Anklets: What Do People Think?

A woman wearing an anklet made out of cowrie shells
Photo by Apostolos Vamvouras from Pexels

My fiancé, Sam, has a face. I can best describe it as a cross between Patience Ozokwor and Cruella de Vil smiling. His eyes are smiling but the curl of his lips tells a different story. I get this face when I talk about making him oil-less meals (per fitfam) or try to convince him biscuits and tea pass as a meal. I also get it when I talk about my love for anklets.

I’ve always loved anklets, despite hearing a lot while growing up that only morally loose women wear them. Moreso, as a Christian woman, there’s the added layer of you being expected not to depict your faith in a bad light. I’ve never really worn an anklet {save for that one time I repurposed my bracelet :)} but they still fascinate me. It’s why I thought to do an article about what men — and women — really think about anklets. I asked on my WhatsApp status that folks share what they think about anklets, and boy, was I surprised! Apparently, it’s not only a measure of your moral standing to some. Who knew? Not me.

“I believe that most [anklets] are spiritually attached and…”

Anklets have been around for a very long time. It has been said that they date as far back as 8,000 years ago (c. 6000 BC) when Egyptian women of all social classes would wear them. They were worn for many reasons, though. For the Egyptian wives of rich men, anklets were not only a gift from their husbands to symbolize marital status, but they also showed off the man’s financial status. Those anklets were usually made from precious stones and priced metals like gold. Anklets worn by women in lower social classes, however, were usually made out of less expensive materials like silver and iron. Historically, ankle bracelets served similar purposes in India, and in North Africa, they are said to have featured in an annual Salt Festival known as “Cure Salee” where unmarried girls wore them to signify their readiness for marriage.

More recently, anklets seem to have become largely a fashion accessory, especially in places like America and Europe. There are still a few spots across the globe where anklets bear strong significance, though, and Nigeria is one. My findings were largely cultural and spiritual, but, as I said earlier, there were a few shockers for me. I’m going to lay it on as I got it. Some responses might be edited for clarity, but that’s it. So, here goes…

Photo by Apostolos Vamvouras on Unsplash

THE MEN WHO LOVE IT
“It’s sexy for my lady to wear anklets.”
- Oluwadamilare
“Fashion evolves every day. I think anklets are cute, regardless of how society sees people who wear them.”
- Tomisin
THE MAN WHO DOESN’T
“I don’t like it. My mom says there’s always a spirit behind any manifestation. So, I believe that most [anklets] are spiritually attached and show a wide girl that can go to the extra length of getting someone.”
- Afam
*I’m guessing that last sentence has something to do with a woman snagging a man.
Moving on, all the women that offered their responses had only good things to say about anklets, except one. And that one take made me realize just how varied the perceptions are toward this particular piece of jewelry. Another respondent offered another angle to the whole anklet business, and I’m really excited she shared her take. Varied opinions excite me, so here goes…
THE WOMEN WHO LOVE IT
“Forget the superstitious and cultural stories that trail this thing. Wearing anklets are super cool. Truth is, besides your footwear, nothing draws attention to the feet. Well, anklets do, and they sit so beautifully. I don’t care what people think. I’m on this train, anytime, any day.”
- Aramide
“I’m a fan of anklets. It’s just a fashion item, but trust Nigerians to always read meaning to things.
My hubby loves it too. I mean, it takes a level of exposure to know that wearing an anklet is mostly for the beauty it gives to the foot/feet.”
- Promise
THE WOMAN WHO SHOCKED ME
Okay, so this one is quite funny, because I’ve been friends with this lovely creature for over 10 years now, and her take is one I had NEVER heard about anklets.
“I personally thought it was like a coded way of identifying homosexuals.”
- Ayodeji
*I’m curious, guys! Anyone else thought this about anklets or know how this perception came to be?

Photo by Sonuj Giri on Unsplash

ANOTHER ANGLE
“I think men wouldn’t mind a woman wearing anklets if she looks like she can provide for herself; they’ll think she’s sophisticated. But if she looks like she’s not financially buoyant, they’ll think she’s slutty for wearing anklets.”
- Adebimpe

Honestly? I never thought of it this way before. Until now, the most mind-blowing thing I had heard about what people think of anklets was from my fiancé. He has a thing against anklets because he has somehow associated them with sex workers, who always wore them during his undergraduate days in Benin.
Different strokes for different folks, eh? Anyone else out there willing to share their opinion of the ankle bracelet? Is it just fashion, or is it something more?

Mary is an Editor at the online women’s magazine, AmoMama, and is passionate about improving quality of life for the African girl child.