Waist Beads Helped Me Fall Back In Love With My Body


As more Black women proudly share their waist beads online, there are countless comments and posts on social media platforms, particularly TikTok, from non-Black people who are constantly asking Black people whether it’s right for them to wear waist beads too. As always, there is a thin line between cultural appropriation and appreciation. In this respect, cultural appreciation is knowing what the beads symbolise and purchasing them from African-owned businesses, but cultural appropriation is wearing them just because you think they’re a fad. According to Porter, “If anyone is buying, selling, making, or wearing them without giving reverence to them or knowing their proper name, historical context, uses, and purposes, calling them “belly chains” and saying they originated in America or China is not OK.” Porter acknowledges that African people are “very protective” when it comes to the wearing, promotion and selling of waist beads, encouraging non-Black people to buy from the source, not just from a random online store. “Know the history yourself. Do your research and speak of them in a way that doesn’t strip them of their significance, tradition, and practices,” Porter stresses. “Non-Black people can perhaps buy waist beads that are made with beads or stones that are not tied to African culture. Also their waist beads shouldn’t include African shells, Ankh cross or other African cultural symbols,” Zenon adds.


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