African Waist Beads : The African Lingerie

Do it for the culture sis.

Many believe that the history of waist beads dates to antiquity, as far back as the 15th century. The history begins in ancient Egypt where they were called “girdles” and worn by women as a status symbol. I do not remember how old I was when I first got waist beads but I remember that my grandmother got them for me. Year by year, as I grew up, it became a tradition between us.

In West Africa, the tradition was made popular by the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria. The beads are worn as a celebration of womanhood, sexuality, femininity, fertility, healing, spirituality, body shaping, protection and wealth.

Waist beads holds certain fascination for many, including myself.

Waist beads are believed by many to have been dipped and soaked in some remedies to entice, charm and trap men. Yoruba woman are known to have once laced beads with charms and fragrances that would be considered irresistible to the opposite sex. Wearing beads for the seduction of men is still one of the primary reasons some women wear them. In the past, charmed beads were worn to protect women against certain forces that may be radiating negative energy around them. In pregnancy, it is believed to be a protector of the unborn baby and the mother.

Also, many 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. Traditional waist beads are strung on cotton cord and without a clasp or a hook they can be a good tool to measure weight gain and loss. They do not stretch so they will either break or continue to roll up the waist when you gain weight or roll down or eventually become so loose they will fall off when weight has been lost. I personally use this technique.

I’ve been wearing waist beads for as long as I can remember. Only God knows how many I broke because I always take them on and off depending on what I am wearing and depending on my weight gain and loss. My mum is always shouting at me because I like wearing tight jeans and that you can clearly see the shape of my waist beads, it is something she considers « disrespectful » and « rude ». I grew up having in mind that they aren’t meant to be seen . It doesn’t however stop me from loving them. I love how they remind me of my African culture, they really make me feel like a woman !

The waist beads in truth are associated with sex and sexuality. Young girls wear waist beads to show they are growing into young beautiful women that are ready for marriage. Waist beads when worn properly are beautiful things, if you enjoy wearing tight clothes, please take them off. I feel like it doesn’t give a nice image of you when your waist beads are showing regardless of who you are.

To me waist beads are very private and personal and yourself and your partner should be able to see them. Of course, if they are showing when you are in the personal comfort of your house, that is not a problem but I feel like it shouldn’t be okay for anyone and everyone to see this side of your femininity.

I learnt that waist beads have been named according to the tribes wearing them. In northern Nigeria for example it is called ‘Jigida’ while the Yoruba’s refer to it as ‘Bebedi’ and the Igbo’s to ‘Mgbàji’. Some tribes also refer to them as ‘gri-gri’ in reference to how they were used to charm, ‘Jel-jelli’, ‘Bin bi’, ‘Ileke Idi’, ‘Baya’ and ‘Djalay djalay’.

The confidence of many the women who wear waist beads is boosted with the strings of beads round their waist.

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Generally colours play an important role in our lives and when some get drawn to bright colours others tend to prefer darker ones. Although the meaning of the colour of waist beads varies from culture to culture, from tribe to tribe, the all share the common believe that they are very important and powerful. Choosing the right colour of beads remains as important as its design, flexibility, length and weight.

Here are the meaning of some bead colour :

Let’s interact,

Ladies, Do you wear any and how does it make you feel ? If not, would you like to wear some ?

Gents, How do you feel about women with waist beads ? Do you like them ?

Let me know in the comment section below 


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