Woman wearing waist beads
Woman wearing waist beads

Waist beads are an age-old accessory common in African countries, especially West African countries.

Consists of small glass beads on a string or wire worn around the waist or beads. Waist beads are also called belly beads, waistlines beads, beaded waist chains.

May include decorative stones, crystals and charms. I had a chance to talk to a few ladies and they let me into their reasons for wearing belly beads.

Intimacy, fertility and a symbol of femininity. Many women use belly beads as a means of seduction and to evoke desire.

Those in serious relationships will wear the beads under their clothes and allow only their lovers to see them signifying sanctity and purity between them.

They say that men find beads sensual. Some specific colours of beads are used to communicate fertility. So some women wear such beads when they want to conceive a child.

Heritage and pride

Waist beads are a trend nowadays, and women of all races and ethnicity wear them. But its waist beads are unmistakable of African origin. A lady friend of mine in the diaspora tells me that black women in the diaspora wear waist beads to connect with their ancestors and celebrate their heritage and cultural practices.

Weight gauge

Beads are known for weight measurement and body shaping as they do not stretch. Many women would use this to be aware of any weight gain or loss. If you were to gain weight, then the waist beads will sit high up on the waist or simply feel tighter and when you lose weight they would hang loosely below your belly button.

Maturity

In parts of the world where wearing waist beads is a cultural practice, they are used as a rite of passage. For instance in West African countries, mothers tie beads around their teenage daughters when they get their first menstrual period to symbolize their passage into womanhood.

Beauty

Ask most women who wear waist beads, they will tell you that it enhances beauty as their first response. Beads are made of glass, decorative stones and crystals. It's only fair they accentuate a woman's beauty.

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