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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

(78 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread.

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 or


Theimpossiblegirl Wed 13-Nov-13 14:12:42

Looking in the mirror
I wish I was thinner
Wiser- then I wouldn't care.

Theimpossiblegirl Wed 13-Nov-13 14:13:51

Not great but I thought I'd break the ice by lowering the bar a bit- love Hollie's poem.

vladthedisorganised Wed 13-Nov-13 14:40:17

"Oh, man, I'm fat"
The phrase slips out
As easily as the size six skirt slips on.
On your side of the mirror, you scowl
And fling on your baggiest sweater;
Your usual disguise.
Put on some makeup, sigh, and shuffle off,
Wishing someone had made you that bit taller.

"Oh man, I'm old"
The sort of phrase
I know that I use all too much these days.
On this side of the mirror, I squint
At crows' feet and grey hairs that have snuck in.
I fling on my baggy sweater;
It hides the spills and stains the baby left.
Should wear some makeup, but I shuffle off
Wishing I'd had another hour's sleep.

"That looks all right"
For there does come a time
When that reflection looking back might smile:
The face still holds expression (and can do
That cross-eyed thing that makes the baby laugh)
A shape that's not so bad, considering.
And most of all, your eye
For that red dress, reduced twice in the sale
"Not bad for twenty quid"
And satisfied, you can't resist a grin.
Believe me, that reflection does exist.

Ennistonblue Wed 13-Nov-13 16:03:25

Look at you, hiding.
Twenty years from now,
You will love your body.

Not as you imagine it -
starved, stretched, transformed.
This is not the body of your dreams.

This is the body of your life.
Twenty years, six lovers and two children later,
With hair on your upper lip,
With a belly that sags,
And breasts that droop,
You will love your body.

Nerfmother Wed 13-Nov-13 18:55:26

A word of advice
From (me as) your mother:
It’s a long, long time this side
Of everything you’ll do
And some scars can’t be covered
By that bloody horrible tattoo.
Stop thinking about everything
And start thinking about you
It’s not about the cool kids
It’s about the faithful few
Cigarettes and cider are just a thing
(It’s fun; you’re young
You give them up by twenty two)
But darling.
If I could march you back up town
And sit you by that bed
This time I would tell you
Say goodbye, daddy is still a long time dead.

KeemaNaanAndCurryOn Wed 13-Nov-13 19:06:57

Dear me so many years ago
when I didn't know
the things that I know now.
When time was spent
in unrelenting doubt
and thoughts about
the ways that I was wrong
and badly made.

Such beautiful yet critical eyes
about my size
my hair, my skin,
my distorted vision.
The self derision, I remember still.

Dear me, with age you'll see
perfection isn't being thin
or blemish free
it comes from being comfortable
in your own skin.
It's from within
not some false idol in a magazine.
touched up and toned down

Dear me
Beauty is more than skin deep.
Believe me.
I am you.

iklboo Wed 13-Nov-13 19:53:31

DON'T listen to him, young me, close your ears
His insults are playing on all your worst fears
You're not fat or ugly or stupid or minging
There's nothing wrong with your or dancing or singing
You're not an embarrassment, you're not a disgrace
There's nothing wrong with your body or face
It's him who's inadequate, he's not really all that
He'll keep on treating you like a doormat
Finish it, dump him, show him the door
Tell him you won't take his crap anymore
Look in the mirror, believe what you see
You're a sexy young woman, take it from me
There's someone out there who is perfect for you
And it isn't him, so tell him you're through
DON'T listen to him, young me, get out while you can
Don't waste any more time on this sad little man
Look deep inside yourself, set yourself free
Your life will be better, take it from me

BlackberrySeason Wed 13-Nov-13 19:59:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MakeTeaNotWar Wed 13-Nov-13 20:08:28

I look back at photos of a younger me and cringe
In my clumpy doc martens and wonky fringe.
I had spots, puppy fat, a moody sulky teen
Until in my 20s, then I began to preen.
I went on a diet and slapped on face cream.

My hair was shiny, my body slim.
I wore nice clothes and looked after my skin.
Then in my 30s, my looks fell apart.
I had kids, was knackered but now in my heart,
I accept who I am and know beauty doesn't last.
So you dear daughter, don't grow up too fast

Madlizzy Wed 13-Nov-13 20:57:43

You're not ugly, you're just pretty and lovely
Despite what they say to you at school.
Who are they to judge you anyway?
What business is it of theirs what you wear?
So that coat is second hand, big deal?
Lack of money is REAL

You're older now and you've got away
From someone who beat and scarred you
You're still beautiful, just a bit damaged
But you'll heal, you'll be better.
Don't give yourself away now though
You're worth so much more than that.

Love has found you, not just once but twice
With a gap inbetween the two.
All those babies, oh my body, what has it done to you?
I've got my stretch marks, my war wounds, my pride
This body is amazing in what it did, and does.
How it made all four children.

Forties, well hello to you, I am here!
Voluptuous, sexy, confident with style.
My body is mine, this is who I am and it's real.
Curves, wobbles, stripes, imperfections.
I hold my chin (or chins) high with great pride.
I am a success in my life, I am ME!

CrewElla Wed 13-Nov-13 21:03:12

You're smart, you're funny, you're kind
Don't be afraid to speak your mind
You deserve love & adoration
Not sarcasm & indignation
Believe in the goodness of man
You'll be supported if you take a stand
Be loyal, true, & strong
Celebrate life with a song

By 43, you will agree -
there's more to life, than Morrissey.

sharond101 Wed 13-Nov-13 21:55:44

Try to love not to hate
Who cares about your weight
Be you tall be you short
You can't be what you are not.
We all know it's true
That whatever you do
It's most important to be loved through and through.

dementedma Wed 13-Nov-13 22:15:52

Ah child, so proud of that tattoo
Music notes inked in glorious melody
On that slim taut middle.
How cool you look.
How pretty, with your low slung jeans
And a waterfall of midnight tumbled hair.

And you line your clear, hopeful eyes
And paint your nails
And the music notes sing your beauty and your youth across and up your slim taut middle.

Ah,child. Hold on, for this too shall pass
And the mirror will sharpen with harsh and truthful light.
And when the belly sags and stretches, the melody you dance to will soften and slow and fade…....

But may your heart still sing for you will be beautiful always

manfalou Wed 13-Nov-13 22:25:14

Life is gonna pass you by,
It's gonna go so fast,
And before you even have time to blink,
3 years will have come and passed.
And now stood right before you,
There not one but two mini Me's.
3 years ago you wouldn't have known
There'd be kids stood at your knees!

They both call you mummy,
And look up to you for support,
Now is the time to change your ways,
Its time to change your thoughts.
For when these kids grow tall,
and they're no longer at your knees
You can't go back and do it again,
Now matter how many times you say please.

Stop caring what others may or may not think,
Stop letting work get you down,
All your two little boys want to see
Is that frown turned upside down.
Who cares if theres pots in the sink all day?
Who cares if the lounge is a mess?
Who cares if the beds havnt been made today

Its time to get back to basics,
Its time to start letting go!
Its time to play with paints and glue
Its time you went a little slow.
For in another 3 years when you think back
And remember all these happy days
You'll be glad you changed your thoughts today,
You'll be glad you changed you ways.

LollipopViolet Wed 13-Nov-13 23:08:28

You'll build yourself up,
They'll try to knock you down
Every time you smile,
They'll turn into a frown

They think they have you beaten
But you know that's not true
No matter how hard life gets
Your family loves you

You'll come through this stronger
Than you ever could believe
And when you look back on this time
You'll surely feel relieved

That you had friends who always cared
A family who showed love
These things will come together, a sign from up above
That you'll set the world on fire,
No one knows how but you,
Your life is yet unwritten, each chapter starts anew

Spirael Thu 14-Nov-13 11:29:58

There once was a young girl of eight,
Who thought coding computers was great!
Just forget what they say,
And do things your way,
Being geeky was always your fate!

skyeskyeskye Thu 14-Nov-13 14:01:25

you need to accept it, face it and love it
your body will never be thin
you will find a man who will love you regardless
of whether you're fat or thin
blonde or brunette, or red, or grey hair
it really doesn't matter, hair is just there
make up just covers a pretty face so let yourself be free
stand there, be proud and say This Is Just Me

mellicauli Thu 14-Nov-13 16:40:34

Be brave, be funny,
Save your money.

Invest your time
in improving your mind.

Ask yourself: do I need this grief?
See past the surface, look underneath.

Be happy, be sunny,
Save more money.

Seek and you'll find -
Love someone kind

And always say yes to pain relief
- and best not forget to floss your teeth.

flamingtoaster Thu 14-Nov-13 19:29:43

There are plenty more fish in the sea
So believe what your mother says.
And when the right fish comes along
You'll know in so many ways.

OldRoan Thu 14-Nov-13 19:36:45

Photos of friends, huddled in groups,
Smiling and laughing together,
Sun kissed faces from endless school holidays,
Tucked behind a book - one person blocked out.

Out of sight, out of mind,
Out of touch and out of line.
She's healthy and happy - a stranger to me now.
Hiding behind her book.
A habit from the past, when she seemed fat and alone.

Look back and smile,
At the life you once had,
Riches undiscovered, beauty unknown.
Look back and smile,
At the life you once had,
And laugh at the thought that you once felt alone.

She smiles for the camera, and laughs with her friends,
Always on the end of the line.
Mentally tucking herself behind a book,
To discover in the future,
When she will realise how good she looks now.

TheFabulousIdiot Thu 14-Nov-13 20:34:15

Have sex
Have young fumbling innocent safe sex.
Maybe not with Chris, the older boy after only one thing
Who's socks you wore for the week he was away
during your two week relationship because you thought that was what true love was all about.
Have sex with Trevor the floppy haired mysterious older student
Who dumped you for not having sex
But have the sex before he dumps you, not after.
Then dump him.
Have sex with Matthew.
It doesn't matter that his father controls his bank account
You judge to harshly, he is a nice boy and he's not done it before.
Have sex with Paddy and Dick but not at the same time.
Yes there will be a man called Dick.
Don't have sex with Mark, it's boring vanilla sex
But you won't know because you didn't have sex
With Chris and Trevor or Matthew and Paddy.

You won't get HIV, you are not ugly, you will never be this thin again.

IndiansInTheFuckerLobby Thu 14-Nov-13 21:03:29

Little one,don't cry over what others say,
Don't think you're ugly,
You're not, ok!
You will realise how pointless it is one day,
How wrong they were,
How they told you those things to keep you down,
To stop you from smiling and wearing your crown!
Wear your crown and be beautiful from the inside out.
Never run, never hide, that's not what life's about!

GetKnitted Thu 14-Nov-13 22:56:12

there was a young girl from hum hum
who worried so over her bum
it was really that big,
but who gives a fig
she'll make a great loverly mum


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