The Beauty Of Waist Beads

Waist Beads 

Made popular in the last few years waist beads are a trend taking over the western world. What are waist beads, where did they come from and who is responsible for its origin? Are they really a trend / fashion statement or a major part of tradition for those responsible for its creation? Waist beads are African jewelry worn traditionally around a women’s torso for a variety of reasons. While they originated in Egypt known as girdles worn for prominence and status they very soon became popular in West Africa.

Why you wear waist beads is a very personal decision however traditionally, in African culture jewelry is seldom meaningless. Waist beads for instance are an age-old tradition with very distinct meanings, symbols, and history that come with it. Traditionally worn as a symbol of femininity, celebration, aristocracy or kept private as a means of confidence or intimate appeal.  When purchasing waist beads it is important to do the research behind the culture before deciding your reasoning for indulging. The explanation behind the symbolism is below 

Femininity and Sensuality

Made by women for women of all body types and sizes, waist beads are worn in Ghanaian culture to signify femininity. Traditionally worn under garments, kept private only for their lover to see as a meaning of sanctity and purity between the couple. For others the beads are worn for seduction to invoke desire from the opposite sex. Waist beads when worn and rattled by wives would symbolize their period of fertility.

Rites of Passage and Symbols of Growth 

Waist beads are also sacred traditions between mothers and their daughters as a rite of passage. From stage to stage of womanhood mothers would adorn their daughters waists with beads during their first menstruation as a ceremonial rite of passage. Each new bead added was a symbol of a healthy life, growth and maturity.

Measurements and Body Shaping

Historically and even today women wear waist beads as a means to keep their shape or gain a figure. It is believed that the beads keep your waist small and hips wide. Waist beads have also been used as a means to measure weight gain and loss. Traditionally they do not stretch therefore if the beads begin to get tight or move higher it is a sign of weight gain. Vice versa when the beads become more loose it is a sign of weight loss. 

The Formation of the Beads

Traditionally only a person of high spirituality would make waist beads. Usually made of beads, shells, stones, specifically chosen with intention. Beads made for women that she would wear for her husband would be completely different than the ones a young woman wears as a symbol of transition to womanhood. Waist beads have become a trend and modernized but historically the spirituality of women’s waist beads as related to the potency and its power were intentional and meaningful. 


Especially in modern times waist beads are worn more for its aesthetic as a unique way to decorate the body. Waist beads are beautiful, shiny and eye-catching, it’s not hard to understand why people outside of African culture are drawn to them. However it is imperative that those who choose to purchase them make the effort to learn their origins as you have done. Thank you for reading, please take a look at our selection of waist beads.