The Wash Day Diaries is a black woman owned and created slice-of-life graphic novel that showcases the ups and downs of best friends Davene, Nisha, Kim, and Cookie—four young Black women who live in the Bronx. Their stories of family, friendships, and relationships are chronicled through their hair care routines—each texture and style soaking in their own glory. Duo Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith candidly express the range of experiences Black women encounter day to day: from creating spaces for vulnerability in sisterhood, solidarity in community, and practicing self-care that takes into account the physical, emotional, and spiritual parts of ourselves—bringing out moments for self-discovery.
Through-out five chapters, though Davene, Nisha, Kim, and Cookie are confronted with casual spurts of sexism, racialized microaggressions, mental health stigma, and negotiate boundaries with family, it's their bond and connection to one another where they can express themselves fully. Each panel details every step of the process, from cornrows, wigs, braids, and twists, mirroring both the length of time and care it takes to treat the parts of ourselves we can’t see at times, and that sometimes we need someone to help us too. Although we may face different obstacles or challenges, we don’t always have to face them alone.
I remember struggling with what I should do with my hair once my mother told me I was grown up enough to manage my own hair and the subsequent discrimination I often faced because of how my hair looked. Trying a variation of styles that included a number of heat and chemical styles at first, to short cropped waves, long swishy braids, and wild curly fros, I’ve come to love the versatility and distinctiveness of my hair in all its variations.
While there is still stigma surrounding our natural hair, trends of cultural appropriation, and not excluding the current controversy surrounding white women buying up Black hair products, it’s touching and empowering to see the movement towards showing our hair the love it deserves. From Tracee Ellis-Ross’ new docu-series featuring the cultural and historical roots of Black hair in The Hair Tales, hair care routines and styling tutorial videos, to ASMR content on social media, there are multiple ways we can see our hair represented and celebrated. Wash Day Diaries is a celebration of the daily, mundane rituals that create opportunities to build intimate moments, that with the right amount of care and attention, will lead to stronger ties with one another and greater growth within ourselves at our own pace.