When you think of your wash day as a curly, what comes to mind? Your routine, products, frequency? For Black and Latina author Jamila Rowser, it became the inspiration for her 27-page comic that brought the opportunity to reflect and teach a larger audience about the importance of wash day in the world of natural haircare. We spoke with Jamila regarding her own wash day routine, what inspired the book, and the importance of representation for women and latinx people in comics.
Growing up as Black and Latina curly girl, Jamila didn’t embrace her natural hair until she was in college and chose to no longer get perms and wore her hair in natural styles. She shared how her hair represents her identity and this became an essential component for the foundations of creating “Wash Day,” which is represented by placing the setting in her hometown of Brooklyn. Showcasing the changing climate of the “BX boro” was also important for audiences to understand the impacts of gentrification and how it affects her character. The duality of a bi-lingual character and cultural background was essential for Jamila to create a Spanish version of Wash Day to reflect her Black, Puerto Rican, and Dominican roots.
As Wash Day came to life, Jamila wanted to implement the process of a weekly ritual many of us endure in the pursuit of healthy, happy hair. She used her own routine as inspiration to create her character Kimana, a 26-year-old with long, thick hair residing in the Bronx. In order to also depict a routine that was universal and relatable Jamila sent her friend’s a survey to learn about their wash day routines, which helped influence her character’s patterns. Jamila shared her biggest wash day struggles as “Detangling, hands down. I recently cut my hair, but previously I had long thick hair and detangling would take me forever and it made me dread wash day. Now I have shorter hair and detangling takes me less than 5 minutes. It’s a dream!” As for holy grails, she likes to keep it simple with a “wide tooth comb, bobbi pins, and thick hair ties.” We couldn’t agree more with her essentials since they are staples of natural haircare.
One of the motivations Jamila had when creating a comic book that would highlight women of color and latinx people was to depict a life experience that is underrepresented for many Black and Brown women. “I know there is a lot of racism and colorism in Latinx society, and many dark-skinned women and women with kinky and curly hair receive a lot of hate and discrimination. Knowing this, I made sure that Wash Day, a comic that celebrates natural hair had an Afro-Latina character and was also available in English and Spanish.” The celebration of women was not only important in the creation of the comic but extended into who Rowe wanted to collaborate with for art and translation. She credits her success in adapting the writing into a comic from artist Robyn Smith and the translations by “Joamette Gil of Power & Magic Press, an Afro-Cuban woman I admire a lot in the comics community.”
When creating a passion project, it can lead to amazing new opportunities and Jamila was empowered by the creative process that came with the fruition of this book.“Wash Day helped me understand who I wanted to be as a creator, and that I wanted to create comics by and for women of color. I know that want to serve my community in a very specific way with my comics. I want Black and Latina women to read my comics and feel seen, respected and understood.”
Are you ready to grab your copy of Wash Day? Head to JamilaRowser.com/Shop to get notified when Wash Day goes on sale to the public!