It is fair to state that the West has always been and always will be obsessed with svelte looking women. Juxtapose this obsession with the West-African perception of beauty, and you will arrive at the conclusion that, "Beauty does lie in the eyes of the beholder!"
In Ghana, for instance, being voluptuous is deemed ideal. Woe unto the lady who doesn’t possess ample breasts, hips or backside and blessed is she who has a combination of these coveted assets. For, hers’ will be constant adulation and admiration from both men and women alike. With that said, as a young child growing up, I witnessed many women adorning their bodies with waist beads. Size was never a factor in determining who had the privilege of wearing them. Any female could wear waist beads – right from babies to the elderly.
Ever since I could remember, I have always had a strong love for waist beads. And so it was that when the age of reasoning occurred, I took it upon myself to find out why women wore waist beads. I discovered interesting responses to my questions regarding the reason(s) why women wore waist beads. By the way, in order to gain a holistic perspective, I included responses from men too. Ahem, I must confess that I wasn’t overly surprised by their views. Below, you will find a summary of my findings:
Apparently, my ancestors found an ingenious modus operandi for weight management in the absence of bathroom scales. A tightening fit indicated to the wearer that additional weight had been gained whereas a loser fit signaled weight loss. Ideally, the wearer’s goal was to maintain the initial fit of the waist beads since waist beads tended to be worn for a long time. Bear in mind that these waist beads are water-resistant and fade resistant. The wearer can bathe in it and sleep in it without having to take it off.
With a twinkle in his eye, a bosom male friend of mine(one of the men I questioned) told me about his admiration of waist beads on the body of a female. I happily listened to him as he spoke. "There is an amazing, exciting and arousing quality about a voluptuous woman adorned in waistbeads"…Yep, he said it… "voluptuous" :). "Such a woman can ask me anything and my answer will be yes" . Okay, African Delilah, your work with my African Samson is going to be easy. No challenges. Simply wear a couple of waist beads and anything you desire from him will be yours!
Rites of Passage
Among the Krobos, an initiation rite, known as Dipo, is celebrated by pre-teens and teens as a symbol of their transition to adulthood. The Krobos are known for the production of high quality, authentic, African beads. It is no wonder that they have beads named after them! They also tend to assign tangible and non-tangible value to beads.
How to Wear Waist Beads
In order to be comfortable, it is recommended that waist beads be worn directly below your stomach. The fit should be somewhat loose. Traditionally, they are worn underneath one’s clothes. All the same, a woman is free to wear them however she sees fit. As I stated initially, any woman of any size can wear them.