The first time I saw myself represented on-screen was when I saw Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Granted, I was only six, so I didn’t quite understand the idea of representation. But what I did see was a young girl who was always complimented for her wits, not her physicality. This was a girl who wasn’t “Disney princess” beautiful with flowing hair who attracted a male companion. In comparison to her closest counterparts that were boys, Hermione Granger was always ahead. As the Harry Potter series continued, Hermione used magic to take extra classes; she learned about werewolves and Horcruxes before Harry and Ron because she researched outside of what Hogwarts required; perhaps most notably, she still got asked to the school dance even though she was “always studying.”
To celebrate Hermione Granger’s 42nd birthday on September 19th, here are five lessons that Hermione Granger taught young girls to let them know that they should always be themselves.
You’re Not Defined By Where You Came From
One of Hermione’s defining plot points is that she is a witch born to muggle (or non-magic) parents. Throughout the series, some characters (like Voldemort, the Death Eaters, and the Malfoy family) view her as less-than because of her bloodline. But as we see throughout the series, she is “the brightest witch of her age” and succeeds far past her fellow witches and wizards, regardless of if they come from magical families. Canonically, she works in The Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures in the Ministry of Magic after her Hogwarts years before actually becoming The Minister of Magic in 2019. What a way to blow past everyone’s expectations of you.
You’re Not Bossy
At least when I was growing up in school in the early 2000s, there was this manic idea that a girl must hide her intelligence to have friends or get into a relationship. When you’re a child, that may not matter as much. But as a girl grows up, she can begin to question whether this weird “life rule” is true. Ironically, it’s this bossiness in young girls that is viewed as assertiveness and confidence in young boys. Hermione was an excellent example of a girl who never felt the need to dumb herself down to accommodate people intimidated by her. Despite Ron’s snarky comments or Professor Snape’s annoyance at her eagerness, Hermione wasn’t afraid to raise her hand. There is even a collective fandom joke that Harry and Ron would have died without Hermione’s help. After all, it’s not her fault other people didn’t study as much as she did.
You’re Just as Brave as the Boys
Throughout the series, it was exciting to watch Hermione grow up with me in real-time. While I loved Hermione for our shared wit, she proved that she was more than just her brain by the end of the series. She grew to be someone who would do anything to save her friendships; she was brave in the face of trolls and Death Eaters; she put her life on the line to save someone who she didn’t even know could be saved at the end of the day. She even gave up her blood family with no idea of whether or not she would live to see them again. She didn’t have to do any of this, but she did so for the greater good of saving the wizarding world. All of this is just as brave as Harry walking into the Forbidden Forest and Ron sacrificing himself during a game of wizard’s chess.
You’re Not Unworthy Because of Your Intelligence
There’s often controversy that a strong woman shouldn’t want a romantic partner—that wanting romantic love is an example of giving in to the patriarchy. But the truth is that being a strong woman and wanting a loving partner can coexist. While it was never explicitly stated in the Harry Potter series, there are moments where Hermione suggests her interest in a romantic partner, especially in Goblet of Fire. And this is totally okay! She became a beautiful example of the smart girl who got the very sought-after male character that all the girls wanted. Although the situation fell into the category of “not like other girls,” Hermione and Viktor Krum’s short-lived relationship showed that a boy can be interested in a girl because of her intelligence. Similarly, there is also a suggestion that Ron admires Hermione for her intelligence when he tells Harry “we wouldn’t last two days without her” in Deathly Hallows. To be fair, some even argue that Hermione and Viktor were a better pairing than her and Ron. Either way, Hermione’s intelligence was always an asset and most certainly not a fault.
You’re Not Defined By Your Relationship to Boys
Even though she is a part of a series named after her male best friend, Hemione always stood out as a well-developed character in her own right. She had her own storylines and her own backstory. I never saw her solely as “Harry Potter’s friend.” In the same way, she didn’t oscillate around the two male friendships she had. She was always truly a part of their stories and the action within them. When it came to her relationships, Viktor and Ron didn’t take over Hermione’s personality; instead, they were woven into her already established stories of young womanhood. Even in The Cursed Child, readers see Hermione share her time between a career and motherhood. It was wonderful to see Hermione develop meaningful, platonic friendships with boys (even though one turned into a romantic relationship later on). These three characters often worked together to solve problems and fight enemies, and as a young reader, it was exciting for me to see a girl fight alongside the boys when most girls are represented as the ones being saved. For these reasons, Hermione will always hold a special place in my heart.
If you enjoyed this article celebrating Hermione Granger’s birthday, check out my article celebrating five ways why Ginny Weasley was an undeniable badass throughout the Harry Potter series.
FEATURED IMAGES VIA AMINO APPS, TEEN VOGUE, & THE MIRROR UK