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A Cut Above Hermione

Courtney Cox | Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Harry Potter mania is upon us. The comparison between South Dining Hall and Hogwarts will become much more apparent when swarms of students in gold and scarlet file in to drink Butter Beer and eat whatever exactly it is that they eat in Harry Potter. Chocolate frogs perhaps?

The stars of the film have been on a media rampage for the past week, beginning with the film’s London premiere and continuing on to the New York premiere this week. Of course the attention is amplified by the fact that this is the beginning of the end of an era for Harry Potter lovers around the world, but no topic has permeated the consciousness of the public as much as Emma Watson’s haircut.

Emma Watson has portrayed Hermione Granger, the best friend of Harry Potter and Ron Weasley for the past 11 years. Of all Hermione’s characteristics (intelligence, a strict adherence to the rules, a borderline neurotic obsession with Hogwarts: A History), none of her physical attributes stood out more than her bushy hair.

It was a symbol that she was too serious and too wise to truly care about her looks. She wasn’t some bimbo like Lavender Brown; she was a smart, independent young woman. She gave hope to millions of girls that they would one day be able to grow out of that awkward stage and join the ranks of gorgeously smart women as Ms. Watson has.

At the end of an era that has been so formative to millions of young adults, Emma has chosen to throw all caution to the wind and chop off her hair into a bold pixie cut. She had grown so familiar to Potter fans everywhere, and her long hair was something they could be sure of being perfectly in place. Despite the sloppy days her costars Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint may be having (and let’s be honest, they seem to have too many to count), Emma Watson would always have her golden brown locks to compliment whatever stylish ensemble she sports.

Now that Harry Potter is over, she seems to be an entirely different person from the lovable know-it-all. Emma Watson is no longer synonymous with Hermione Granger. And I commend her for that. Many may not agree with me, but the choice to cut her hair was as smart as I’m sure it was liberating. While Hermione will always have that bushy brown hair, Watson will not.

A haircut as drastic as hers can define a career. We have seen it with Natalie Portman in V for Vendetta, and we have seen it with Demi Moore in G.I. Jane. It is a powerful moment, but that is only if the moment is chosen wisely. In this state of transition, Watson has most certainly chosen wisely. She can be seen on the red carpet of the premiere looking demure as usual but totally different from the little girl on the screen. She is edgier and much cooler.

As Emma Watson transitions to someone older and more bold than the character she portrays, perhaps it’s time for Harry Potter fans (myself included) to do the same.

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Courtney Cox at ccox3@nd.edu