For over a decade, Juniper Fitzgerald earned a living through various jobs in the sex industry before she wrote “How Mamas Love Their Babies,” a new children’s book published today (February 13) by The Feminist Press. Filled with collages by artist Elise Peterson, it’s been hailed as the first children’s book to depict mothers who are sex workers, a theme central to Fitzgerald’s own experience as a parent.
In “How Mamas Love Their Babies,” Fitzgerald and Peterson show how mothers use their bodies to care for their children: arms clean houses for income; hands till farmland; feet dance in strip clubs. By depicting love and security beyond a White, professionalized class, the book allows children of different backgrounds to see their family lives reflected authentically.
Myths about good parenting are largely weaponized against low-income women and women of color who must navigate institutionalized misogyny and racism as they raise their families. Fitzgerald’s words, woven into Peterson’s illustrations built on vintage photography, celebrate the diverse ways mothers give their children economic support, including the racialized and gendered labor that is often hidden or that disproportionately criminalizes women of color. Below, a few words and images from “How Mamas Love Their Babies.”
You can find “How Mamas Love Their Babies” at The Feminist Press.