The 10 Stages Of Attempting Bantu Knots

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Clear Channel.
I wrote a story back in May about the cultural appropriation of the mislabeled "twisted mini-buns," which are better known as Bantu knots. "Bantu" is a word that describes the Zulu people — which is why they're also referred to as Zulu knots. The traditional style was used to identify African people who spoke the Bantu dialects. Nowadays, the term mostly refers to a large group of languages that are spoken by millions of people living in Africa.

While the hairstyle has roots that reach back thousands of years, it most recently gained popularity due to the natural hair movement (in addition to a brief stint in the '90s — lest we forget Scary Spice's epic knots). It's commonly used as a protective 'do for those with curly or tightly coiled hair. You create it by sectioning off hair of any texture and twisting it into tiny knots. This helps to elongate your curl pattern, or add waves or curls to straight hair.

History aside, I think anyone who's attempted a knot-out (including myself) knows that it's notoriously hard to master. The phrase "practice makes perfect" may as well have been invented for this hairstyle — but it's a struggle we endure because of the flawless results. Click through to check out all the stages of getting Bantu knots right.
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Stage 1: Doing Your Research
Your mind's made up, you've carved out time in your day to try the style, and you have an arsenal of products on hand. But first things first: You watch ALL the YouTube tutorials and scroll through every #bantuknot tag on Instagram.
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Stage 2: Starting Out
Five YouTube videos, one deep-treatment, and a couple more YouTube videos later (just in case), you finally get to the styling. You section off your hair, detangle, apply your product, and start the twisting process. Smooth sailing, right?

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Stage 3: Starting Out, Take 2
Wrong. It's a cute and easy style, they said. Anyone can do it, they said. You quickly realize the art of perfecting Bantu knots is one you have yet to master. Your knots aren't twisting the way you'd like them to, and they keep unraveling no matter how tight you attempt to make them. Sigh.
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Stage 4: Getting The Hang Of It
After more than a few failed attempts, you finally master the twist-and-pin process. One down, just...15 more to go.
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Stage 5: Saying A Little Prayer
Now that you've made your knots, it's time to send up some prayers that they'll come out exactly as you envisioned (a.k.a., like all the YouTube videos you've watched — and re-watched).
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Stage 6: The Sleep Struggle
You nestle into bed, only to realize that sleeping in the style is virtually impossible. Have you ever tried to get some shut-eye with more than a dozen knots digging into your head? Yeah, not fun.
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Stage 7: Morning Excitement
Hop out of bed, turn on your smile, take a look in the mirror, and get excited! It's like the first day of school, y'all. You can't wait to show off your new, voluminous 'do, which everyone will envy while showering you with compliments. You're living your best life. You're basically Beyoncé. You got this.
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Stage 8: Disappointment All Around
You start to undo your knots, only to realize that they haven't properly dried — and have resulted in a complete fail of a hairstyle. The curls are lackluster, part of your hair is frizzy while another part is damp, and it looks like your best effort to sleep gracefully backfired since half of your mane is smushed.
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Stage 9: Acceptance
You decide to just go with it. It doesn't look that bad, right? Well, you have to be at work in 20 minutes, so you don't have much of a choice either way.
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Stage 10: Holding Out Hope
You vow to try again in a couple of days. Practice and patience are one hell of a combination, but it'll all pay off. Bantu knot-out, how we love to hate you.
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