Wash Day Diaries by Jamila Rowser and Robin Smith

Wash Day Diaries tells the story of four best friends—Kim, Tanisha, Davene, and Cookie—through five connected short story comics that follow these young women through the ups and downs of their daily lives in the Bronx. The book takes its title from the wash day experience shared by Black women everywhere, setting aside all plans and responsibilities for a full day of washing, conditioning, and nourishing their hair. Each short story uses hair routines as a window into these four characters’ everyday lives and how they care for each other.
Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith originally kickstarted their critically acclaimed, award-winning slice-of-life mini-comic, Wash Day, inspired by Rowser’s own wash day ritual and their shared desire to see more comics featuring the daily lived experiences of young Black women. Wash Day Diaries includes an updated, full-color version of this original comic—which follows Kim, a 26-year-old woman living in the Bronx—as the book’s first chapter and expands into a graphic novel with short stories about these vibrant and relatable new characters.

In expanding the story of Kim and her friends, the authors pay tribute to Black sisterhood through portraits of shared, yet deeply personal experiences of Black hair care. From self-care to spilling the tea at an hours-long salon appointment to healing family rifts, the stories are brought to life through beautifully drawn characters and different color palettes reflecting the mood in each story.

Thoughts

So, I love, love this graphic novel. I love the illustrations with the different types of natural hair we have. The texture, the complexities of taking care of our hair, and yes, how sometimes it does take a day to get it just the way we want. Wash days are a large part of us. They can be easy and/or hard. They can take all day, or half a day, if you’re getting braids, it’s an event packed in with a movie session. These natural coils may frustrate us or bring us joy, there are tears, and sometimes laughs. It’s a day that pushes very personal buttons, and I love how this graphic novel touches on subjects like depression, mental health and relationships. Because washday is that day that will pull and tug at what is going on in our lives.

All plans do gotta stop, take time and revitalize.  I wish this book was longer, but mostly, I loved the representation. I felt seen and acknowledged in a comic, which is awesome.