For Jamila Rowser, Wash Day came out of a simple desire to see more women like her: black and brown women with beautiful halos of hair, living out their everyday lives.
For the past few years, representation of PoC in comics has been mostly limited to fantasy and science fiction. It’s been hard to find “slice of life” comics—which illustrate the mundane, lighthearted aspects of life—that specifically cater to the black or brown experience.
When it comes to natural hair, Wash Day proves to be the first of its kind: a beautiful, thoughtful portrayal of the “quiet moments we have as black women: the self-care, time, and dedication that goes into caring for our hair.” (Jamila Rowser)
Written by Jamila Rower and illustrated by Robyn Smith with script edits by J.A Micheline, the 27-page story gives a glimpse into the quiet, everyday life of a young, natural-haired black woman.
The plot of Wash Day is simple: 26 year old Kimana—Kim—goes through struggles and triumphs as she navigates her natural hair journey and deals with her long, voluminous kinks and curls. Throughout her wash day routine, Kim spends quality girl time with her roommate Cookie, deals with catcalling, and indulges in many routines that other 20-something women are familiar with.
But it’s in this simplicity that Wash Day is so groundbreaking. Much of society is still painfully oblivious to the commitment natural hair is to women of color. It can be time-consuming, full of ups and downs, and stressful. But it is also beautiful, therapeutic, and a notable aspect of self-esteem for WoC.
“As black women we go through a lot with our hair,” Jamila notes. And with Wash Day she hopes the comic can break some of the stereotypes placed against black women, and show that black women are just as soft, vulnerable, and complex as anyone else.
“Black hair has always been held in a precarious position.” Robyn says. “Without getting too much into the history, it is[ simultaneously] demonized and fetishized. There are laws being made even today that deem it unprofessional—yet, dreadlocks, baby hairs, braids and Afros are considered high fashion/ ‘what’s trendy’ when done so by [non-black people].
Robyn’s hope is that the mundanity of Wash Day normalizes having black hair. That the regular life readers see Kim live with her natural hair helps people understand that those who have kinks and curls own it, and nobody outside of that should have power over it or them—black hair is not a ‘trend’ nor a court case to be argued over: it’s just an aspect of life.
It’s clear Wash Day is going to be a popular story that deeply resonates with audiences, and inspires readers and creators alike to “seek out stories that are unfamiliar or underrepresented”(Jamila Rowser), and give voice to those who have yet to see themselves reflected in popular media.
WASH DAY’s Kickstarter runs from April 3rd—May 4th, check it out and support!