Waist beads are created to be worn below the belly. They are made with just about any kind of material including shells, gemstone, glass, plastic, pearls, or even clay and wood. Women of all shapes and sizes and from different tribes and cultures wear waist beads. The Bebidi, Jigida or Ileke Idi, otherwise known as waist beads, is indeed one ornament that is fascinating.
Waist Beads can be worn at all times, even while bathing or sleeping. They serve as symbols of sensuality, fertility and rites of passage, passed down from mother to daughter. There are superstitions about pregnancy and the energies of the Earth. Some see them as conveyors of positive energy and healing.
The reason for wearing waist beads varies from woman to woman. Some wear them strictly for fashion, some women even use them as an instrument of weight control; when the strands start getting tight, it’s time to do something about your weight. This practical idea has also filtered down from the early African tribal women and is one that still works today. While you will find many tales that are steeped in tradition, certainly, modern culture has also adopted beads wearing as a fashion trend.
In Africa, waist beads are worn in diverse ways depending on the culture and ethnicity of those who wear them. For example, the Ika people of Delta State of Nigeria wear beads on their necks, waists, hands and legs depending on the occasion. While some prefer to wear them under their clothing only to be seen by themselves or their spouses, others flaunt them on bare bellies or even over their clothing.
However, the colours in African waist beads are open to different interpretations. Some traditions equate certain qualities to various hues: Blue beads could signify knowledge, healing, peace, truth, harmony; a cooling colour symbolizing faith, devotion, and deep insight.
Green colour beads connote prosperity, hope, harmony, healing and ripening; encouraging the wearer to love nature and be generous, humble and self-controlled.
Red represents self-confidence, vitality, sexual energy, passion and courage;
while yellow beads imply wisdom, knowledge, clarity, increasing awareness and calming nerves.
Waist beads are proudly African, beautiful and colourful. When worn properly, they can add to the beauty of a woman’s waist as well as draw attention to her.
They come in a variety of different colours and designs. Some of the more intricate designs that include charms and specialty beads may require special attention, wear, or care.
Here are a few tips on how to wear and care for your waist beads.
HOW TO MEASURE YOUR WAIST
We all have different body sizes and shapes, so how waist beads lay on each body differs. To measure your hips for beads, use a string or thin rope to pass round your waist under your navel; allow room for the string to rest comfortably against your skin and above your hips or centre curve lines without falling down past your backside. If you have a high back line, your beads are likely to settle above the dip in your back (sacral curvature). In this case, measure from the lowest area in the dip of your back and curve your string under your navel. You can tie your string and do a pull test to make sure your beads will not fall off. Once you are sure about your desired fit, remove string and measure it with a ruler or tape measure.
HOW TO WEAR WAIST BEADS
Waist beads are meant to be worn low to the waistline, below the navel, and under the belly and clothing. They are carefully worn to prevent them from damaging; if they are long enough they can be won over your head, if it not, wearing them directly across your waist is another way. You can perform regular daily activity with most waist beads on, including bathing, swimming, and exercising. 90% of women have natural shape that allows them the ability to remove beads over their heads like a shirt. As you move the beads up your tarsal, you may gain enough inches in space to roll over your bosom, pass carefully through your arms (0ne by one), and lastly over your head. If your bosom area or shoulders are much wider than your hips, you may not be able to remove them easily.
HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR WAIST BEADS
Your waist beads have the potential to last for several years even with daily wear, if cared for properly. Because waist beads are worn low to the hips, you are likely to tug at them when removing your garments daily, or engaging in interactive/body contact sports or activities. Nylon strung waist beads and beads made with beading wire can both last for years. They can break prematurely if exposed to products with chemical properties that can break down or alter these materials. If you are planning for a spa day, remove your beads before sinking into that mud bath. Nothing muddy is fun to clean. Often, women forget their beads are on their body as they become adjusted to weight of the beads. Thus, you must be mindful of your beads, especially when going to the bathroom; feel for your beads first before you pull down to protect from sudden breakage.
WILL PUTTING WAIST BEADS IN WATER CAUSE DISCOLORATION?
Depending on where you bought your waist beads, discoloration and breakage can be premature. When you purchase beads made with good quality material, be rest assured that your bead will last longer. After bathing or swimming, make sure to pat your beads dry with a towel. For decorative, sterling silver or metal beads that may tarnish or present premature discoloration over time, you should follow the instructions provided with your purchase.
BY MAIMUNA BAGUDU