By Nadine Matthews,
Special to the AFRO
Donna Storey’s waist bead journey began as a result of her weight loss journey. The Baltimore native, entrepreneur and author of “Waistbeads and Western Society: A Sisterhood…” told the AFRO, “It started off with me wanting to lose weight and needing a way to gauge when I was making progress as opposed to when I wasn’t doing so great.” Storey had changed her diet and wore waist trainers but wanted something more.
Around the same time, she embarked on a journey to learn more about the heritage of her ancestors in Africa and incidentally discovered that waist beads were used all over Africa. Storey said, “They were put on babies to see if they were gaining weight before the naming ceremony. After the naming ceremony, they removed the beads from the boys but left them on the girls.” Storey explained further that the girls would continue accumulating waist beads at key points in life such as onset of menstruation. At marriage, the beads worn in childhood are removed and replaced with white beads. “No other man would be able to see those waist beads except her husband, which also helped create a deep connection between the couple. Historically, when you lay something on your womb, it magnifies ,” Storey said.
Luckily, a co-worker who knew about both of Storey’s journeys returned from a trip to Nigeria and brought back waistbeads, which she gifted her. Storey began wearing them to help with her dieting. “When you eat too much they roll up, if you eat less, they roll down,” Storey said.
She also became more curious about them in general. “I became obsessed with finding out as much about waist beads as possible.” She realized that there was not much information readily available, however. “I had to start really digging to find out the real history and meaning behind it.” She also began a Youtube channel to become a point of reference for others who were seeking information about waistbeads.
Among other things, she found that the wearing of waist beads has to do with “connecting to the seat of divine feminine energy. With the waistbeads on, you are always mindful of your womb.” They also help with improving spirituality. Storey said, “They come with different adornments and crystals that have different vibrations that allow you to manifest different things in your life.” Storey gives the example of rose quartz helping to bring about love, first from within.
The waistbeads, Storey said, also help in meditative practice. “They help with meditation because as you breathe in and out, you feel the waistbeads roll up and down your body.”
Storey cautions though that to get the full effect from waistbeads, from which women from birth through beyond menopause can benefit, you must receive them in the right manner. “In the spiritual community, we believe everything is an exchange of energy. In order to create the waistbeads properly, the person has to set their intention on anything that adorns the waist beads as far as crystals, colors, etc. She sages it to give it positive energy and she infuses it with her energy and sends it to you. When you go into womb wellness, which is what waist beads symbolize, the person you purchase it from is obligated to teach you how it all works.”
It’s also possible to use your own jewelry or belt etc. to create the waistbeads; however there is a caveat. “You could use a regular string or piece of jewelry,” Storey said. “But in order to magnify its strength, you would have to be educated properly and be in the right mindset.”
In addition to her book, Waist Beads and Western Society: A Sisterhood… Storey has also written an accompanying journal, both of which can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Everybody’s Place, and Tracey’s She Shed. She is also on social media spreading the word about waistbeads and the physically and spiritually healthy lifestyle that goes along with it at @anaturalhairstorey.
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