Clay Cane is a New York City-based writer who is recognized for his contributions in journalism. Clay is a regular contributor for various print and online publications such as The Advocate and BET.com. He is the author of the highly anticipated novel Ball-Shaped World, which is a fictionalized account of the black and Latino ballroom scene. Also, he is the Entertainment Editor at BET.com and a member of New York Film Critics Online. He can be reached at claycane@gmail.com.


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    Tuesday, June 10, 2008

    Remember when having a weave was something women kept on the low? Back in the day it was a "bust" or a "crack" if a woman had a long, flowing, endless weave. Nowadays, it isn't even a legit insult since every woman from commercials to movies is decked out in colossal weaves.

    As a young’en in Philly during the ‘80s and '90's, weaves really weren’t common place. Perhaps the price of weaves didn’t make it accessible or it just wasn’t the style. Women rocked finger waves, braids, or a good ole’ fashion perm. From Oprah to the women of The Cosby Show to Halle Berry—you just didn't see weaves to that extreme, wigs, maybe.

    I remember the first time I realized black women had weaves. I was over my grandfather's house; my cousin and I were watching Karyn White's "Superwoman" video on Video Juke Box. Miss White was sashaying around some red linen, swinging her mane and staring coyly into the camera. My cousin, who was braiding her hair, said, "All that damn weave in her hair!" (The same cousin who was rolling around on the floor getting the holy ghost, but made sure not to mess up her freshly done finger waves!)

    "Huh?" I said, mind you, I was nine years-old.

    "Weave! She got all that damn weave in her hair."

    "What's a weave?"

    "Fake hair, they sew it in."

    "That isn't her hair?"

    "Boy! What black woman you know got hair like that—now leave me alone, I'm trying to braid my hair!" I thought of all the girls on my block, all the girls at school, all of my teachers, my aunts, my cousins... no one had hair like that.

    I was stunned. You could actually sew in hair? I soon found out many of them had weaves: Karyn White, Jody Watley and the weave pioneer of them all—Diana Ross! Miss Ross is definitely a weave legend and paved the way for every weave-a-licious diva alive.

    Sure, I knew black women wore wigs, but this "weave" was a whole new invention. When people knew a girl had a weave you'd here comments like, "How you gonna be bald one day and have ten inches of hair down your back the next day?" Now, braids or extensions were a whole different story, a girl would be proud of her “dookie braids”.

    As time went on weaves became more acceptable. I can't remember the exact point; I think it had something to do with mid-'90's R&B and hip-hop. En' Vogue? Lil' Kim? Mary J.? By the late '90's weaves were socially acceptable and now even white women proudly rock weaves.

    I’m sure the pro-black folks who used to read the girls who rocked a perm would do anything to abandon the weaves and go back to a Dark N’ Lovely box. Well, I could care less how women wear their hair and I don't think it makes anyone less intelligent if they rock horse hair or an afro. Still, I do miss the days when you could turn on a black television show or watch a black film and the women didn't look like bad drag queens or cast members from Flavor of Love.

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    Posted by Clay :: 12:37 AM :: 8 comments

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