Mom Tackles Breastfeeding Stigma in Viral Spoken-Word Video: 'No More Will I Sit on These Cold Toilet Lids'

Hollie McNish's poem about breastfeeding tackles the stigma around feeding you child in video "Embarrassed"


Another mother is standing up for the right to breastfeed her children in public without feeling shamed – and she’s using poetry to do it.

British poet and spoken-word artist Hollie McNish’s “Embarrassed,” a powerful collaboration with Independent Films, has quickly gone viral. The video (which is slightly NSFW for language) pairs McNish’s words with clips of women and babies, as well as imagery of how the female body is portrayed and viewed.

“I thought it was okay, I could understand the reasons,” McNish kicks off the piece. “They said, there might be a man or a nervous child seeing this small piece of flesh that they weren’t quite expecting.”

McNish laments having to use “discretion” to breastfeed her child, hidden away in dirty bathrooms and sometimes not leaving the house at all.

Now, she says, “The more I go out, the more I can’t stand it. I walk into town feel I’m surrounded by bandits. In this country of billboards covered in t—…. In a country of low-cut tops cleavage and skin … I desperately try to take all of this in.”

She also addresses the sale of pre-made formula, saying, “Nothing is free in this money-fueled life, which is fine if you need it, if you need to use bottles … in towns where pennies are savored like sweets, we end up paying for one thing that’s always been free.”

McNish concludes, “No more will I sit on these cold toilet lids, no matter how embarrassed I feel as she sips.”

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McNish’s sentiment is similar to photographer Leilani Rogers, who founded the Public Breastfeeding Awareness Project in 2013 to normalize women nursing in public.

“With an excessive amount of focus on the sexual function of the female body, we don’t consider breastfeeding as a physiological need when we round the corner at the grocery store and find a breastfeeding woman standing right there,” Rogers recently told PEOPLE. “We rush to judgment.”

Rogers’ project united 70 photographers from around the world in capturing images of breastfeeding. The goal? She said, “I hope people will begin to separate breastfeeding from exposing oneself. They are not the same thing.”

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