Model mom puts breast foot forward as she nurses baby on the runway
An American model has made a splash by breastfeeding her baby daughter on a Miami catwalk - no small gesture in a world where many women still feel uncomfortable nursing in public.
Walking the runway at a Sports Illustrated swimsuit show on Sunday, Mara Martin stepped out in a sparkling gold bikini while breastfeeding five-month-old Aria, kitted out for the occasion in green swimwear and noise-cancelling headphones.
In an Instagram post a day later, Martin expressed thanks for the overwhelmingly positive public response - which far outweighed the smattering of posts on her social media feed criticising the move as "not appropriate" or even "gross."
"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 normalise breastfeeding and also show others that women CAN DO IT ALL!"
According to Martin and organisers interviewed on Tuesday on NBC's Today, it was a spontaneous decision to breastfeed Aria on the runway.
"She was getting a little hungry and it was her dinner time, because the show kept getting pushed back," Martin told Today.
So when one of the team suggested she go ahead and nurse her on the runway, she said yes.
The debate over public breastfeeding sporadically resurfaces in South Africa, where women are strongly encouraged to nurse their babies, despite the fact some members of society remains squeamish about the practice of doing so in public.
Local restaurant group Spur was recently praised on social media for actively encouraging breastfeeding at their branches.
“Spur is a family-friendly restaurant‚ which places a great amount of emphasis on families‚ especially children; hence breastfeeding is welcomed at Spur‚” reads their official policy.
It adds: “No one may ask the women to cover up the act of breastfeeding‚ or ask women to breastfeed in a designated area [different] to the area they have chosen.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding until the age of six months, and partial breastfeeding for two years or more.
• Additional reporting staff reporter.