Earlier this year my Sacred Woman sisters introduced me to the beautiful traditions of waist beads that had originated from our Nubian ancestors of Ancient Kemet. I kept telling myself I would eventually get them but when I got them around this time last month it was the best thing I ever did for my womanhood. As an afro-dominican, my culture has discouraged so much of our beautiful and imperative African traditions claiming most of them pertaining to women to be taboo. I recall being a Teen and having my father become so upset with me when he would find me wearing ankle bracelets. He being such a prideful man, never needed to give me an excuse for why I was not aloud to wear them and I would of course, hide it from him when I did. One day when I got older I asked him why it bothered him so much when he found me wearing it again, this time with determination not to take it off without a valid explanation from him as to why he was so opposed to me wearing an accessory on my own foot. My father when on to tell me that he disliked me wearing ankles and toe rings because it was for hoers. Imagine my facial expression trying so hard to understand what kind of experience my dad may have had that made him feel such a way about a woman adorning her legs with jewels. Needles to say that with all do respect I could not continue to consider my dads incredibly ridiculous wish and reasoning for what I wore on my body. I continued to love my body accessories. I later began to research more about the history of why African women (& Africans of the diaspora) traditionally adorned their beautiful bodies with jewels. Then I met my sisters and two of them being sacred waist bead creators, I knew I had to finally get some of my own and truly embrace my womanhood.
Waist beads keep me fit and feeling sexy
The moment my graduation of Queen Afua’s Sacred Woman Rites of passage program came to completion I got the opportunity to purchase my waist beads from my sis, Zanetta who fitted me on the spot and adorned me with two of her creations one, slightly snug and the other perfectly fitting to my waist. One made of regular stones and the other made with Womb healing stones. She blessed me with fitting me so perfectly into these beads that somehow I knew now that I had to get back to having a slimmer waistline in order to not feel uncomfortable wearing these beads. My body type is one that when I drink or eat too much I am immediately bloated. I understand the physiology of my intricate body and now these waist beads made me keep my body on check when eating, sleeping and exercising. Having my body adorned with waist beads didn’t mean that I will only feel super sexy and beautiful in my own skin every time I saw myself in the mirror but it also meant that I would now be cautious of the way I took care of my body in order to make sure the waist beads fit my waist and flattered me for myself and for my love. These waist beads have been a godsend. Now I am more in love with my midsection. I protect it more from harmful food and neglect and I am also determined to do core ab exercises daily to make sure my stomach matches the sexiness of my beads. I like my stomach flat and fit and these beads motivate me to keep it this way.
Keep reading below and be astonished as to how these beads are actually made to keep women, their wombs and abdomen healthy and fit. I found this article by a Ghanaian bead maker based out of Georgia and I had to share it here for you all to read. Enjoy! Support and get your beads, beauties. *Quick note before these wack copy cat celebrities catch on to this traditional accessory and try and call it their trend just remember we have been adorning our temples since the beginning of time. So be your true self today before some else takes your culture and sells it back to you tomorrow.*
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 woman 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 as “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 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 typically 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.