Waist beads refer to a string of gem stones or beads usually worn on the body; dangling around the waistline of a human. Its significance is also the fact that it is a feminine object of beautification, and is a very common jewel amongst the African women.
In the earlier times, these beads usually consisted of plain beads, but following the trend of civilization and modernization, waist beads now include shells, precious gems and other types of jewelry.

The waist bead tradition goes as far back as the 15th century, worn amongst the Egyptian women, who called it girdles at that time. Waist beads have also been worn by different women of several cultures to represent royalty, wealth, confidence, maturity and even spirituality.

Some ladies even add fragrance to the beads just for confidence and beauty.
The major significance of waist beads is the ability to track weight gain or weight loss. These beads are usually a bit fitted around the waistline, and when it gets loose, it implies weight loss, when the beads also become too tight, it is a sign of weight gain.

Many ladies put on these beads to also immediately discover a baby bump; as it usually develops at the middle lower belly of the individual. Waist beads serve as a quick method of body shaping.
The significance of waist beads can also been seen in its colors, as colors were a representation of the lady’s state in the western world. White beads signify purity before marriage and cleanliness, pink signifies beauty and love; purple symbolizes royalty or spirituality; orange or yellow, is joy and vitality, green symbolizes fertility and nature, blue representing truth, red for confidence , brown for earth, etc.
These beads not only differ in colors, but also in design, length and flexibility. Beads are usually thick, thin, multiple or single threaded, identifying status, culture or interest.
A significance of waist bead is that in many cultures it shows the maturation level of the girl child. Some cultural backgrounds ensure once ladies become due for marriage or mating, they put on waist beads, which is an integral part of identification. Sometimes, these beads are also a form of cultural transfer from generation to generation.
For the West African parts, they attach significance of waist beads as an ornament for traditional healing and protection. It is believed to wad off illness, sicknesses and death.
Some traditional areas of Egypt also use these beads to entice their husbands/ lovers. It is believed that a young lady with the regular twenty eight inch snatched waist, who adorns her waist with beads, would get a lot of admirers, especially when she rattles the beads.
It is to be noted also that in modern days, waist beads do not really have a very specific reason for wearing and isn’t really questioned. It is majorly an object of beautification, fashion and style, although there are some beliefs of the beads being an object of voodoo.