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There are spoilers ahead!
The hair on Game of Thrones has arguably spawned its own mini economy. If you search for “Game of Thrones hair” on YouTube, you get over 2.7 million results. Just think about how many billions of views that is, how many ads have been served to people trying to copy Khaleesi’s un-DIY-able braids, how many wigs have been purchased in frustration, and how many people were inspired to make salon appointments to go red because of Sansa or the ill-fated Ygritte, who is nonetheless still the luckiest dead character ever because she had sex in a cave with Jon Snow. Never try to tell me that caring about hair is superficial.
This show has hooked people in, and the fantastical hairstyles are one way to get a piece of the fantasy in real life, since dragon eggs are hard to come by. The hairstyles are also really fun to analyze; if you’re a fan of the show, this is a guilty pleasure, one that’s honestly become so distracting that I will pause a scene to scrutinize a hair bauble or get a better look at how a braid’s been plaited.
Hair designer Kevin Alexander has said in past interviews that he makes very deliberate decisions when considering the characters’ hair to reflect their story arcs. This season, the theories about the hair have been breathlessly documented all over the internet to an extent that I haven’t seen in seasons past.
To catch you up before the season 7 finale, here are the hair theories floating around out there, as well as a few of my own.
Sophie Turner, the actress who plays Sansa, made the media rounds earlier this summer after she was named a Wella ambassador. Talk inevitably turned to her Sansa hair, about which she told Refinery29, “Sansa’s hair is constantly reflecting the people she’s learning from, or mimicking, or inspired by at the time.”
Everyone proceeded to scrutinize her hair each episode to determine who she was mimicking this season as she comes into her own as a leader. Is it Cersei? Eh. I personally agree with BuzzFeed that she’s more likely going full-on Stark and channeling her dead mother, Cat. Let’s just hope her fate isn’t the same. (Though with Arya acting like a complete sociopath all of a sudden, who knows.)
Mother of Dragons, Queen of the $7,000 Wig, Giver of Lustful Looks to Her Maybe-Nephew, Maker of Questionable Decisions — whatever title you want to give her, Dany’s hair indisputably defines her. It’s complex, twisted, high-maintenance, and fragile, just like her. One theory this season is that she’s paying tribute to her dead husband, Khal Drogo, by wearing it really long, a sign that a Dothraki chief has never lost a battle. Again I say, “Eh.” She’s always worn it really long. Does a dragon turning into a frozen zombie count as losing a battle? Something tells me she will not be cutting off her hair.
I have no theory here, just an observation. Since his own reanimation, Jon Snow has been favoring a man bun, a really stupid idea since he’s been hanging out in Winterfell and lately north of the Wall. He never wears a hat! I asked costume designer Michele Clapton about this in an interview a few years ago, and she told me it annoys her too, but the show runners want you to be able to see the principals’ faces. At least wear your hair down to cover your ears, Jon. Make one good decision for a change.
Vulture brought up a very good point a few weeks ago: Why isn’t Cersei’s hair growing? Is it because it just... stopped? Is she leaving it short on purpose? As a person who has had many pixie cuts over the years, I’m guessing she wants it to be short. Once you feel that ear freedom, it’s hard to let it grow. (Plus, the in-between stage is a nightmare.) She may also be doing it in defiance to what happened to her, reclaiming the shaved head as her own.
A totally far-fetched theory? She’s trying to look like her dead son, Joffrey. No, really, look at them!
For all the behind-the-scenes secrets of Thrones hair, watch: