If you’ve got natural hair, then you know that wash day can sometimes – no ALWAYS – be a bit of a struggle.
Whether you rock a TWA (teeny weeny afro), a protective style (hey, weaves, braids, and locs!) or long, full, curly tresses down your back, taking the time to wash, condition, deep condition, detangle, two-strand twist and dry your hair is an extensive process that can take hours, even up to a full day to complete. It’s a glorious ritual that black women everywhere can relate to, but one we haven’t seen much of described or depicted in mainstream media – until now.
Enter Wash Day – a slice of life comic that pays tribute to the beauty and endurance of Black women and their hair.
A social media strategist by day, Jamila Rowser is a talented creative and self-proclaimed fangirl that has been writing about geek culture for over six years. Her love for all things geek culture started when she was really young – thanks to her parents and an uncle who were huge fans of sci-fi, fantasy, video games and comics.
About eight years ago when she was in grad school, Jamila launched the blog Girl Gone Geek to express her passion geek culture, and to write more. Noticing the lack of representation of diversity in mainstream publishers like Marvel Comics and DC Comics, Jamila decided that it was time for her to tell unique stories of women of color – like detangling our hair for 30 minutes.
With artist Robyn Smith and editor J.A. Micheline, Jamila has assembled the ultimate #BlackGirlMagic squad to tell the story of Kim and Cookie, two roommates who live in the Bronx as they navigate everything from single strand knots to rising rent and catcalls on the street. Since launching Wash Day’s Kickstarter on her birthday (April 3rd), she has already exceeded her $5,000 goal, well ahead of the campaign end date on May 4th.
Her Agenda caught with Jamila to learn more about what inspired her to create ‘Wash Day’, and how she’s ignoring self-doubt in order to create and publish the stories that she wants to see.
Her Agenda: What inspired you to create the comic, “Wash Day”?
Jamila Rowser: I think there’s this ritual behind wash day, and the audacity of black women taking so much time to care for their hair – especially when it is such a contested part of their bodies in society. I want to highlight the time, effort, dedication, love and sometimes frustration that we go through when we’re caring for our hair, and how much work that’s really involved with it. It’s also the time the you’re forced to take of yourself and reflect. I also hope that with some of my comics women who weren’t into comics or just didn’t see themselves in comics, I hope that Wash Day can be a good entry point for them. I want to write comics for black girls and women of color, because those are the type of stories I want to read and want to exist. I really want to serve them as a community.
Her Agenda: Have you experienced challenges in developing Wash Day? What has been your process for choosing collaborators for this project?
Jamila Rowser: As far as any challenges, when telling the story – i think it’s sort of universal to feel like you have to represent a whole demographic of people – and I really tried to let that go. Especially with the natural hair experience being so different for everyone, I’m not trying to represent every detail of the wash day experience here – I can’t do that. But I what I want to do is tell the story of my character, Kim, and her journey authentically. Through her experience, I hope that other people can see themselves in it and relate.
Finding collaborators came a little easy. Once I knew I wanted to write comics, I had a running list of illustrators and artists that I wanted to work with. It’s also a personal goal of mine to only work with women of color in any aspect of my work. Whether it is the editor, web designer, or artist, I only want to work with women of color because I feel like the stories that I tell will be very specific to those women.
Her Agenda: With the Kickstarter process, what do you hope to learn?
Jamila Rowser: I really wanted the Kickstarter to raise awareness, and for the story to be more accessible for people. Of course, I could market it to people within my own network, but I think by raising money (for printing and shipping) via Kickstarter, I’m able to share the story with more people. One of my biggest goals with this project is to have it translated into Spanish. I’m half Latina, and in places like Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, there can be a lot of politics behind hair. I really want Wash Day to be a proud moment for women who live in the DR or Puerto Rico, and may be experiencing negativity over their curly hair. I want to serve them well with this story. It’s a lot of work and I’m excited and nervous about the process, but I’ve gotten so much great feedback already and I can’t wait to share it with everyone!