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NOW CLOSED Read award winner Hollie McNish’s poem for the Dove Self-Esteem Project: write a verse addressed to your ‘younger self’ and you could win £250

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AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 13-Nov-13 11:05:43

We've been asked by the team at the Dove Self-Esteem Project (DSEP) to share this poem all about how we see ourselves written by award-winning UK poet Hollie McNish.

You can also watch it here:



In case you don't 'know' Hollie she has a young child, lives with her partner, and creates thought provoking poetry to get us thinking about what is important in life. She started writing at the age of 5 before building up courage to do readings at the Poetry Café in London in her early twenties.

Since then, she's been performing around the UK and Europe and running educational poetry days and workshops. Her poetry is mostly straight forward rhyming and in spoken form, inspired a lot by UK hip hop and grime, sixties protest lyrics and everything around her.

Hollie says: "I can't stand living in a place where the first thing we are meant to think about each day is how we look. As if that's the most important thing in life, or the thing that brings us the most happiness."

Dove first came across Hollie's inspirational poem "Wow". This inspired them to get in touch with Hollie and she has now been commissioned to write some poems.

Dove says "Hollie has written two poems for Dove which inspire real women to see themselves in a more positive way. The poems are being shared to create discussion and debate around the insights behind them, and to encourage women to share their own feelings about beauty".

Read her poem called "Big Smacking Kiss" below, which Hollie wrote after a day with her daughter. She says, "I think kids are brilliant and cleverer than adults. They know what actually makes them happy without all the rubbish we are told. They also see their body in functional ways, not something to look at, which is how we are sold it."

Dove would like you to write your own verse and address it to your younger self what would you say if you had the opportunity?

"Big Smacking Kiss" by Hollie McNish

This isnt a fling,
This is every morning,
Half asleep and still yawning
I'm there
Face to face with the mirror
Imagining my skin tighter, lips bigger, bits thinner
Shaking my head at how tired I look
And pushing at eye bags like those are the proof
And theres no one else stood
It's just me
By myself
Wasting my minutes
When I could grab a cup of tea or a book I could finish
When I could find a new tune or run a warm bath
Phone up a friend or laugh at the sight
Of my baby now stood at my side
Smacking the mirror with kisses she's so proud of herself
And she doesn't waste time looking down on herself
But she learns and watched and copies me so well
And I fear for an age she'll start wasting that time
dissecting her skin or her lines or her knees and I plead
with her please dont grow up
Till I swap my cold morning stares
To welcome each day like my daughter greet hers
Press my lips to the glass for a big smacking kiss

Add your verses to this thread and you'll be entered into a prize draw where one winner, picked at random, will win £250 of high street gift vouchers!

For more information on the Dove Self-Esteem Project please visit selfesteem.dove.co.uk or facebook.com/Dove

Thanks

kateandme Fri 15-Nov-13 03:57:13

what happened to you wasnt your fault my young girl
instead of running away from loved ones you should have made your crys heard
for being alone is never a way to deal with things going on
they multiply when your alone theyll tell you your horrid,strange,wrong
but outsdie your closed door there will be a family sat waiting
theyll know something wrong and worried about the route your now taking
one thing happened and it tried to snathc your soul
but with loved one support you can get help to stay whole
you need love you need help you need support in life
to get through the hard time to face good times and strife
so dont ever be alone dont think its your fault when terrible things occur out of your control
your mum would have hugged you she would have mopped your tears as they threaten to make your fold
always seek out other my young self always reach out
dont beleive the thoughts when your at your darkest route
there is so much goodness to have in life my dear
the crap stuff happens and yes they bring fear
but if you lean on others and find the real kindness out there
youll always be armoured with support your always know others can care.

Scheriously Fri 15-Nov-13 04:56:38

You stood in the mirror, and wished the acne away
Then you'd be pretty.
But then it was your nose,
Slightly off, preventing your untold beauty
And not long after it was your cheeks,
Too plump and not a cheekbone in sight,
Followed by your teeth, not quite straight enough to be loved.

Looking back you'll see all the ways you picked yourself apart,
When all that was ever there was all there was ever going to be.
You'll never miss the acne, god no, but that nose was from your Dad
And you'll notice it one day, standing vacant in the bathroom mirror
And then your cheeks
And your slightly wonky teeth, that are hidden under the same lop-sided smile that you remember,
Beaming from his face
And you'll realise, all the little features you hated are from him,
A final gift, a reminder he was really here, a reminder he still is
And that is what is truly beautiful.

Trumpton Fri 15-Nov-13 08:22:27

My body ,my workhorse.
Used to full potential and showing it.
Three babies grown and moving on.
My mother, wise woman, said
Be happy in your skin.
Looking back (will I turn to a pillar of salt?)
And reflecting on what would I tell my younger self?
Be strong , treat your body with respect,
it has to last you all your life.
Never say no to a new experience
Or to new friends.
Tell your children you love them
And tell yourself that you are worthy of love
So love yourself.

BarfaStewart Fri 15-Nov-13 10:07:18

If you don't eat today
then you'll be happy
you'll be able to make it through
If you don't eat today
you'll prove you have willpower
because noone else has a clue

If you don't eat today
you can have pasta tomorrow
you just need to make some room
If you don't eat today
nobody will see you
don't worry, you'll disappear soon

If you don't eat today
you'll lose all that blubber
the stuff you can see on your thighs
If you don't eat today
you'll get that bit paler
isn't it odd how time flies

But, if you don't eat today
your bones will soon crumble
your hair will soon fade and fall out
If you don't eat today
your teeth will loosen
and the voices inside will still shout

If you don't eat today
you won't eat tomorrow
and probably the day after that
If you don't eat today
you're wreaking your whole life
Believe me, you're loved
You're not fat.

mumsbe Fri 15-Nov-13 14:12:00

You are you and no one else
this is what i would tell myself
you are unique and this is good
No need to prove yourself like you think you should
dont change to fit in
this just lets the bullys win
so you are no good at maths
you will follow a different path
art will be a big part of your life
you will have to kids and be a wife
The body issues that bother you everyday
will be a distant memory and go away
enjoy your life. Live for today
Dont let anything get in your way

I want you to know, dear fifteen year old me,
Exactly what my lined eyes can see
The fear in your eyes, the cuts on your arms
You don't know who to trust, you believe the men's charms
I can see the fiery pain you're masking
I can see just what you're asking

I'll answer now, as I couldn't before
You are enough. You're even more.
You don't need to hide, little duckling
You're now a swan. And that means
Not faking, or being anyone's pawn.
It means you can be just what you are
Beautiful, clever, sensitive and pure.

And over time, these arm scars have faded
You're now joyous, strong, faithful - not beaten, not jaded.
I eventually found we are not to meant be hurt
Least of all by our own hand. We must put ourselves first.
So put down the knife and look outside of the bars.
And realise you can choose, the mud or the stars.

fifimcq Fri 15-Nov-13 16:56:00

If I could take a quantum leap,
And find myself talking to a younger me
How happy I would be

I'd smile and cuddle and comfort myself
That in life's trials I will cope
And stress the importance of having hope

My message would be very simple;
Looks will fade and extra weight creep in
But we will always be truly gorgeous within.

Babycarmen Fri 15-Nov-13 17:14:00

I wish I was thinner
Not that girl in the mirror
Her bum is too fat
Her arms flap like that
But who cares, her face is a winner

grin

amaradnas Fri 15-Nov-13 17:23:23

One day you'll be older and greyer
but hey you can pay a
visit to a beauty shop
to buy a drop of miracle 'skin'
to rub in every layer

Your hair will shine
Your face will glow
Your age no-one will every know
But your beauty lies within
So face the world with a big grin!

mrsmonkeybutler79 Fri 15-Nov-13 17:38:10

It's strange how only a child can see
What's beautiful, funny, glorious in me
Even my friends, they judge each other
'Too sad, 'too vain', 'too self absorbed for another'

My son knows me through and through
Perhaps that's because its where he grew
In my eyes he can tell
If I'm content, or faking
If I'm ecstatic, or if I'm breaking
He sees past all else
And thats why, come what may
He'll be my focus
Not my lines and my grey.

Ruby6918 Sat 16-Nov-13 13:01:39

Try not to fret
You little pet
Too many a frown
Can bring you down

Get out and about
Laugh Scream and Shout
Discover what life is about!

Takes chances on life
NO stepford wife
Bye Bye to worry and strife

Get on that plane
Head off to Spain
Because boredom will drive you insane

Don't work in a bank
Your brain will go blank
The bottom of the pile you will rank

Cut down on the wine
For a while you'll feel fine
But believe me you may cross that line

So off you go out
Lets hear you shout!
IM MEEE - and give it some clout

Ruby6918 Sat 16-Nov-13 14:07:12

Try not to fret
You little pet
Too many a frown
May get you down

Take chances on life
NO stepford wife
Bye Bye to worry and strife

Get on that plane
Head off to Spain
Because boredom will drive you insane

Don't work in a bank
Your brain will go blank
The bottom of the pile you will rank

Cut down on that wine
For a while you'll feel fine
But believe me you may cross that line

So off you go out!
Now lets hear you shout!
IM ME - and give it some clout

SaltySeaBird Sat 16-Nov-13 20:13:37

Don't put so much stock into the advice from others
Your passions and likes are not your mothers'
Choose a career that is defined and stable
You are clever and smart, willing and able
Make sure it is based on something you enjoy
Let nothing distract you, especially a boy!

Hopezibah Sat 16-Nov-13 23:16:37

A message to my younger self…
Don’t wish for riches or wisdom but only for health,
Don’t strive for more, but be happy with less.
Too many fools go chasing for wealth,
Better to be happy – be content with yourself.
Keep life simple,
don’t fret over pimples.
Although your weight may go up or down,
Don’t let it be the reason you smile or frown.

Punkatheart Sun 17-Nov-13 00:07:27

The boy you loved, but never loved you
Is now a friend and you love him differently
The punk you were still beats in your heart
There are still times when you are blue

You felt ugly then and despite many things
There is a part of you which will never be satisfied
But you will have adventures, my love
Fine days, strange people and passionate flings

Most of all, there is a child
Curly hair, manic, arms out
It will arrive, in time
But for now, be proud and wild.

DrankSangriaInThePark Sun 17-Nov-13 13:41:04

They wished you health and happiness
Adventures by the score
Everything your heart desired
And then a little more....

They had some advice to give
On the subject of "romance"
They knew that it was far away
But couldn't be left to chance

They did not want to patronise
They knew you weren't a fool
But before you flew to distant lands
They had to stress The Rules

They urged you to be sensible
They said to be secure
They urged a house, a job, a car
And never to be poor.

They said HE should be 30
A nice smile and twinkling eyes
No matter if he was foreign
Didn't care about his size

They said if he was Libran
You knew he'd make you cry
And must not be touched with bargepoles!
You must not even try

Before you went to bed with him
After a month or two....
They asked you for a phonecall
An email would not do

For decisions that momentous
Need all your friends' advice
Exact form of contraception
And position would be nice

They said that covered everything
But before they let you go
They said that friends were always there
And therefore you should know

That if you rang at 2am
Your second morning there
Pissed ridiculous on sangria
Already in despair

To say you were in love with a boy
Long hair and sleep with me eyes
A busker you'd found on the street
They would not be surprised

Of course he was a Libran
And barely 21
You hadn't used a condom
He'd already upped and gone

But then they did wish you adventure
And what are adventures for?
If they don't give you what you want
And then a little more.....

(PS It wasn't quite the second morning, but YKWIM.......) grin

AndHarry Sun 17-Nov-13 17:08:03

I wish I could go back
and tell you you are beautiful.
You were.
You probably are.
I wonder when you will know it?

AndHarry Sun 17-Nov-13 17:22:08

Good grief, these are making me cry. What lovely poems you lot.

mindlessmama Sun 17-Nov-13 19:59:00

Friends drift in and out of your life. Children grow up and move out.
But your body experiences your whole life with you, It deserves more then a prod and a clout.

The hair on your head, the scars on your knee from the time you climbed drunkenly up a tree. The niggly joint, a crick in the neck, the pain you feel when you poke to check.

But the body you have has served you fair, it deserves a bit of loving care. Your skin has sheltered you from day one and will follow you through till the day you are done.

ErrorError Mon 18-Nov-13 13:30:50

When I was a teenager,
My Mother said to me,
"Just do your best and be who you are",
But who did I want to be?

Bullied by the local boys,
I swamped myself in beige.
Wanting to be invisible,
I couldn't wait to age.

"When I'm grown I'll be fine,
happier and thinner.
It's going to be a challenge,
As I really love my dinner."

Now I want to hug that girl,
Stop her wishing her life away.
She'll never be a beauty queen,
but will be beautiful one day.

haikumad Mon 18-Nov-13 15:11:59

This is dedicated to all the fabulous women who find themselves in this position because of illness, circumstance & bad luck:

They used to call Auntie Freda posh

Now she’s lucky if she gets a wash

Dementia and a chemical cosh

Ensure they’ll soon have hands on her dosh

Lilpickle08 Tue 19-Nov-13 14:52:28

You're alright, you know, despite what he says
You're bright, you're funny and you care
But that's the problem
Caring too much about what people think
Who cares?
Because you're beautiful inside and out

And when he tells you you're lazy, ignore him
When he smashes the phone up with a hammer
Know that it isn't you, it's him
You're bright, you're funny and you care
And you're beautiful inside and out

Don't let him erode your self esteem like that
Your friends see you for you, eventually
Because it takes a while for them to see the real you
But they do and they know you're bright and funny
And beautiful, inside and out

And when he tells you to leave home, and go and don't come back
Hold your head up high, and try and leave
With some self esteem intact, if you can
If he hasn't taken it all away
And know, because I'm telling you, that you ARE special
And beautiful and bright and funny

And whilst you might struggle for a bit, you'll do alright in the end
Because you are a good person
But he's taken bits away from you, little by little
And left the scared bits. But know that things will get better
Eventually. The self esteem will come back
Little by little.

So when you look in the mirror, see what I see.
A beautiful young lady with her whole life ahead of her.
Stop cowering in the corner, sneaking looks in the mirror
and hating what you see. Because what you see, isn't what we see
You're bright and you're beautiful inside and out
And you need to know that.

Don't wait for him to tell you, you don't need his validation.
You know deep down, that you're beautiful
Inside and out.
So please start believing that, before it's too late.
Don't let him encroach on your self belief any more.
And know that you are loved.

And that you are beautiful inside and out.

CheeseTMouse Tue 19-Nov-13 15:04:33

Fiercely determined and striving so hard,
nothing is good enough, tears abound.
Yet the only person pressuring you is you.
Trust and believe and be sure in yourself -
you're clever and pretty and strident and strong.
Stop doubting yourself.
Start trusting yourself.
Be kinder to yourself.
Believe in yourself.
You will one day have a daughter who is bright and strong willed yet vulnerable and small.
So look after yourself.
The way you look after her.

majjsu Tue 19-Nov-13 16:52:12

Live life to the full
Don't ever be dull
Don't worry about looking a fright
Be vibrant and light
Have fun
Try not to look overdone
Enjoy every minute
Don't look back at the past
Just have a blast!

Mamafratelli Tue 19-Nov-13 22:04:04

They took a photo at school one day,
And all that I could see
Were double chins and negative things,
I threw that photo away.

My mother begged and pleaded
She wanted me to see,
The beautiful girl with wild red curls,
I threw that photo away.

My mother took those photos
And kept them hidden safe,
She put them in a wooden box,
I couldn't throw them away.

Many years passed
I had children myself,
Beautiful reflections of me.
I threw the photos away.

One day my mother took out the box
She asked me what do you see?
A beautiful girl with bright red curls,
At last I saw it was me.

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