More of The African Diaspora are Discovering the Symbolism Behind Waist Beads
Wearing waist beads is one of the latest fashion discoveries of this generation, but what most are not privy to is the high significance and connection of waist beads to African Spirituality. The symbolism of waist beads runs deeper than a fashion staple—each bead color has an intention that travels back as far as the 15th century. So yes, waist beads are stylish, attractive, sexy even— but it’s important we understand the symbolism surrounding their history.
African America identity is equally nuanced, complex and beautiful. According to noted historian Joseph Harris the African Diaspora is defined “as the voluntary and involuntary dispersion of Africans globally throughout history. and the psychological return of those in the Diaspora to Africa.” Harris’s conclusion couldn’t be closer to the truth. Talk to any African descendant and you’ll quickly learn that the African Diaspora ignited a global tension of longing amongst us. So, it’s no wonder more Black Millennials and Gen-Zs are expanding our spirituality and finding new ways to connect with our African origins. Our Shape Your Waist Beads are the perfect portal to begin those journeys.
The History of Waist Beads
Waist beads are not new to the world—maybe the universe of fashion—but not the world. We can track the first waist beads to women in ancient Egypt. They wore the adornments as status symbols in their time—they called them girdles. The beads however are not exclusive to Egypt. Yoruba woman made waist beads with different colors and essential scents to seduce men, but they were also worn to heal, protect and invite prosperity into their lives. The practices grew and became more intentional, so it’s the Nigerian customs that we can credit for the bead’s popularity.
Ghanaian culture adapted the West African use of waist adornments much different. In some practices it is given to brides before their wedding night and removed only by their husbands. And for other Ghanaian women it is an aesthetic choice—worn to shape the waist and accentuate the hips. Wearing waist beads spans across several countries in Africa and each country has unique intentions. The beautiful irony of the ornaments and their diverse usage are the commonalities that strengthen their purpose and symbolism—one connection is color. The waist bead color meanings are universal.
Understanding African Waist Bead Color Meaning and Benefits
Waist beads are made of small glass beads of different colors—each with a purpose. When choosing waist beads, you’ll want to reflect on what your intentions are in your purchase. If it’s not just an aesthetic or style choice and you’re on a journey to connecting to African Spirituality— consider the energy in your life you’d like to welcome and protect. Because each color has a mission, you can go for an adornment with one solid color or opt for a multi-colored belt and stack the beads. There are so many to choose from but starting with some of the most common colors and their meaning is a great way to start.
Orange waist beads invite optimism and deliver a sense of self-confidence. Orange is a great option if you are feeling low in energy or having a hard time connecting with others—you can wear underneath your clothes for social events, an interview or engagement where you’ll need that reminder of how valuable you are.
Red waist beads are about sexual passion and vitality. These are a great option to balance your creativity and sexual energy. Like orange, red beads offer a boost of self-confidence and independence.
Green waist beads are your go to when we are opening to abundance in health, wealth, nature and a strong sense of grounding. If you are feeling instability, they will help you to feel grounded and in control.
Blue waist beads are a great source of devotion and truth. They symbolize faith, healing and your ability to speak truth to power. Wear this if you struggle with speaking up or setting boundaries.
Purple waist beads represent royalty, power and wisdom. They also welcome increased intuition. Wear this color to invite strong discernment in your life.
The colors are limitless; read the color chart to learn more on the African waist beads color meanings:
How to Wear Waist Beads
Waist beads can be worn on occasion or semi-permanently for months at a time. Most of us see waist beads worn with bikinis or cropped looks, but did you know you can wear them under your clothes? Spirituality is an individual journey, so you can choose to keep your waist beads personal and sacred to you. When it comes to positioning, place them around your waist and adjust based on where you’d prefer them to sit. Our waist beads at Meg Glam are full length and fit 44.” Once adjusted, remove extra beads and tie 3-4 knots to secure.
More and more of the African Diaspora are educating ourselves on the lost traditions and customs of our ancestors. There’s so many practices and stories still yearning to be found, but why not start here? Something as simple as buying a waist bead can be the start of your spiritual journey back home.
Featured photos courtesy of Pan African Alliance
Keywords: Symbolism Behind Waist Beads African waist beads color meaning