A Little on the History and Why Women Wear Waist beads

For centuries waist beads have been worn by women in West African countries.  They've recently become more popular here in America and other western countries as women learn what they are and want to incorporate into their daily routine, or find an accessory that complements their personal style.  

At Adinkra Expo, we import authentic waist beads from Ghana which has a rich tradition of making and wearing waist beads.  Traditionally waist beads represent womanhood, sexuality, femininity, healing, fertility, spirituality, and wealth.

These days women wear waist beads for a host of reasons, but some of the most popular reasons are to monitor changes in weight, to enhance femininity, to increase sexual energy, for good posture, or to invoke certain emotional or spiritual qualities.

As you can imagine, centuries ago when the technology didn't yet exist to step on a digital scale that could report your BMI, metabolic rates and bone vs. muscle mass, African women tied beads around their waists to keep track of their weight.  These days, when our waist beads start to feel a little tight and sit up really high our waists, we know it's time to say no to the chicken and waffles, and order the omelette and fruit at brunch!  Conversely, when our waist beads start to feel a little loose and start to fall a little towards our hips, we can celebrate that we've lost a few inches. C'mon abs!

Historically, waist beads were also worn as ornamentation and were symbols of wealth or femininity; They were also worn to celebrate during traditional ceremonies that celebrated puberty and coming into womanhood.  Some ancient women wore waist beads with certain charms to seduce the opposite sex. In colors, patterns and charms that beautifully contrast against the skin and the natural sway of a woman’s hips, you can fill in the blank! 

Consequently, so many of our customers tell us how powerful and beautiful they feel when they wear their beads under their clothes.  They remind you of the strength and beauty in your femininity and sexuality. Check out what they had to say here

Most women wear a few strands of beads at a time.  The colors you choose may represent energy, patience, stability, ambition, positivity, peace of mind, or many other qualities and attributes. Check out our color guide.

Women also wear waist beads to support the spine and promote good posture because they make you aware of your stomach and when you're slouching. Your mother would certainly approve! 

Some also wear them to enhance movement while dancing, or even just to adorn and accessorize. Black and brown women may wear waist beads to connect with their African ancestry and celebrate the culture.  They are also a beautiful reminder to be aware of and appreciate your body. 

 Ok so you've decided to buy a few strands of waistbeads from Adinkra Expo! Your next decision is to decide how you’d like them to fit and where you want them to lay (see image).  Most of our beads are traditional tie-on beads that are approximately 47 inches in length.  The 47 inch length beads comfortably fit women who are size S-XL (up to Size 16), and you adjust these to fit your waist or hips.  If you prefer longer beads, we offer extended length waistbeads in 60 inches in limited styles here.  Lastly, we offer a selection of waist beads that are secured with a clasp.  Shop clasp closure beads here!

Traditional Waist beads are really easy to tie and are secured in 3 steps!

Decide where you want to tie your beads – on your waist, you hip or lower hip.  

*If you have purchased beads with a clasp, you will need to measure your waist in inches (see below)

  1. Push the beads back, make sure no string is showing and tie the knot 3 times.
  2. Cut the excess thread but make sure to leave some string after the room.  We recommend allowing yourself an extra ¼- 1/2 an inch for breathing room.

*Please Note: If you cut too close to the knot, the knot will push out and your beads will likely pop.  You can use the excess beads to tie an anklet or bracelet!

*For our clasp closure waistbeads, you will have to know your measurements in inches.  Please remember to allow yourself breathing room of ¼-1/2 an inch.  We recommend sizing up rather than sizing down. 

Please see the video on how to tie here or on our Tutorials page. 

Shop our full assortment of authentic Ghananian waist beads, jewelry and clothing at www.adinkraexpo.com.

While this practice originated in many West African cultures, women of any race or ethnicity can wrap a pair of waist beads around her waist.  We just encourage you to understand the history behind them, share their roots, why you choose to wear them, and share Adinkra Expo with them so they can purchase a few strands for themselves!

Shop our full assortment of authentic Ghanaian waist beads, jewelry and clothing at www.adinkraexpo.com
January 26, 2021 — Rita Kusi


Sophia Moller

Sophia Moller said:

Yeah, you wrote something interesting about “A Little on the History and Why Women Wear Waist beads”. Thanks for sharing this information.


Cassandra Thomas

Cassandra Thomas said:

I see you have waistbeads representing Jamaica. I’d love some representing Haiti… Can you make some?

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