A changing body, size, and shape just come naturally with being human. You’ll look gorgeous regardless. That’s what waist beads are for.

African waist beads may look like a simple accessory, but they can have a transformational effect on the wearer. Adorning a waist bead around one’s waist can feel sensual and grounding. Beads wrapped around one’s midsection serve as a constant reminder to be more aware and loving toward one’s body.

Today, waist beads continue to change women’s relationships with their bodies. Before the beads, many testify resentful feelings about their bodies whenever they change in size, shape or color. The experience of pregnancy and birth is life-changing, but what’s surprising is the amount of criticism—specifically body shaming—focused on moms post-baby. “We…live in a world that seems to love babies yet thinks that we should erase any evidence of how they came to be,” wrote Ellen Friedrichs in a post for Everyday Feminism.

Waist beads are like makeup for all the things you don’t like down there. They help to cover the imperfections around the midsection.

Traditionally, waist beads have been used by women to boost their self-confidence for many centuries. Up till today, women who used to hate their bodies are increasingly saying after they wore the beads, they feel beautiful no matter how big or small they looked. The sparkling and fascinating colors of beads help women see themselves in a more beautiful light. Other women feel empowered by waist beads in other ways: a connection to their heritage, a symbol of fertility, or a way to gauge their weight and posture.

Waist beads are an intensely personal item, so there are as many ways to find meaning in them as there are styles of beads. As waist beads grow in popularity, this West African tradition will likely continue to evolve for years to come.

Have you used waist beads to help enhance yourself in any way? Or, do you have plans of getting one? Kindly share your thoughts with us below.