Interview with Hollie McNish
There are a lot of articles, books, magazines, informational flyers about Public Breastfeeding. They do a pretty good job on promoting and educating mothers and all our society about breastfeeding.
Yet, we are still not where we should be.
Good news. There is a spoken word artist and poet whose words are so powerful, it demolishes any other forms of information.
Hollie McNish wrote her poem "Embarrassed" while sitting on the toilet in the public bathroom and breastfeeding her child.
This poem will touch everybody, including:
You can find the words for this poem here.
Interview with Hollie
It seems you were pretty upset and tired of the public breastfeeding issue when you wrote “Embarrassed”. What was the last drop that filled the glass to write this poem?
Sitting on a stinking toilet with a poster of a local hiphop club night in front of me. The girl was in a bikini, I was sat on a toilet with a baby. I don't mind the girl in the bikini, but it made me think 'what the f am I doing. My partner was also very against the toilet thing, but sometimes, it felt easier to find somewhere private. Not a toilet next time tho. He was such support.
Your message and response in “Embarrassed” is very clear on how you feel about public breastfeeding.What would you say to the person who tells you to stop breastfeeding in a restaurant?
I don't feed anymore, I fed my daughter till she was 2. In a way I wish I had posted it when I was still feeding. If someone said that, I would ask them to explain why. Put them on the spot, don't just tell them to f off. Ask them to explain. Then tell them your baby is eating. Many people I know tell them to take their own dinner to the toilet.
Did you ever feel fully comfortable breastfeeding in public?
I think I did in certain places. Glastonbury Festival was one of them.
Outdoors I did more, I think mainly also because you're less worried in
general about making a mess outdoors! In the park. And at cafes that
are obviously family friendly, whether they have a wendy house or just a
box of kids books to show you you're welcome.
How do you see a breastfeeding mother in a restaurant after 10 years? Will we still talk about it?
I bloody hope not. I think one of the problems is people feel bad if they feel awkward and a lot of people say 'it makes people feel awkward' as a reason not to allow it. That's crazy, awkwardness is ok! We feel awkward about loads of stuff. It doesn't mean we should stop doing it! The more I think about it, the more ridiculous it seems. But our breastmilk is free. And capitalist society doesn't like free stuff when they could be making money. I think that is the biggest and main cause of the entire problem.
What will it take to normalize breastfeeding in public?
Show it. Most breastfeeding isn't in cafes etc because most mums are mostly not in cafes! I think part of the issue is when we say breastfeeding in public is fine, it doesn't mean everyone wants to feed in public. Someone asked me - why would you go to a restaurant to feed? A lot of people think that. The thing is just to feed wherever you are. But unless mums on tv, magazines etc are shown breastfeeding it won't be seen as normal. Even cartoon animals on kids cartoons bottle feed. Now that is weird.!
Poetry is your passion. Many mothers struggle to proceed their dreams while their kids are still little. They often say.... “when the kids grow little older or once I retire.” Tell us - how do you do it? How do you find time to write a poem?
"I have help, that's it. And I don't sleep. I work all the time to be honest. My partner works a part time job and so do I. I am with my daughter 3 days a week, so is he. And Grandmas help a huge amount. We share weekends and I often take her to gigs with me. I couldn't do it without being able to work shifts, part-time and share it with my partner. Never. We have always split things. We do alternate nights bedtime, so we get alternate evenings to work or relax - mainly work! I don't know how people manage full time either way. I'm really lucky to have a balance. Saying that, I'm up till 2am a lot of nights working! I'm tired!"
Popular poems by Hollie
"Mathematics" by Hollie McNish
"Foreign" by Hollie McNish
Do you want more of Hollie?
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