Color me shocked, Game of Thrones fans are hating on Sansa. This time, it's because Sansa has done her hair like her former captor and unwilling mentor, Cersei Lannister. Does this indicate that Sansa is headed down an evil path? Sansa's hair on Game of Thrones has always held clues about her state of mind, but not her moral standing.
I noticed this about Sansa midway through the series, and it's one of my favorite character details on Game of Thrones in general. For one thing, I find it relatable. There might not be Teen Vogue or Youtube tutorials in Westeros, but Sansa plays around with her look and emulates various styles just like us.
It's also emblematic of one of Sansa's most powerful traits and assets — she's observant. The eldest Stark daughter has been absorbing information about the Westeros elite under dire circumstances for years.
“Sansa’s hair is constantly reflecting the people she’s learning from, or mimicking, or inspired by at the time,” said Sophie Turner in an interview with Refinery 29. “When she’s Cersei’s prisoner, and she’s kind of absorbing all her manipulative techniques, it’s reflected in her hairstyle, and when she’s finding the spirit of Margaery in herself, she wears her hair like Margaery.”
Here's a brief breakdown of Sansa Stark's hair journey since Season 1.
Once upon a time, Sansa and Arya had similar hair. Isn't that something? They've both outgrown this loose, rural Northern look.
Cersei's Regal Updo
This is the hairstyle that looks the least comfortable, and that's fitting. She's young, and still holding on to false hope at this point. She wants to believe in Cersei and Joffrey, and doesn't realize that she has been manipulated and is already their prisoner. From this point on, Sansa only does her hair like this at formal events, when she needs to play a part.
Margaery's Disarming Twists
In Season 2, Sansa's hair is mostly kept down. She's miserable, trapped, but still taking things in — so her hair is more of a blank slate. However, once Margaery Tyrell arrives and offers friendship, mentorship, and an escape to Highgarden, Sansa's mood improves and her she starts experimenting with her hair again.
Catelyn's Pulled Back Braid
In the later seasons, Sansa started re-incorporating Northern styles back into her look. I think that's partially as a comfort, while she was being tortured by Ramsay. She's home, and reclaiming her Stark identity. It was also a way of manipulating Littlefinger — because that pulled back, single braid is eerily reminiscent of her mother.
Sansa's hair may look like Cersei mid-swill now, but her furry cloak is also an homage to her brother Robb, her father Ned, and Jon Snow himself. Sure, you could take the braids as a bad sign, but don't forget, it's her sister who just slaughtered an entire family. Sansa also learned a "great deal" from her parents, Margaery, Tyrion, Shae, and even Ramsay. I think we might be underestimating Sansa's capacity for inspiration on Game of Thrones. Her hair is just one aspect of the player she has become.