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When People Dressed for the Women’s March, Levity Met Anger

Hundreds of bright pink pussyhats took Washington on Saturday.

Three young women wear Women’s March gear, standing in front of pink signage.
A group at the Women’s March on Saturday.
Photos: Mike Shane for Racked

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Aerial photos of the Women’s March on Washington, one of many protests that brought out an estimated three million-plus people around the world on Saturday, show a sea of pink.

It’s the effect of hundreds of individuals wearing brightly-colored hats topped with cat ears. Knit at home and acquired from strangers on bus rides to DC, in hot pink and blush camo, these “pussyhats” were a mass statement against a newly inaugurated president who once bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy.”

A gleeful one, too. The mood emanating from the crowd near the Capitol, a gathering reportedly three times larger than the one at Trump’s inauguration, was warm and convivial.

A woman wears a green dress, a fur coat, and pussy hat, carrying a sign that says “FUCK OUTTA HERE” in green.
A woman attends the Women’s March on Washington.
A young woman wears a red trench coat and an American flag headscarf.
Americana on display.
Janelle Monae, in a black outfit with pearls draped over it, takes a selfie.
The singer Janelle Monae and other women attend the Women’s March.

“There’s so much kindness in the air. At these events, it can sometimes be hard to claim your space because there are hundreds of thousands of people in small streets, but it’s just been a really powerful expression of our values of respect and honor,” says Morgan Dixon, the cofounder and chief of programs at GirlTrek, a health organization for black women.

Her group wore true blue. “Superhero blue,” Dixon says, since GirlTrek calls its volunteers the superheroes of their neighborhoods.

Nearby, a circle formed in a packed area behind the event’s stage, and women took turns whipping off their bras (and bralettes, for the millennials) from underneath their shirts, swinging them overhead like lassos, and hanging them in the branches of a nearby tree.

A woman wearing all-white tosses her bra into a tree.
Jana Cunningham takes off her bra.

“I feel like our bodies are being restricted by conventions that we didn’t design,” says Jana Cunningham of Brooklyn, after releasing her bra into the wild to whoops and cheers from her peers.

She was talking about her dislike of bras, but her comment applies more generally. For all the external displays of levity on view, from bra-shedding to glittery makeup, anger and disappointment brought everyone here. The delightful sight of a burly older man with a white beard wearing a hot pink pussyhat wouldn’t exist if our new president hadn’t talked openly about sexually assaulting women on camera.

A woman smiles over her shoulder; she wears a hot pink hat, sunglasses, and a turquoise shawl with names of her friends printed out in paper and taped to it.
“I’m a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. That’s why I’m here and wearing the names of a lot of my friends who are water protectors that couldn’t be out here for this,” says Jessie Jordan of Richmond, Virginia.
A young man wears a “Make Africa Great Again” hat.
A young man attends the protest on Saturday.
An older man with a white beard wears a hot pink pussy hat.
“I’m here for all the different causes against Trump, from pussy grabbing to my Medicare,” says Paul from Michigan, who declined to give his last name. “I came out of Boston, people had stuff they were passing out on the bus. We had buttons and hats.” [Ed note: Including this one.]

Cas Holman was visible from yards away. Beneath her dark coat and scarf, she wore a baggy pair of navy and orange striped overalls, almost circus-like in their loud simplicity.

She explained that she got them for Christmas from her best friend, Gwen, who was dressed more quietly in shades of denim, black, and gray. (“We’re queers, we go to a lot of parades, and they’re nothing if not a party,” Holman says of her outfit choice.) Both wore pieces of fabric screen printed with the words “Imagine Equality” on the backs of their jackets.

A woman poses in orange and navy striped overalls in front of the Capitol building.
Cas Holman’s Christmas overalls.

“My friend Abby Walton made hundreds, at this point probably thousands, of these,” Holman says, referring to the screen prints. “Her way of dealing, working through this, is just making these and posting them on Instagram, like, ‘Who wants them?’”

Despite her bright outfit, Holman says she also felt weighed down while preparing her protest gear.

“For weeks, I was like, ‘What’s my protest sign?’ But it’s also been some dark times, so motivation was low in the follow-through category,” Holman says. “And at some point I was like, you know, I can actually just be there. I can just come and that matters to me, even if I don’t have a giant sign or a big costume.”