Tag Archives: waist beads

Waist Beads

Context: The informant is my sister (LC) who lives in Oakland and is a member of the diverse community there. The following text is transcribed from a phone call.

Main Text (LC): “I purchased these waste beads from a tent in Oakland. They are an old African tradition that has been brought over to America. Women wear them around their waist and they move if she gains or loses weight. They are kind of niché and cool and modern now while also being used as a weight-loss tool. The culture in Oakland added a new layer of symbolism to these beads by adding different chakras to the waist beads. Each color represents a different chakra and empowers the women who wear them in different ways.”

Analysis: These waist beads are a piece of material folklore that has come with its people to the United States from Africa. They originally more of a fashion piece but are now considered more culturally important to the African American community in Oakland and thus have developed new symbolism with the variations in chakra. The community in Oakland is very accepting and people love to share pieces of their heritage and ethnicity, which has created a mixing pot of folklore.