Waist beads are African accessories that consist of small glass beads on a string or wire worn around the waist or hips by women. They are believed to have originated in ancient Egypt.
They hold deep cultural significance peculiar to the different African societies and are thus viewed as a symbol of feminism, fertility, sensuality, and spiritual well-being.
Women use it to adorn their waistline making their hips appear flexible. They come in different shapes and sizes suitable for all body shapes, different people have different views on why they put on the beads. Some of these reasons include,
Sexual attraction, some women wear beads because it is believed to attract the opposite sex. Martha Adhiambo a resident in Kibra stated that when she puts on the beads her husband Phelix Awuor gets turned on. She also puts them on to build her confidence and improve her self-esteem, Steve Onyango says that seeing a woman putting on the beads is the same as seeing her nakedness hence turning him on.
Waist beads are believed to be used as a weight-controlling tool. Cynthia Chepkurui said that she monitors her weight by gauging the behavior of the bead, She believes that when one gains weight the beads would be higher on the waist or feel tight and if one were to lose weight the beads will feel loose and fall further down to the hips.
Waist beads are used as a contraception measure; it is believed that in African societies since there were no improved scientific methods of birth control. Women used them as a control measure and were used to control both the mother and the child.
Martha stated that they use them as ornaments just like necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and other attractive ornaments.