What Are Waist Beads Used For? – 5 Reasons

What Are Waist Beads Used For

Have you ever looked at those colorful, glittery beads on the waist of women of a certain ethnicity and wondered what are waist beads used for? 

Well, these stunning and vibrant beads talk about the ancient traditions of African women who are continuing their practices and bringing them before the modern world. Let’s find out what waist beads are and what they are used for.

What is Waist Beads?

Waist Beads

People all around the world, especially women, are fond of wearing accessories. Waist beads are not just a fashion statement but a traditional African accessory. They are small glass beads adorned on a string and worn by women around their waist; thus, they are called waist beads. They are also popular as belly beads, waistline beads, and beaded waist chains.

One can find waist beads in different vibrant colors, sizes, and shapes. Some women also include other crystals and stones in their waist beads to make them look more attractive and alluring.

Here, every color, crystal, and stone has a deeper meaning, symbolizing more than just fashion and style. For instance, blue beads represent healing and harmony, brown represents stability, and green is about prosperity, fertility, and abundance. Likewise, the evil eye stone protects women from negativity; hamsa protects them from bad luck and evil.

Below are other colors and stones with their meaning-


  • Purple: spirituality, wisdom, royalty
  • Red: vitality, passion, bravery, confidence
  • White: light, truth, purity
  • Yellow: wisdom, clarity, awareness, energy, joy


  • Green aventurine: luck, prosperity, wealth
  • Lapis lazuli: peace, wisdom, truth, insight
  • Quartz: clarity, amplifies other crystals
  • Rose quartz: love, compassion, healing

Which Countries Have A Culture Of Wearing Waist Beads?

Although today we can see women all around the world wearing waist beads out of fashion and style, they have been worn for centuries by women belonging to West African culture. Wearing this accessory is deeply rooted in its cultural, social, and spiritual significance. They are considered a symbol of femininity, fertility, sensuality, and spiritual well-being.

Some African cultures where women often wear waist beads include the following:

  1. West Africa: Women of Yoruba and Igbo culture in Nigeria and Ashanti and Akan culture in Ghana can be seen wearing waist beads, especially during festivals, ceremonies, and celebrations. 
  2. East Africa: Maasai women from Kenya and Tanzania can be seen wearing intricately designed waist beads on special occasions. 
  3. South Africa: Women from Zulu culture wear the beads with their traditional attire as a symbol of femininity and call them “iziqolwane” or “indzila,” in their language.

Central Africa– Women from the Kuba Kingdom in the Democratic Republic of Congo wear waist beads as they carry spiritual significance. 

Why Do People Wear This Waist Beads?

Women of different cultures in Africa wear them for different reasons. Here are some popular beliefs regarding waist beads-

1. For Body Awareness 

Waist beads provide information about the weight gain or loss around the abdomen in females, thus helping keep them aware of their weight and well-being. As the beads are strung on wire or chains, they are not stretchable. When a woman gains or loses weight, it feels tight and loose, respectively, indicating their health. 

2. To Address Maturity 

In many cultures, waist beads signify maturity and are associated with the attainment of womanhood and growth. When girls get their first menstruation, their mothers tie a waist bead around their abdomen, symbolizing their passage into womanhood or into a new stage of life. 

3. To Increase Sensuality 

Women in many cultures wear waist beads in intimate settings to increase their sensuality. Others wear it when they are trying to conceive. Some cultures also have the tradition of wearing waist beads when pregnant as it is believed to provide protection to the mother and the baby growing inside her belly. 

4. To Pass Heritage 

Originating in African culture, wearing waist beads is considered a symbol of pride for African women. It helps them connect to their culture, traditions, and ancestors, thus celebrating their heritage. Even today, modern African women adorn waist beads to show their respect for their culture. 

5. To Correct Posture 

Besides cultural significance, waist beads also make women aware of their posture. Depending upon the fat around the abdomen, waist beads adjust and indicate how to sit properly to prevent difficulty in sitting or breathing. They work as a constant reminder to keep the stomach muscles engaged and the back relaxed.

How To Choose The Right Waist Bead For Your Body?

Today, waist beads are used as a fashion accessory in different parts of the world. They increase the beauty of the abdomen, making it look very attractive. From one string to multiple, women can try as much as possible to make the waist look sensual. 

While buying a waist bead, one should know their waist size. Also, decide where you want to wear it- high on the waist, around the belly button, or down at the hips. Once decided, mark the area around the abdomen with a pen and take readings with a measuring tape in both scenarios- while standing and sitting. Make sure you keep the string a little loose, as a string that is too tight or fitted will get uncomfortable. 


Waist beads are stunning accessories from African culture. Today, we can see it around the waist of women in different parts of the globe; they have become a fashion statement. Even though waist beads look simple, once they get around the abdomen, they transform how women look.

From making women feel sensual, waist beads also hold health and spiritual significance. It’s a connection of African women to their heritage and is an intensely personal fashion accessory. Now that we have explained what waist beads are used for, you can get one to look prettier and feel connected to African culture.

Was this article helpful?