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.

Colorlines screenshot of “How Mamas Love Their Babies” from The Feminist PressBook cover of How Mamas Love Their Babies. Flowers frame a red book cover on the left on the right a Black woman wearing a skirt holds her baby who is wearing a cloth diaper.

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.” 

Illustration: Elise Peterson / The Feminist PressA collaged image of a Black woman watching over her child as he writes pasted over the inside of a car with a driver and a window overlooking people on the street.

Illustration: Elise Peterson / The Feminist PressA collaged image with text that says some mamas stay home with their babies its hard work. A Black woman holds up a can and a Black child is wrapped in a blanket on the couch. The floor is checkerboard adorned with flowers and walls are various patterns.

Illustration: Elise Peterson / The Feminist Press

Illustration: Elise Peterson / The Feminist PressCollaged image of two pairs of legs wearing stilettos over a green opaque neon background and burgundy floor with multicolored craft rhinestones sprinkled throughout.

Illustration: Elise Peterson / The Feminist PressCollaged image of a White woman standing outside of an adult sex shop with neon signs she is holding a protest sign that says unfair to strippers all we want is a bare living.

Illustration: Elise Peterson / The Feminist PressA collage of a Black woman holding a camera over a blue and green patterned background with two Black girls jumping rope and an image of a playground in the background.

Illustration: Elise Peterson / The Feminist PressA toddler wearing a blue shirt rests their ear against a pregnant womans belly who is wearing a green shirt. The picture is collaged over a red background.

You can find “How Mamas Love Their Babies” at The Feminist Press