By Kate Halim
As a single girl, Nonnie Aneke’s brother forbade her from wearing anklets. He didn’t give her any reason for his decision but he made it clear that he didn’t want to see her wear ‘leg chain’ like other girls in their neighbourhood.
Even though Aneke loves anklets and beads, she obeyed her brother until she got married. After she had children with her husband, she bought anklets and started wearing them but she would face another opposition from her husband.
“My husband didn’t want me to wear them. He told me that men see women who wear them as low life girls and I asked him when his own perception about me wearing anklets changed because he wasn’t like that while we were dating,” Aneke stated.
Aneke was shocked when her husband told her that he is not comfortable with her wearing anklets because all the men he knows say that it is a way to spot call girls.
She added that these days, she only wears them indoors because she doesn’t want her husband reminding her of being identified by the men he knows as a whore. Aneke wonders how the society degenerated mentally to this level.
Different ages, same fad
Nancy Adaeze is a lawyer who loves to wear anklets. The young woman told Saturday Sun that she wears them because they are extremely beautiful and feminine.
According to Adaeze, they are sultry, just like waist beads and she believes they enhance femininity and sex appeal. She wears them for fashion and ignores what people say about women who wear anklets.
She said: “They are colourful and add extra beauty to a basic dressing. Imagine a gold coloured anklet, sitting pretty above a black or red shoe, it’s absolutely beautiful.”
Lolo Nneka is a businesswoman and a mother of three. She sells perfume oils and has been wearing anklets since her third year in the university.
Even though she has been called names by some people who have reservations about women who wear anklets, she simply doesn’t care. She said she spends good money on this fashion accessory.
Nneka stated: “I have been called so many unprintable names a lot of times, from ‘ashawo’ to lesbian because I wear anklets. I wear it strictly for fashion. I feel beautiful in them and they make me feel confident. I buy quality anklets from the range of 4000 to 12, 000 naira.”
Chinyere Ogbonna is a realtor who also sells fashionable unisex clothes, shoes and bags. She said that she loves anklets because they make her feel so beautiful. Ogbonna started wearing them since 2008 while she was still in the university and loves how her feet looks when she wears them.
To Ogbonna, anklets are just pieces of jewellery. She noted though that over-religious Nigerians have added hidden and negative connotations to wearing anklets.
“I wear anklets for fashion purposes just like I wear bracelets, wristwatches, earrings and bangles. I don’t know why some men now look strangely at women who wear anklets as if they are doing something bad. I don’t understand it,” she added.
Tracy Nor told Saturday Sun that she loves anklets but she doesn’t wear them regularly. Nor said that she has been called a prostitute several times because of her anklets but noted that she just laughs such accusations off.
Nkoyo Umoren is married with children. She loves anklets and wears them very well. Umoren doesn’t believe there’s anything to it because if you can wear a bracelet without feeling guilty about doing something wrong, you can also wear anklets and look beautiful.
Umoren said that she started wearing them in 2016 but stopped after she came back to Nigeria because she was afraid of the name calling. But later on, she started wearing them again. Umoren told Saturday Sun that she loves wearing anklets because they make her feel very feminine and bold. She stated that she almost feels rebellious when she wears them.
A lawyer based in Abuja, Jade Adaeze Olise wears anklets for fashion alone. She has been wearing them for years, since her undergraduate days because she loves jewelleries.
Olise said: “Even though some people say it’s an invitation that you are free to have sex in certain cultures, for me, there’s no other meaning attached to wearing anklets.
According to her, “I can’t date or have a romantic relationship with a man who doesn’t like me wearing anklets. I also don’t keep tabs on how much I spend on anklets because I buy them all the time.”
Precious Ajuzie is a lawyer. The young woman wears anklets for fashion and her man likes it as a bonus. She started wearing them in 2019.
Ajuzie said she doesn’t get annoying stares from people while wearing anklets because it’s just a piece of jewellery and she doesn’t date men who give her stress so there’s no reason to fear whether her man likes anklets or not.
On her preference, Ajuzie said she buys steel chains once in a year and feels normal putting them on. She said she can spend up to N6000 on one anklet.
Estee Akanmu is in her 50s and has been wearing anklets for over five years. She said she started wearing them because someone in her office wore it to work one day and she loved it. So, she has worn them since then. She added that even her daughter wears it too because she loved it on her.
Akanmu noted that no one has ever called her names for wearing anklets but some people have queried why she wears them and she simply told them that she loves anklets and that usually silences them.
“I have not bought recently because I always buy many and I can use one for more than a year. I make sure I buy quality ones that don’t rust or fade,” Akanmu said.
Chukwusomaga Lilian Udoka is baker based in Owerri. She said she wears ankle beads because they beautify her fine legs. The young lady who has a thriving baking business online doesn’t care about being called names for wearing what she loves.
Udoka said she wears them as a fashion statement and not for anyone or maybe because she’s a lesbian like some men think or call her. According to her, women shouldn’t be made inferior about what they choose to wear.
Udoka revealed that she has been wearing anklets since 2011 when she was in year one in the University. To her, wearing anklets has become a part of her. She however noted that she hasn’t been denied any job because of her anklets.
Twenty-six-year-old Uchechi Okeke is a graduate of English who sells and wears anklets. Okeke has been doing this business for over three years and has made money to pay her bills, support her widowed mother as well as her two siblings.
Okeke said that her customers are mostly young ladies in their 20s and 30s but she has observed lately that more women in their 40s and 50s have started patronizing her too.
Okeke added that she sells her gold, silver and symbol anklets on her Instagram handle and delivers them to her clients all over Nigeria for a fee. She said that wearing anklets have no hidden meanings attached to it as it can be worn on either ankle.
Juliet Omocho just turned 18 and she has been wearing anklets since she left secondary school in 2019. Omocho revealed that she loves anklets and begged her mother to buy some for her after she turned 16.
Omocho told Saturday Sun that even though her mother is conservative and doesn’t wear anklets, she didn’t reprimand her or stop her from wearing anklets. She also said that her mother shuts down anyone who says something negative about her wearing anklets.
“The first time I told my mum about my love for anklets and waist beads, I expected her to raise the roof, report me to my dad or even scold me but surprisingly, she didn’t do any of that. She said okay and bought me two anklets the following week from Lagos Island market”, Omocho added.
Isabella Iloka started wearing anklets in 2018 when she was in final year in the university. She revealed that she loves how sexy it looks on her legs. She added that she also loves how it pisses people off seeing it on her legs and not able to say anything about it, because they know that she won’t spare them.
Iloka said: “I love being rebellious and giving the middle finger to societal expectations of virtuousness. I guess I am a prostitute then for wearing anklets. Every woman in Nigeria in automatically a whore, so it’s good.”
But not all women believe anklets are good. Lois Omolola doesn’t wear anklets. She said she doesn’t have a particular reason for her decision, but she admires women that wear them.
According to Omolola, “I don’t think I will be comfortable wearing it. I just want my legs free. I want to paint my toenails, do my pedicure and move on.”
Thirty-year old Cynthia Onyema doesn’t know why young ladies wear anklets. The shoe seller at Yaba market said she doesn’t get tired of preaching to those that wear ankles among those that patronize them.
Onyema said: “Anklets are not meant for decent women. I don’t wear them and I made sure I stopped my younger sister from joining the fad. In the Bible, it was slaves who wore anklets as a means to be recognized by their masters. I always preach to my customers to stop wearing them.”
For Emmanuella Salami, wearing anklets is not something she sees herself doing because of her strict Christian background. Salami said that her parents will likely skin her alive of they catch her wearing them.
Salami told Saturday Sun that on many occasions, her parents had warned her not to join the fashion craze of ladies wearing anklets or they would disown her.
Rebecca Ireh studies Mass Communication at the University of Lagos. The 20-year-old, who is the only girl of her parents, said she doesn’t wear anklets because she doesn’t like them.
“In the hostel, there are many girls my age who started wearing anklets just to belong. I don’t wear them because I don’t like them. But I don’t judge girls who do,” she told Saturday Sun.
What some Nigerian men think
Mr. Bukola Adeyemi said he likes women who wear anklets, especially younger women, noting that the fad adds beauty to their legs, especially women who have smooth legs. To him, it is just jewellery like earrings, necklaces and waistbands.
According to Adeyemi, men who claim that only prostitutes and lesbians wear anklets suffer from hallucinations of the mind.
But it’s a different tale for John Anyanwu, 47. He has warned his wife and two daughters against joining the fad of wearing anklets. He took this decision because he believes that women who wear anklets are loose.
“I don’t care what anyone says or how these ladies want to paint this, but wearing anklets is for loose women who are inviting men stylishly to have sex with them. I don’t want any woman in my house wearing that piece of symbolic jewellery,” Anyanwu added.
Mr. Essien Etuk said that when a woman, married or not, wears anklets on her right ankle, she is open to advances from men, which means she’s “available”.
Etuk added that the saying also goes that if a woman wears it on her left ankle, it’s a piece of jewellery.
A businessman based in Lagos, Mr. Dominion Ige told Saturday Sun that the use of anklets by women connotes waywardness and homosexuality. He said he can’t stand ladies who wear and show off their anklets as if it is something to be proud of.
“I hate seeing ladies wearing anklets and I can’t have a relationship not to talk of marrying such a lady. It is only wayward women and gay women who like to wear leg chains. Nobody can say anything to convince me otherwise,” Ige added.
Ige revealed that the meaning of wearing anklets on the right ankle means the woman is single and have no lover, but if a married woman wears it on her right foot, it means that she is looking to have an affair.
Anklets from yesteryears
Anklets are chains or ornaments worn around the ankles. They are now trending among both the young and old on the Nigerian fashion scene. Almost everywhere you turn, you see women of all ages showing off their anklets.
Most women now see them as an essential part of any dressing, whether casual or formal. Some ladies say they don’t feel complete if they don’t wear their anklets when leaving their houses.
Women wore anklets as early as 6,000 B.C.-3100 B.C, way back in the Predynastic period, that mysterious time before history was even recorded.
Excavated Sumerian tombs revealed artefacts of Babylonian women from Ancient Egypt and Sumer, the earliest civilization in Mesopotamia. They constructed anklets from precious stones and metals found in nature, and wore them to denote status and social rank.
Slaves wore leather anklets, while affluent brides and wives flaunted lavish anklets made of precious metals and gemstones.
Also ancient Indian and South Asian women have worn variations of the ankle bracelet for over 8,000 years. In ancient India, wives wore dangling anklets affixed with charms that jingled, allegedly alerting their husbands of their presence so they could cease any displeasing chatter.
In Eastern Asia, women wore a variation of the anklets called the Pattilu, which is what we now know as the barefoot anklet. The Pattilu was a piece of anklets that connect to a toe ring with a series of dangling chains.
Looking at these ancient artefacts provides us with a wide scope of the origins of the ankle bracelet, which helps us understand ankle bracelet meanings today.
Today, ankle bracelet meanings aren’t as symbolic as they once were. Still, there are ideas floating around that are important to address.
Just as women wear wedding bands and engagement rings on their left ring finger, ankle bracelets once symbolized marital status. Historically, anklets were a gift from the groom to the bride to make their nuptials official and known to the world.