Hollie McNish
Hollie McNish

Here’s a lovely thing, which is also an angry thing and a hopeful thing too. The poet Hollie McNish has written, performed and filmed this poem called “Embarrassment,” concerning her experiences when first breast-feeding her daughter in public.

As is often the way, the mere fact that a person would be seen doing a thing that isn’t what other people are doing drew furtive glances, unpleasant stares, and even an unkind comment, as Hollie explains on her YouTube post: “I wrote this poem in a public toilet after my 6 month old baby fell asleep. I was in town on my own a lot with her and the first time I fed her someone commented that I should stay home.”

“I was embarrassed and for 6 months took her into toilets when I was alone without the support of boyfriend, friends, mum etc. I hate that I did that but I was nervous, tired and felt awkward. And now I find it weird that our TVs, media etc never show breastfeeding in soaps, cartoons, anything. That we and the U.S. are so bloody scared of it. It’s weird.”

So, in response, and for all young mums who find themselves shamed into hiding away at feeding time, she created this poem, which has already reached nearly 300,000 views in just a few days:

Hollie went on to openly question attitudes towards public breast-feeding, especially when breast milk is so healthy for new babies, boosting their immune systems and so on: “I find our culture weird and even weirder, when people are so strapped for cash. It is costing parents a huge amount of money paying for something which most of us, those of us who are lucky enough for our bodies to do so, get for free. I have a lot of mates who complain they’re broke but stop breastfeeding cos they feel awkward, and pay for formula.”

Still, at least they’re not making busybodies with nothing better to do feel mildly uncomfortable. That’s consideration for you.

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Filed Under: Hollie McNish, Poetry
By Fraser McAlpine