Why working on this book felt good

This is A Job For Mommy! An A-Z Adventure is coming out this week (and for sale!), and I am sitting with how good it feels to have created artwork for a project whose message I believe in so fully. In Keegan Connor Tracy’s book, “Mommy” has had 26 careers (one for every letter of the alphabet) and shares her experiences with her daughter in rhyming verse.

With a focus on jobs that are not traditionally considered “feminine” occupations, Keegan encourages readers to consider that women and girls can do any work – from the messy and physically demanding to the silly, scientific and adventurous.

Having supported diverse learners in school settings for the past nine years, this really resonates with me. Though we are comfortable with encouraging girls to strive academically, when academics are not a female student’s strength, girls are not encouraged to pursue the trades and manual, necessary community work (like electricians, mechanics, landscapers, etc.) in the same way as boys. Elective shop classes, for example, are often made up of predominantly male students.

In my experience, girls tend to see themselves occupying roles related to the beauty or fashion industry much more readily, or in caring or serving professions where women are currently heavily represented.

window washer

This is one of the reasons W is one of my favourite jobs of Mommy. For W, Mommy is a window washer! This is the type of job, like many roles relating to building maintenance and construction, that I think many girls would not envision themselves in. Maybe window washing is not usually considered glamorous, but it’s important, and pays what would generally be considered a living wage.

The ability to choose work that supports us is central to financial autonomy, which is essential to being able to make choices for ourselves, and self-determination is key to equality for girls and women.

There is so much work that is considered “men’s work” by default, not because it needs anything that men specifically have to offer, but because the historic domination by men in every field of paid work has not been eroded in that particular category. I’m thinking of how often it is easy to let the term “work men” slip off the tongue. Because most of the people we see doing everyday work in the community – like construction, automotive repair, electrical or plumbing work and other jobs that occupy the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), are men.

These are all good jobs, and there is no reason women could not, theoretically, be doing them. Indeed, it is projected that there will be a shortage of one million skilled trade workers by 2020, so women are actually needed to step into these roles. But preparing girls for jobs in skilled labour, manufacturing and trades has to be worked into how they view themselves at a young age, so they can even imagine themselves in the world of physically engaging, often messy “men’s work.” Employers are calling for training for girls in STEM as they recognize that it is a cultural and educational shift that needs to occur to correct the gender imbalance.

So, it feels good to contribute to something that can help shift how girls might project themselves in the future of work. Keegan chose a mix of kinds (and importantly, class) of occupations – blue collar, entrepreneurial, community service, sports, entertainment – and on the page all the jobs are elevated to something that is fun, exciting and meaningful.

I feel super lucky that I got asked to do work that I find meaningful in creating the illustrations and design for this book. I never take it for granted that it’s because I was told, as a daughter at home, and student at school, that I could.

img_7662

 

 

Jill Andrew- Body Positive Warrior 

Jill Andrew, PhD (ABD), is a prolific woman with a mission. She is a body positive activist, writer, educator, fashion blogger, co-creator of the Body Confidence Canada Awards, founder/director of BITE ME! Toronto Int’l Body Image Film & Arts Festival Awards, and spearhead a petition going to the  Ontario Human Rights Commission to make discrimination based on size and appearance illegal.  She wants to end fat shaming, and change our culture into one that accepts and celebrates all bodies, not to mention the people in them.

After learning about the Body Confidence Canada Awards, I wanted to connect with Jill and let her know about The Body Book, thinking it could be an educational tool to help the cause.  Kindly and bewilderingly given her full schedule, Jill found some time to share her thoughts.  In my opinion, she summed up perfectly why I feel this book is needed.

“Roz Maclean’s The Body Book is a welcomed edition to the Body Positivity Movement! MacLean seamlessly demonstrates that everyBODY has a story and that each and every one of our bodies not only deserves respect but should be acknowledged and celebrated as the only one we’re going to get! Our bodies usher us into the world, make us better community citizens and allow us to develop healthier and stronger relationships with our loved ones. We may look and move differently in these bodies of ours but what we can all do is appreciate one another and admire each others journeys in the skin we are in! Through the use of vivid colour and fun imagery, MacLean’s characters reach countless readers as they are not defined by any one gender or race, for instance. This allows a transcending of stereotypes which truly provides the opportunities for each of us – young and old – to ‘find’ each of these bodies within our very own.”

-Jill Andrew,PhD(ABD)

Thanks Jill for your thoughts, I look forward to following your incredible work. I encourage everyone to do the same!

Body Book reading

Thanks to Creekside day care kids and staff for having me! It was a great opportunity to talk about different ways that bodies get around, like using walkers and wheelchairs, as well as different body shapes and sizes. We had so much fun doing an art activity after reading The Body Book!