Wash Day Teaches Black Women How To Care For Their Natural Hair

Wash Day

Jamila Rowser (writer), Robyn Smith (illustrator), J.A. Micheline (script editor)
Black Josei Press
June 2018

Disclaimer: J.A. Micheline has written for Women Write About Comics.

Wash Day is a mini slice-of-life comic that aims to show black women just how beautiful they are. The story, penned and illustrated by Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith, respectively, follows a young black woman named Kimana as she navigates life in the Bronx. As she goes about her day, we see Kimana hanging with her bestie Cookie and curving fuckboys. At the heart of this comic though, we get a deeply intimate look at how she cares for her coily tresses.

Image Courtesy of Black Josei Press.

Note: The term “natural hair” in this review refers to unprocessed Afro hair. 

It’s Wash Day 

“Wash day” is a term that describes the extensive hair care routine that many black women undergo to keep their hair looking healthy. Considering kinkier hair is typically drier than other hair types, it requires a lot of gentle attention and a crap ton of moisturizer. While all the conditioning and styling produces beautiful results, the process can be daunting and challenging. By the time readers hit the second page, we see Kimana already putting her game face on before she begins to tackle her mane. 

The majority of the panels act as a tutorial for caring for natural hair, so it’s very art driven. There is some nudity as we follow Kimana into her shower as she conditions and combs through her hair. Following her hot shower, readers get a step-by-step look at how to wrap and set their hair post-conditioning. 

Image Courtesy of Black Josei Press.

I found the art astonishing, because it was so detailed. Smooth, curvy lines were used to outline Kimana’s supple skin, while darker, harsher lines were used to convey the the coarser texture of her hair. Because the comic was in black and white, I could focus on the intricacies of Kimana’s hair instead of being distracted by too much coloring. Furthermore, Smith paid a great deal of attention to the twist of her curls which made her hair look very realistic. I have a similar hair type and because each ringlet was drawn with such care, I found myself feeling connected to Kimana’s character.

The shading was also extremely well done especially in regards to skin tone. Kimana is African-American and Cookie is Afro-Latina, and while Cookie is noticeably lighter than Kimana, it was clear that Cookie is a woman of color too. I loved how this was done because it shows that while two people can be of African  descent, their skin tones can expand over a large spectrum. Representation matters and that representation was certainly conveyed in the illustrations.

What Do You Do With A Fuckboy?

You ignore him. Boom! Done—at least that’s how Kimana deals with it. While being hit on for women is commonplace, the inclusion of this kind of moment makes the comic that much more personal. I think ignoring unwanted attention is the best way to do it, of course the guy will be pissed and insult you (it’s not you, it’s their bruised male ego), but you at least saved yourself from “wat u doin sexy?” texts at three in the morning. 

Bestie Love 

The interactions between Kimana and Cookie are easy and comfortable. Although we never learn how long they’ve known each other, the fact that they sit close to one another and laugh together is enough to show they have a close bond. 

I would definitely recommend this comic, because it normalizes black women’s hair. Natural hair still seems to confuse a lot of people and to see a comic about it helps people understand an important facet of many black women’s lives. If there’s a deeper understanding of natural hair, the appreciation and respect for it can only get stronger. 

You can buy Wash Day on Black Josei Press in both print and digital formats. You can also purchase a copy in Spanish!

Ayana Arnette Underwood

Ayana Arnette Underwood

Ayana is a blerd journalist who's obsessed with graphic novels and is the editor-in-chief of ComixBawse. She loves analyzing comics to speak on themes like: sexual politics, gender, race, and pop culture. She is currently pursuing her M.S. degree in Publishing at Pace University. She hopes to one day have a career in feminist criticism and graphic novel publishing. When she's not writing, you can find her walking in the sun, eating pizza, or watching Insecure. Find her work on Black Girl Nerds, Do You Even Comic Book!?, and Women Write About Comics. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook (@ComixBawse).