The most powerful accessory at the Women's March wasn't those pink hats — but those signs

On Saturday, millions of people gathered not only in major citiesaround the world — like Washington, D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, Paris and London — but smaller ones too — like St. Petersburg, FL, Moscow, Idaho and Anchorage, Alaska — to take a stand and march in support of women. 

The displays were stunning, with an estimated three million women and supporters of women gathered for the sake of making a statement. Take a look at the crowds and you'll notice a few accessories collectively worn.

Of course, there were the pink knit hats, knit to look like pussy cats (get it?), which so many people wore that at times the crowds looked like a sea of pink. 

Protesters walk up Pennsylvania Avenue during the Women's March on Washington.
Source: Mario Tama/Getty Images
Protesters march during the Women's March on Washington.
Source: Mario Tama/Getty Images

But then there were also the signs. At times, the marches looked not like a parade of people, but a parade of cardboard and posterboard. 

Protesters walk during the Women's March on Washington, with the U.S. Capitol in the background.
Source: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Although plenty of fuss has been made about those pink hats, and just how many people were indeed wearing them, what was perhaps the more powerful — and telling — accessory at these women's marches was actually the signs. 

That's because while the pink knit hat showed unity among the millions, the signs showed just what's at stake here, and why exactly people felt so compelled to gather and march in the hundreds of marches across the world. 

While the pink hats were about uniformity, the signs were really about self-expression. Each sign was unique. They were a platform for people to express exactly what felt most pressing to them. 

At the marches, for some, it was about condemning sexual assault: 

For others, it was about taking a stand against any rollback on women's health: 

For some people, it was about taking a jab at the current establishment: 

For other people, it was about celebrating the women who have stood against the rollback of women's rights for decades now: 

A sign at the Women's March on Washington
Source: Rachel Lubitz

To some, it was even as simple as taking a stand for kindness and inclusivity: 

A participant at the Women's March on January 21 in Los Angeles.
Source: Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty Images

And even celebrities and memes made their way in: 

What you'll notice about these signs, too, is that while some were professionally printed, others were handmade, created with sharpies or paint, or printed at home, allowing the signmaker full creative control. 

And it wasn't just the statements that these signs made that were impactful or the time that went into making some of them, but who was holding them. There were the older people, who attended their march sickened that they even felt the need to: 

And then there were the very, very young people, brought by their parents but still feeling passionate enough to hold a sign of their own. 

Considering what the signs said, how they were individually made and who was holding them, the signs ended up being the most essential and powerful accessory at the Women's Marches. They showed not just unity, but passion and a determination to make sure their voices are not only heard but seen. 

And this feels like it is just the beginning.