The most powerful accessory at the Women's March wasn't those pink hats — but those signs

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 21: Protester's signs are left near the White House during the Women's March on Washington on January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. Large crowds are attending the anti-Trump rally a day after U.S. President Donald Trump was sworn in
Source: Mario Tama/gettyimages
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 21: Protester's signs are left near the White House during the Women's March on Washington on January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. Large crowds are attending the anti-Trump rally a day after U.S. President Donald Trump was sworn in
Source: Mario Tama/gettyimages

On Saturday, millions of people gathered not only in major citiesaround the world — like Washington, D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, Paris and London — but smaller ones too — like St. Petersburg, FL, Moscow, Idaho and Anchorage, Alaska — to take a stand and march in support of women. 

The displays were stunning, with an estimated three million women and supporters of women gathered for the sake of making a statement. Take a look at the crowds and you'll notice a few accessories collectively worn.

Of course, there were the pink knit hats, knit to look like pussy cats (get it?), which so many people wore that at times the crowds looked like a sea of pink. 

Protesters walk up Pennsylvania Avenue during the Women's March on Washington.
Source: Mario Tama/Getty Images
Protesters march during the Women's March on Washington.
Source: Mario Tama/Getty Images

But then there were also the signs. At times, the marches looked not like a parade of people, but a parade of cardboard and posterboard. 

Protesters walk during the Women's March on Washington, with the U.S. Capitol in the background.
Source: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Although plenty of fuss has been made about those pink hats, and just how many people were indeed wearing them, what was perhaps the more powerful — and telling — accessory at these women's marches was actually the signs. 

That's because while the pink knit hat showed unity among the millions, the signs showed just what's at stake here, and why exactly people felt so compelled to gather and march in the hundreds of marches across the world. 

While the pink hats were about uniformity, the signs were really about self-expression. Each sign was unique. They were a platform for people to express exactly what felt most pressing to them. 

At the marches, for some, it was about condemning sexual assault: 

Hands off! From @sarabethster in San Diego.

A photo posted by @cherrybombemag on (@ photo posted by @cherrybombemag on) on

FOR THE WIN #womensmarch

A photo posted by David (@17days) on

For others, it was about taking a stand against any rollback on women's health: 

Power in numbers. Solidarity ?????#womensmarchla sign by @jlbeaverton #womensmarch

A photo posted by Plus Model?? Mom ?? Feminist (@tessholliday) on

Our bodies Our rights #WOMENSMARCH

A photo posted by Rose McGowan (@rosemcgowan) on

???via @marycmanning in DC #dykesigns

A photo posted by ? (@h_e_r_s_t_o_r_y) on

For some people, it was about taking a jab at the current establishment: 

Today was real cool before Spicer fucking ruined everything #womensmarchnyc #goddammitspicer

A photo posted by Matthew Donnelly (@mscottdonnelly) on

#wmnyc?????

A photo posted by diana veras (@mynamesdiana) on

Yes we can ???

A photo posted by Ryan McNally (@maryancarey) on

For other people, it was about celebrating the women who have stood against the rollback of women's rights for decades now: 

A sign at the Women's March on Washington
Source: Rachel Lubitz

To some, it was even as simple as taking a stand for kindness and inclusivity: 

A participant at the Women's March on January 21 in Los Angeles.
Source: Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty Images

And even celebrities and memes made their way in: 

Via @rare_vos from the women's march (in Portland I believe) ???

A photo posted by Katya Zamolodchikova (@katya_zamo) on

A photo posted by Gabby Noone (@twelveoclocke) on

What you'll notice about these signs, too, is that while some were professionally printed, others were handmade, created with sharpies or paint, or printed at home, allowing the signmaker full creative control. 

And it wasn't just the statements that these signs made that were impactful or the time that went into making some of them, but who was holding them. There were the older people, who attended their march sickened that they even felt the need to: 

A photo posted by Kate Berlant (@kateberlant) on

Women's March LA!!!

A photo posted by Billy Eichner (@billyeichner) on

Are you here with us? Share your #WomensMarch photos!

A photo posted by Women's March (@womensmarch) on

And then there were the very, very young people, brought by their parents but still feeling passionate enough to hold a sign of their own. 

Yes he does. #ourfuture #womensmarchonwashington

A photo posted by Teddi (@teddi_teddi) on

Even our kids stay woke! #womensmarch : @travon

A photo posted by Women's March (@womensmarch) on

Can't be there, but I am in spirit! Love this pic from @huffingtonpost #strongertogether #womansmarch

A photo posted by A S H L E Y G R A H A M (@theashleygraham) on

Considering what the signs said, how they were individually made and who was holding them, the signs ended up being the most essential and powerful accessory at the Women's Marches. They showed not just unity, but passion and a determination to make sure their voices are not only heard but seen. 

And this feels like it is just the beginning. 

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Rachel Lubitz

Rachel is a senior Style writer at Mic. She previously worked for The Washington Post's Style section for more than three years. Feel free to contact her at rachel@mic.com.

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