Female empowerment looks different for many people - but for supermodel Mara Martin, it’s nothing of the ordinary.
The Sports Illustrated star broke the internet in 2018 after walking the runway while breastfeeding her one-month-old daughter, truly shattering glass ceilings and breaking the mold of beauty and stereotypes.
As a career woman and a mother, Mara brought both of these parts of the life to the runway as she strutted down the catwalk while doing the most normal thing ever - breastfeeding.
Needless to say, she went viral around the world, and soon after, became a figurehead for women’s rights and breastfeeding advocacy.
Mara - a model mom and a role model mom - started a revolution of celebrities opening up about their breastfeeding journeys and all elements of motherhood.
From Cardi B to Ashley Graham, Mara’s actions undoubtedly have inspired a movement.
Although she turned heads and started an important conversation after the deed, Mara’s work didn’t stop there.
She continues to be a champion for mothers everywhere who struggle to find balance, work and family flow, time for themselves, and may put their own mental and physical health on the backburner to prioritize other tasks that support their families.
But can women really have it all? According to Mara - absolutely, yes! With the help of her tips and tricks, which she shared exclusively with GLAMOUR, start establishing balance and feel your best self in all of your roles in life.
You came to public attention during your Sports Illustrated catwalk turn breastfeeding on the runway!
Take us back through the moment and how looking back it changed your life and also opened up a social dialogue that is still as important now as it was then?
That moment is still one of the craziest stories. I was five months postpartum when I heard of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’s first ever in-person open casting call.
Being 45 minutes away from the casting, I knew I had to go. I had been a model prior to becoming a mother and was getting the itch to get back out there, and like any model, SI is always one of those pipe dream jobs that you want to book.
The day of the casting, my babysitter had canceled so I took my then 5 month old daughter, Aria, with me. To my surprise there were thousands of girls waiting in line to be seen.
I told myself that if any point Aria was fussy, we would leave. Being the dream baby she was, she was happy and soaked up all the attention from the other girls there.
We made it through to the editor, MJ Day, after a few hours had gone by. I left that casting and felt so accomplished just getting through it; Spending over 10 hours in heels, with a diaper bag, holding a baby, and putting myself out there in a bikini 5 months postpartum was a feat of its own.
That night we had got the call that we were asked back to the next round of interviews. From thousands of girls to 65 to then 16, I was chosen to walk in the coveted runway show!
After I got ready for the show, I anxiously sat backstage waiting for my lifelong dream to be fulfilled.
I was initially going to walk my first look with Aria (if she was happy and awake) but the show kept getting pushed back by almost 2 hours.
Aria became hungry and tired, and because she was exclusively breastfed, I began to feed her backstage.
The lights and music began to start as I was feeding her. It was showtime. At that moment, I had a five second conversation with the editor MJ, and she said she supported me if I wanted to continue to do the show while I breastfed.
It was either step out of line or walk with her (taking her off while she was hungry and tired was never an option for me) .... so, I decided to go for it.
I walked as I breastfed her down the runway and came back and finished feeding and bouncing her to sleep before my change into my next look.
I did not think much of it at the time because breastfeeding was such a normal everyday thing for me as a new mother, so when the next day came and we received so much positive feedback around the world, I was in complete shock.
That moment was of course about normalizing breastfeeding, but also showed women that we can work and pursue our dreams even after becoming mothers, and that we should love and be confident with our postpartum bodies and celebrate all that our bodies can do.
That moment opened so many doors for us and gave me a platform to use my voice. It’s incredible to be able to see what that moment did for so many women then and now too.
celebrities like Ashley Graham candidly discuss breastfeeding and Rachel McAdams pump in a major magazine editorial and other celebrities like CardiB and Hillary Duff open up about motherhood and its challenges, all after our runway walk was amazing.
That walk ignited a greater conversation for mothers everywhere. Companies and brands like Adidas and Rebecca Minkoff started showing breastfeeding mothers in their campaigns, and to know that it all started and was inspired by our runway walk is pretty incredible.
How much do you define balance? And how as a mom, model and wife how do you do it all?
I always say there is no such thing as balance; I like to use the term juggling instead. I juggle my life in a way that I am able to fill the many roles we as women take on in life.
I think when you use the term balance the idea that every aspect of life has to be perfectly allotted the same amount of priority is daunting because it is not reasonable or attainable.
Some days you will spend more time working, others might be more hands on with your child, and that’s okay. We as mothers and women are multifaceted and everyone has their own definition of “doing it all” or “having it all”.
For some that may be being a stay home mom, others it might be working in corporate America.
Whatever your “all” is, knowing that you can have it if you’re able to juggle and prioritize what you want in life, is really key.
What is your typical workout regimen weekly, and how has it evolved amid the pandemic?
For me it has definitely been chasing my 3-year-old around! It’s amazing how these tiny little humans are so incredibly fast and can get into so many things if you’re not quick!
I’ve also been taking advantage of the many social media platforms that have offered live workouts that you can do in the comfort of your own home during the pandemic.
It's great how so many different brands and communities have rallied together to offer ways to workout and stay moving during this tough time.
Sometimes I might not have the time to be able to do full workouts that some offer, but I always say that doing something is better than doing nothing!
What part of your body are you most confident with / do you love to emphasize in outfits, and how do you strengthen it / why do you love it?
It’s crazy because the things I love most about myself now were the things I hated growing up. I love my height and long legs so much now.
I remember slouching so much when I was younger to try and fit in and be like everyone else. But me being 6 feet tall now makes me feel confident and strong and I love having a presence when I walk in a room.
I also love my green eyes and lips. I try to accentuate my eyes by playing around with different makeup to make them pop even more.
And my lips I’m proud of because in a world that’s full of cosmetic surgery and crazy filters, it makes me feel good that I like what I see when I look in the mirror.
As a public figure, you inevitably open your life up to criticism. How do you not let those remarks way you down? If / when they do, what do you do to maintain your mental health?
I really like to focus on the positives that come from being in the public eye. Through social media, I’ve been able to create an amazing support system that started out as “Instagram followers”, but quickly became our second family and friends.
But of course, there are always people trying to tear you down or criticize what you do.
First and foremost, I try and not read or engage in the negativity, but I am human and sometimes they affect me more than I would like to admit.
When that happens, I lean on the amazing support system I mentioned earlier and quickly realize that no one’s opinion of how I run my life matters but my own.
I know that I am doing my very best to be a good mother and a good person, and that’s all that matters.
I think it took me a long time to understand that not everyone is always going to like you or agree with me, and that’s ok.
A lot of people have been missing their favorite self-care rituals during the lockdown. What have you been doing at home to make up for this?
I’m a mom to a 3-year-old; what’s self-care! In all reality, I know for me it is really hard to find the time to practice self-care.
If I have the time, I can come up a million other things I can do for other people and my daughter rather than spend that time on myself.
I think a lot of times women and especially mothers feel that way. But if lockdown has taught me anything, it’s taught me that we do need to have some time to ourselves to recharge and do what makes you feel good.
For some people that might be going to a spa and for others it could just be as simple as going for a walk, but either way I am trying to practice more of that in my daily life because I know how important it is to recharge my battery as well.
What projects are you working on right now, and what can we look forward to seeing from you this year?
I have been working on a ton of little projects over the last couple of years that took a back seat when Covid hit. So, I’m saying it now, I am excited for 2021 because I think I’ll finally be able to see the hard work pay off and my projects come into fruition.
You’ll be seeing a lot of me this year! I’m hoping 2021 is my break out year!