By now, you may be one of the thousands of people who have seen, shared, tweeted, or retweeted this picture of a little girl with the Hermione sign at the Women’s March this weekend. It was taken at the Boston Women’s March and has appeared in various “best of” lists, including ones in Bustle, Buzzfeed, and A Mighty Girl. People posted the image with captions like “THIS,” “I’m crying,” “She knows what’s up,” and, “These Hermione signs are so lit,” and in many other languages I’m assuming saying the same thing.
I get chills every time I see this picture. It is powerful and beautiful and inspiring.
It is also my kid.
My husband and I took our 6-year-old daughter Sylvia and our 3-year-old son to the Boston Women’s March this past Saturday, along with 175,000 other people in Boston and millions worldwide. Many of us had homemade signs related to the various areas we feel are under attack in this new administration. Sylvia’s sign, which read, “When Voldemort is President, we need a nation of Hermiones,” was immediately a hit with nearby marchers as we made our way into Boston. We estimated that at least a hundred people politely asked us if they could take a picture of Sylvia, which we always obliged.
Soon, those pictures of Sylvia and her sign started appearing all over the internet. People we didn’t know were posting them and getting thousands and thousands of retweets and likes.
It’s hard to know what makes something go viral and we certainly had no idea tens of thousands of people would see and be inspired by a picture of our daughter. If I were to dissect what happened here, I would break it down as follows:
1. Trump=Voldemort. In our home, we have really tried to not say that guy’s name, because it stands for everything we don’t want in our lives–hate, intolerance, anger, rage, fear, sexism, anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia–you know the list. So referring to him as Voldemort makes incredible sense. “He who must not be named” from the Harry Potter series is the epitome of all evil wrapped up in a powerful being. In the books and movies, Voldemort’s hatred of non-magical beings stems from his fear of the diverse, changing, complicated world around him. He is evil for what he thinks and what he does, and he is most scary when his powers grow. Trump is Voldemort. He is a looming, threatening presence that we must always fight against as long as he is in power.
2. As another great sign I saw read, “Without Hermione, Harry would’ve died in Book 1.” Hermione is smart, brave, fearless, and holds her own with the boys. As this Twitter user wrote: “give little girls good role models and they’ll change the world.” Hermione is that role model and we have seen (if you’ve read all the books!) that she is instrumental in defeating the evil in her world.
3. Her arms. Several people noted that the sign is bigger than Sylvia. But anyone who saw her carrying the sign in the March saw that she carried that sign up above her head for the entire duration of the march, with fierce determination and strong outstretched arms. Her sign was loud and bold and she was going to make sure the whole world saw it, even if it dwarfed her.
4. All the faces. We thought about drawing a Hermione on the poster that resembled Emma Watson’s Hermione, but quickly decided we would put our new Multicultural Crayola Markers to use and make a whole bunch of different looking faces, the faces of little girls who we imagined would make up this nation of Hermiones. One white British girl isn’t enough–she needs those other faces just as much as they need her.
5. That face. For some reason, in this picture that has gone viral, Sylvia has both a tender smile and a look of fierceness that goes right through you. She’s looking at you. She’s not asking you to be a role model; she’s telling you that she’s powerful and smart and fearless. She’s telling you that she understands that the president is evil. And that little girls like her are going to keep fighting evil until it is gone.
Sylvia’s too little to know how many people have seen this photo of her or just why it has resonated so strongly. I think for so many of us, we want desperately to leave a world that is better for our children. That’s why we were so panicked and grief-stricken on November 9th: the idea that we had failed to protect our children from the evils in the world. So maybe this picture of my daughter showed people what it also showed me: that we have raised children who are fierce and strong. That these children have many great role models to look up to–Hermione, Emma Watson, Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, and their own mamas and bubbes, to name a few. They are not naive; they know Voldemort exists in books and, now, in real life. But they also know that Hermione, working with others, ensures that Voldemort is defeated and in the end, that good will prevail. And so will we.
P.S. If this picture happens to come by your feed or a news site you frequent, please tag it with #nationofhermiones. We’re hoping to collect and create resources for other fierce girls out there who want to be part of the fight.