“Wash Day,” a new children’s book from Mayo Clinic Press, is a sweet and honest exploration of the beauty and tradition of wash days. Offering gentle guidance and framing the all-day affair as an act of self-care, this picture book also serves as an avenue to demystify and educate others on natural haircare routines, which are often misunderstood and stigmatized.
Author Tiffany Golden joins us to answer questions about the meaning and inspiration behind her new book.
Q: Do you have favorite childhood hair memories? Did you draw on them when writing this book?
A: As a child, I was VERY tender-headed. (For those who don’t know, tender-headed is a colloquial term that means your scalp has heightened sensitivity to pain.) It didn’t matter who did my hair, it HURT! My favorite memory, though, was when my mom FINALLY let me wear bangs. She normally wouldn’t because it would be a whole ordeal where my hair would have to get pressed and maintained until the next wash day. I wanted them so bad, and one Easter I finally got to wear them. You couldn’t tell me nothin’! I was cute! I wanted the main character to have that feeling of wearing her hair in her favorite style and the confidence that comes with it.
Q: Why did you choose to focus on sister dynamics rather than a mother-daughter dynamic?
A: There’s something caring about sisters in my experience. We work each other’s nerves, and yet, hate to see one another in pain. The big sis-baby sis dynamic is also one that I know a lot about. In my family, I’m the youngest sister and my older sisters have generally taken a different approach than my parents. There are many stories with moms and grandmoms as hair-carers, and even dads nowadays — which I absolutely love! As a storyteller, I love to celebrate sisters whenever possible.
Q: What would having a book like this or even content like “Hair Love,” “The Hair Tales” and “Young Love” have meant to you as a child?
A: Wow! I think a book showing natural Black hair when I was coming up would have been amazing. Or even books normalizing daddies doing hair or that there can be a gentle and loving approach to Black hair would’ve been powerful in my library. When I was coming up, there was a lot of messaging about being “presentable.” Sometimes that meant changing how you naturally were. To have something of my own to counter-message any anti-Black rhetoric or images would have been esteem-building.
Q: What do you hope readers walk away with?
A: I hope readers walk away with being seen. Yes, sometimes it hurts to get our hair done, but trying new ways and incorporating tools and techniques designed to lessen the pain can change the game!
Q: What’s a myth or misunderstanding many people have about this topic?
A: Well, the first myth is that coily hair doesn’t have different needs. It does, and that’s what makes it so beautiful. Secondly, that the process always takes forever. It can take a while, but after you find your groove, it can be quite easy!
Q: What spurred you to write this book?
A: My sister Desma would do my hair in “teddy bear ears” when I was little. It was different from how my mom would do it — she did our hair all the same way when we were little to save time — pulled up into one knotted braid. My sister would add personality to our hair. When I got older, my sister Nicole taught herself to braid on my hair. So, there’s a genuinely sweet experience I have with my sisters doing my hair. I wanted to honor them by sharing that.
A sweet and honest exploration of the ups and downs of wash day.Shop Now
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