Attitudes towards boobs in our society are really quite confusing. On the one hand, they're highly sexualised commodities encased in push-up bras and splashed across the media, that exist mainly to please men. At the same time, they're useful objects that prudish prima-donnas want banned from public view when mums breastfeed their babies. As if being a new mum wasn't difficult enough, women have to deal with this double standard every time their baby gets hungry in public. Do they risk offending people in a crowded restaurant, or let the haters win and confine themselves to a public toilet, just in case? British poet and spoken-word artist Hollie McNish tackles this dilemma head on in "Embarrassed", which has been made into a short film. The powerful poem attacks everything from the uneasy contradiction between anti-breastfeeding attitudes and “billboards covered in tits”, to the way baby formula is marketed, despite breast milk being free. McNish teamed up with filmmaker Jake Dypka to visually explore the question: "Why is titillation accepted and sustenance rejected?" You can watch the video below.
The film has gone viral, reportedly receiving more than 6.4 million views in less than a week. It features real breastfeeding women who responded to a callout from McNish. Dypka said of the filming process: "I was unsure how comfortable people would be breast-feeding their babies on camera but it is such a natural thing for a mother to do, all I had to do was avoid trying to direct too much and allow things to be real." The poem is based on McNish's own breastfeeding experience. She wrote it a few years ago in a public toilet after her six-month-old baby fell asleep, she said on her own Youtube channel. "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. Baby's [sic] need breastfed every 2-3 hours often. It's impossible to run home. It's a stupid argument anyway. But I was embarrassed and for six 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." She added: "And now I find it weird that our TVs, media etc never show breastfeeding in soaps, cartoons, anything. That we and the US are so bloody scared of it. It's weird." Hear, hear.