty mixed bag of support and condemnation, though the majority of comments commended her.

Despite the need to erase the stigma surrounding breastfeeding, Martin also has a point that her feeding a child doesn’t need to outshine the other women who were there. There’s a reason to think about why this is the kind of story that seemingly trumps all others. Martin had a great point that there were other women there who were accomplishing many things, and why is her child having a meal be the talk of the day?

Of course, it’s not fair to insinuate that Sports Illustrated only published the story to gain attention or clicks. Their caption on the video was “GIRL POWER!” and even if Martin doesn’t see it as a big deal, her breastfeeding on a runway sticks it to the people who think that doing something natural needs to be done behind closed doors. But then a weird cycle starts where if stories like this are constantly made into the news, how will people adapt into thinking that it’s an everyday occurrence?

It may not be seen as a ground-breaking move by Martin, her act was bold to many people and is worth talking about. In a way, breastfeeding her child on the runway made it more natural than people may have initially thought. I agree with Martin that she doesn’t need to be in headlines, but she deserves also be commended for taking care of her baby while pointing out that it’s not newsworthy to be a working mother.