skip to main content
College of Liberal Arts
University of Mississippi

Event Calendar

If you have questions or require assistance relating to a disability, please contact the College of Liberal Arts at ventress@olemiss.edu or (662) 915-1778, or contact the phone or email that may be listed for the particular event. 

Event Information:

  • Thu
    16
    Feb
    2023

    Sarahtalk: Fresh and Clean: A Reading of a Novel-in-Progress

    4:00 pmLGBTQIA+ Lounge, Lamar Hall 4th Floor

    Presented by LaToya Faulk, MFA (Writing and Rhetoric).

    Feminine hygiene is a billion-dollar industry and women of color are the largest consumers of feminine hygiene products. Studies link excessive use of feminine hygiene products to harmful endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that cause cancer.

    Earlier last year, I learned of Jacqueline Fox, an Alabama woman who died in 2016 of an ovarian cancer linked to talcum use, and I discovered there were countless other women like her.  Reports show Johnson & Johnson both knew about the link between talcum and ovarian cancer yet marketed the product to Black and Hispanic women after learning that using baby powder was a vaginal hygiene practice used widely among girls and women in Black and Hispanic communities. In researching hygiene rituals, the expression “fresh and clean” showed up repeatedly when Black women shared feelings that came with their use of tampons, powders, soaps, sprays, douches, wipes, lotions, suppositories, napkins, and creams guaranteed to tame the odorous, fluid draining, and menstruating vagina. The idiom “fresh and clean” isn’t just about the importance and continuous presentation of a newly washed female body, though corporations widely use the phrase in this way. Religious conviction, sexism, and racism are corollaries of the frequent use of harmful, unregulated hygiene products.

    I see fiction as a powerful tool for calling into question and reimagining engrained rituals and widely held ideas. We shape the stories we tell, but stories also shape us.  In telling the story of two sisters who struggle with ideas of moral uprightness and obsessive feminine cleanliness, the novel FRESH AND CLEAN interrogates the surveillance of Black female bodies and the ways cleanliness instigates ideas about a woman’s worthiness. I also want readers to consider the deadly consequences of our current consumer culture and how easily we place trust in feminine hygiene products simply because they’re on the shelf.

    About: LaToya Faulk is a recent fiction graduate of the University of Mississippi’s MFA program and a First-Year Writing instructor in The Department of Writing and Rhetoric.  Her work has been published in Scalawag, Southwest Review, Amherst College’s The Common, and Splinter Magazine’s Think Local series. She received a 2022 Pushcart special mention for the essay “In Search of Homeplace,” and she has a forthcoming essay soon to be published in The Global South called “Love is Wanting you Alive.” She lives with her two children in Oxford, Mississippi.