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A woman wearing waist bead
 
You may have seen them, times without number, and probably played with or strummed them sometimes, if you’re a man. You may be wearing some now, or you may have worn them at one point or another, if you’re a lady.
 
Do you know it’s a cultural norm within most Ghanaian ethnic groups for a woman to wear one or more strings of beads on her waist—all the time? Norms such as these are religiously observed by the people of rural societies and small towns.
 
The reasons a woman wears beads on her waist are based on certain beliefs they have and from what they’ve learned by way of personal experiences. Here is what some women say about it:
 
It gives me shape
Boatemaa, 31, one of the ladies told me she wears beads because ‘It gives me shape’. The most popular reason for a lady to wear beads on her waist is for the notions that it accentuates her waist. I discovered that accentuation of the waistline is a desirable feature for ladies.
 
The social construction of a beautiful woman here has body proportion where measurement of the waistline is smaller than those of the bust and hips. The Ghanaian lady believes that wearing waist beads helps her to define her waist in order to meet ‘this standard of beauty’.
 
It makes me beautiful
For some ladies, the waist bead is an essential fashion accessory. There’s a belief among our ladies that a woman who wears waist beads looks more sensuous and beautiful than one who does not wear any.
 
My man finds it attractive
Another popular reason a lady wears the waist beads is for a man’s pleasure. A good number of men, I’ve learned simply can’t get their eyes and hands off those beads. In very private moments, some men hold onto waist beads like they do prayer beads. According to ladies, men have been unhappy on occasions where they were not wearing beads.
 
I want to attract the attention of a man
This reason is probably the most compelling of all the reasons for women, I’ve heard. A woman wears beads to present herself as beautiful and sensuous to a man she desires, just to win his love. In instances such as this one, a woman invests energy, time and money into selecting and acquiring the ‘magic’ colours and designs to wear.
 
At a point in time, I asked one of the ladies, Vera: ‘Is there a time when a lady is happy she’s wearing waist beads?’

“Yes, all the time that she’s wearing it.” She replied “But most especially when she gets a new set of beads, and she’s ready to show it to that special someone”.
 
One of the best compliments a man can get from a lady, I’ve learned, is when she wears his name on her waist, just close to and a few inches above the ‘arena’.
 

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A woman wearing waist bead   You may have seen them, times without number, and probably played with or strummed them sometimes, if you’re a man. You may be wearing some now, or you may have worn them at one point or another, if you’re a lady.   Do you know it’s a...