Ink-blot, written and illustrated by Maria Eugenia, is an invaluable picture book that can be used as a platform to discuss and promote body acceptance and self-acceptance. This book informs our students that while self-critique may often be perpetuated by our sometimes beauty as a monolith society, their priorities should be learning, having fun and doing the things they enjoy. We are introduced to Ink-blot, a girl who “some people say … is badly drawn.” The focus then shifts, to “most girls” and how they often worry about their looks. The pages, filled with a combination of watercolour and ink drawing illustrations of diverse young females consider how“some girls” worry about their hair, their noses, their size, and their overall appearance. But not Ink-blot! Ink-blot doesn’t care about monolithic, oppressive societal norms. She is simply too busy having fun!
This book encourages our students to see that a young girl’s worth is not tantamount to her appearance and celebrates difference and diversity. Through Ink-blot, students are exposed to the notion that worrying about one’s looks is “a lot of stress!” and that self-critique should be challenged.
This mentor-text can be used to spark discussion about equity, justice, empowerment and gender stereotypes. Ink-blot can be employed to examine what the introduction of the Language Arts Curriculum document refers to as “critical literacy involv[ing] asking questions and challenging the status quo, and lead[ing] students to look at issues of power and justice in society.” (1) Furthermore, Ink-blot can be used to enhance Healthy Living programs and begin dialogue focused on challenging societal norms about what is deemed beautiful, attractive and healthy.
Although brief, this book can be the spark to many in-depth critical conversations about issues of body image and the detrimental effects of homogenized standards of beauty.
Elena Bukshtinovich is a member of Simcoe County Teacher Local.