Warning: This story contains spoilers for season 8 of Game of Thrones.
If a picture really is worth a thousand words, then the hairstyles on Game of Thrones are worth one thousand and one (which, coincidentally, is also about how many questions we have left over from the series finale). The connection between each character's narrative and the way they wear their hair held strong to the very end — and it's only fitting that Sansa Stark, whose hair looks have transformed and aligned with her character development season after season, should leave us with one of her most symbolic hairstyles yet.
The long, straight hair, pushed back over her shoulders, that Sansa wears during her coronation as Queen in the North eschews intricate braids and elaborate updos like the ones she's worn in the past. Those same styles were also seen on other powerful women throughout the series, like Cersei, Daenerys, Margaery, and Catelyn, who Sansa emulated as she was coming into her own and learning the ropes in a male-dominated world. Now the ruler of an independent kingdom, Sansa has come so far from being a helpless teenager who fawned over royalty. She's the fearless leader of the North.
She never wears her hair down. Sansa has always used her hair to look like the people she's trying to emulate, as well as trying to communicate non-verbally. By wearing her hair down, I feel like she's showing that she's her own person and she can speak for herself now pic.twitter.com/Mq7zeRFg1h— I love Sansa Stark | GoT spoilers (@cheap__queen) May 20, 2019
Also making the rounds on the internet is the theory that the show's hairstylists may have been inspired by the real-life looks of Queen Elizabeth I, who wore her hair down at her coronation to project the image of youth and purity — supposedly as a direct challenge to those who believed the sexual abuse and harassment she experienced as a teenager "ruined" her. Sansa, like the real-world queen, is a victim of sexual abuse who overcame patriarchal conventions and took on a position of power and influence.
Sansa’s hair completely down (vs complicated looks of her youth & severe pinbacks of Winterfell stewardship) took my breath away.— Anthony Oliveira (@meakoopa) May 20, 2019
Elizabeth wore hers down at her coronation to signal sexual purity, in open hostility to those who said her sexual abuse ruined her. #GameOfThrones
Whatever the meaning, fans of the show have taken to social media to show their appreciation for this detail — even if the rest of the final episode left them disappointed.
my sister & i were talking about the #GameOfThrones finale & she made a great point - Sansa’s hair has always mimicked people she’s learning from or inspired by. but now, Queen of the North in her own right, she wears it down. simple, unadorned & free to write her own story 😭😭 pic.twitter.com/4mogfP6NpO— indi/catelyn stark warrior (@chromoluminous) May 20, 2019
This meaningful detail was the perfect swan song after nearly a decade of hairstyles that told a story of their own. From Sansa's fussy braids in the early seasons to her dramatic color change and finally to her loose, natural hair, the stylists working behind the scenes deserve all the praise they get... and none of the backlash, unlike the show's writers, who are getting torn apart all over social media.