One of the most transformational techniques used to combat body shame is “mirror work”.
Twenty minutes into Episode 3 of Netflix series - Sex, Love, and Goop - Black intimacy coach, Amina Patterson, introduces participants to the practice of mirror work: looking in the mirror and really seeing yourself as you are. This can have many benefits and Waist beads can add to this process adding a physical meditation touch to conscious body appreciation. One of the implicit cultural significance behind waist beads is their intimacy. Their proximity to the body, skin, and always on functionality build a sense of increased body awareness/authenticity, greater sense of sensuality, encouraging its wearer to move with intention.
The simplicity of the beads along with their color and non-intrusive nature make it an almost therapeutic adornment. They make an otherwise intimate and potentially triggering experience such as looking in the mirror a kind, light, playful and loving one. This allows you to reassociate your body with joy instead of guilt and shame.
In fact, one of the first things I recommend new African waist bead wearers do once they have received their waist beads is to put them on and go stand in front of a mirror in their underwear.
Greet yourself with a smile. Cradle your middle area (aka belly, womb, fupa, etc) and repeat words along these lines:
- “I’m so grateful for this body that has moved me through life.”
- “I love my body. I am beautiful. I am whole.
- “I’m here. I’m worthy. This is my experience right now, and it’s great.”
This exercise is incredibly simple and can be done getting out of the shower in the morning. If you're not quite yet ready to look at your body, hold your phone in selfie mode and smile as you rub your belly out of frame. All of this has a transformational effect. This is a powerful exercise to uplift self esteem/confidence and the beads a helpful reminder of self care and self love.
Remember, you are uniquely you and no one can change that. Over time, a regular mirror work practice will evolve into a habitual beautification ritual. Give mirror work with your waist beads a try and let us know how it goes!For more on mirror work, watch Sex, Love, and Goop on Netflix. Colors/styles recommended for new beginnings and channeling joy and positivity around your body at the Toffie Shop are: Esi, Nala, Efia.