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  • Writer's pictureRukia Sheppard

History of waist Beads

Updated: Oct 9, 2023

Welcome to my Vlogs by Rukia Sheppard

The history of waist beads dates back to antiquity. Many believe that the history begins in ancient Egypt where they were called “girdles” and were worn by women as a status symbol. In West Africa, the tradition was made popular by the Yoruban tribe of Nigeria. They are worn as a celebration of womanhood, sexuality, femininity, fertility, healing, spirituality, body shaping, protection and wealth. Yoruban women are known to have once laced beads with charms and fragrances that would be considered irresistible to the opposite sex. This practice is now less popular, however wearing beads for the seduction of men is still one of the primary reasons some women wear them. Waist beads can be considered “African Lingerie.” Most of Waists by Wednesday’s beads are imported from Ghana, which also has a rich tradition of wearing waist beads. It is common for women in Ghana to wear waist beads as ornaments, as well as for symbolic adornment, which serves as a sign of wealth, femininity or aristocracy, as well as spiritual well-being. During Ghanaian naming ceremonies, babies are typically adorned with waist beads, while young adults also wear beads around their waists and on their hips during puberty rites as a portrayal of femininity. These beads are believed to possess the power to attract as well as evoke deep emotional responses. As part of Ghanaian tradition, a successful suitor would commission a set of beads including bracelets, anklets, necklaces, cuffs and waist beads for his bride. This was part of her dowry and the foundation of her personal wealth. Women in Ghana would wear multiple strands of beads around their waist, with some cultures providing that the only person allowed to remove them was her husband on their wedding night. Many Ghanaian women will tell you that they use their waist beads to shape their waist. It is believed that the practice of wearing multiple waist beads over time will help to keep the waist small and accentuate the hips. Since traditional waist beads are strung on the cotton cord (and without a clasp/hook) they can be a good tool to measure weight gain and loss. They will not stretch; they will either break or continue to roll up the waist when weight has been gained. Similarly, they will roll down or eventually become so loose they will fall off when weight has been lost. Don’t be fooled by photos of only slender women wearing waist beads. Women of all shapes and sizes can confidently adorn themselves with waist beads as well. Because traditionally beads are worn along your panty or bikini line and not your actual waist (which is typical across the belly button), it allows for all women to comfortably wear waist beads no matter their size. Wearing them is really a personal reflection and appreciation for your God-given beauty. The most comfortable way of wearing waist beads is under your belly, along your panty line. Most women wear their beads traditionally, under their clothes against their skin. Your waist beads are designed to withstand the friction of clothing, yet remain comfortable against your skin. Some women may wear them over their clothes, to adorn a long skirt or dress or against their skin while wearing a cropped top or low-rise jeans.

How to wear the Waist Beads

Wrap your full strand of waist beads around your waist along your panty line (or however high up you want to wear the beads). Remove any additional beads by pulling them off the string. Tie 3-4 tight knots where the beads end. I would also suggest intertwining the individual strands of thread to make a more secure knot. Cut any additional string. And you’re all set!

You can wear your waist beads all day, every day. They may dull after time from showering, if that happens just polish them with a cloth. If you do want to take them off from time to time you’ll want to tie them loosely from the beginning and then just pull them up and off like a shirt. Another option is to tie them in a bow instead of in a knot. Again, waist beads can endure almost any activity, but if you wear them low, please just remember to pull them up prior to pulling your panties down when using the restroom! cited in Ohemaa Enterprises, LLC (2022)


waist beads


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