Waistbeads have grown in popularity over the last 5 years. The Afrocentric body jewelry has spawned fashion editorials and even Tupperware-style house parties. However, there’s more to these colorful adornments than an elegant, stylish flair. Waistbeads are packed with history.
Waistbeads originated in Africa and can be traced back to Egyptian hieroglyphics. They were a symbol of status for top-ranking women in Egypt. As they migrated throughout the continent, they became symbols of femininity, spirituality, and protection.
Though the name waistbeads denotes wearing them around the waist, the styles and materials are now used for other jewelry pieces such as cuffs, anklets, and necklaces. The beads are often made of clay or glass and combined with a variety of other jewels or raw materials like silver, gold, horn, shell, and gemstones.
The resulting look is soft, regal, and luxurious; a fashion statement that demands respect and indicates sensuality and liberation.
Aside from the social statement that waistbeads enable, they’ve also been used for weight loss. As the wearer’s waist expands and the beads get tighter, it serves as a warning sign to curb eating habits and reduce intake. They’ve also been used as waist shapers, in place of the popular waist trainer corsets that have trended in recent years.
Though it’s possible to purchase waistbeads from a wide range of specialty retailers, it’s even more empowering to make your own.