'Pussyhats' Galore: Inside the Pink Toppers Thousands Will Wear to the Women's March on Washington
An estimated 200,000 women from all across America are preparing to descend on the nation’s capital for the Women’s March on Washington Saturday — and many will be protesting Donald Trump the day after he is sworn into office simply by the hat on their head.
Women attending the march and those who support them intensely knitted pink cat-eared “pussy” hats for participants to wear at the march.
The knit pink hats, topped with corners that resemble cat ears, are part of the Pussyhat Project, an initiative formed by two friends, Jayna Zweiman and Krista Suh, who bonded in part through their shared fondness for knitting and crocheting. Their love of knitting fused with their political passions when they launched the project late last year, following the presidential election and the announcement of the Women’s March on Washington.
“When I heard about the Women’s March, I knew immediately that I wanted to go,” Suh told PEOPLE.
But she didn’t just want to attend, she wanted to do more: “I was willing to strip naked for this, but I didn’t know what was the right way to make an impact.”
Suh ultimately realized that knitting hats was an obvious choice — especially since she herself traveled from sunny Los Angeles for the event in D.C. Through these matching hats, Suh says, they also have a chance to make a strong visual statement with a sea of pink cat-ear toppers.
The project also takes back control of a word that jolted the 2016 presidential campaign. Last October, then-candidate Trump came under fire after a leaked 2005 tape showed him making lewd comments about women to then Access Hollywood host Billy Bush.
“Grab them by the p—y,” Trump said at the time. “You can do anything.”
After the tape’s release, numerous women came forward to detail Trump’s unwanted sexual advances — including former PEOPLE reporter Natasha Stoynoff.
RELATED VIDEO: Watch: Natasha Stoynoff Breaks Silence, Accuses Donald Trump of Sexual Attack
The creation of the hats also allows those who can’t be at the march themselves to participate and have their presence felt. Not only do the hats represent the person wearing them, Suh said, but also the person who knitted the hat. Zweiman, who knitted the hat that Suh will be wearing in Washington on Saturday.
“I couldn’t physically represent myself at the march, and this project means that myself and others, whether they can’t go for financial, medical or a whole slew of other reasons, but are committed to women’s rights, that they could send in hats as well and be a part of this whole process,” Zweiman said.
“Krista and I really represent both sides of this project,” she added. “The people who want to be there but can’t, and the people who are marching on behalf of all of us.”
The project began to snowball, with Zweiman and Suh’s own knitting teacher (who created the pattern for the hat) spreading the word throughout the knitting and yarn community. As knitters across the country started to create hats, the project expanded beyond just those who already owned knitting needles — to people who simply wanted to express their support for equal rights.
“It’s really opening up a way for so many people who haven’t been politically active before to engage and stand up,” Zweiman said. “It’s giving a different opportunity to have your voice heard, and I think that’s resonating a lot.”
They don’t have a clear projection of exactly how many hats will be visible Saturday because so much is happening at a grassroots level. However, Zweiman and Suh estimate at least 60,000 hats will be on display.
Though they may not have exact numbers, Zweiman and Suh do know that the project has led to a shortage of pink yarn across the country, with more and more yarn being dyed to feed the growing demand for the pussy hats.
The toppers have even reached Hollywood: Stars like Patti Smith, Roseanne Cash, Amy Schumer and Krysten Ritter, as well as Texas State Senator Wendy Davis have put on pink hats of their own to stand up for the cause. Ritter has knit multiple hats, and will be bringing them to Washington to hand out to fellow marchers.
“To see celebrities like Amy Schumer, who are bold, vocal and really stand up for women, participate, is really exciting,” Suh said.
The hope for both Suh and Zweiman is that the pussy hats will live on as a symbol of feminist activism for far longer than just the day of the march — or even the length of the Trump administration.
“My dream is that a grandmother will give her granddaughter her pussy hat, and say ‘I wore this on January 21, 2017,'” Suh said. “I hope it has an impact for generations and leads to the change that we are all hungry for.”