Hermione Granger Showed Me the Importance of Self-Care
My own “Hermione at the Yule Ball” moment happened at my high school’s winter formal in my senior year. It was the first school dance I attended after my braces were removed, and I had recently started wearing contact lenses. None of my friends had seen my new haircut yet, and my classmates rarely had a chance to see me out of uniform. A tough semester had left me with very little time and energy to devote to taking care of myself, so it was an immense relief to spend a night feeling beautiful and feeling seen and appreciated by the classmates I would soon leave behind.
Hermione Granger, raised on Muggle fairy tales, may have envisioned her own iconic appearance at the Yule Ball on the arm of Quidditch star Viktor Krum as her personal “Cinderella moment.” Her closest friends didn’t recognize her at first, while her tormentors couldn’t find a single insult to throw at her. The Hermione Granger everyone thought they knew was suddenly elegant, unburdened, and glowing with excitement at the prospect of spending a night with someone who found her genuinely interesting long before the hair potion and pretty dress robes. It’s hard not to feel the joy of this moment radiating from the page.
To all of Hogwarts, Hermione Granger is her hair, her “rather large” teeth, the books slung over her back, and her eager, uncompromising brilliance, which inspires anything from annoyance to resentment. To her friends, the idea that Hermione Granger could be anything else is laughable, which is why it’s so powerful when she proves them wrong. To Ron, the idea that anyone in the castle other than himself could find Hermione beautiful and interesting is so ludicrous that he goes out of his way to come up with any other reason for Krum to have asked her. The rest of the castle – and indeed, all of Great Britain, thanks to Rita Skeeter – spends weeks after the ball speculating wildly about whether Hermione used a Love Potion, whether she was using Krum to get to Harry, or whether she enjoys using her intellect to manipulate powerful men; any explanation is better than admitting to themselves that they were wrong about Hermione Granger.
Hermione chose to reveal a side of herself no one ever saw, a side people assumed she didn’t have, and in doing so took ownership of her identity. Hermione seemed to be more surprised than anyone else that Viktor Krum asked her to the dance, and even more surprised that he felt he had to muster up the courage to do so. Perhaps she, too, believed in what everyone else thought of her, that she was many different things, but “beautiful” was not one of them. That she took the time to dismantle that notion is what makes her Yule Ball moment so meaningful to me. It can be so easy to internalize the expectations and criticisms of others, to believe you can never change. Hermione shows us that putting effort into creating our best selves – or even creating a different version of ourselves, just for one special night – can bring confidence, energy, and joy.
Most importantly, Hermione created the joy of that night for herself and for herself only. She didn’t wear pretty dress robes and change her hair to impress Viktor or to make Ron jealous. She didn’t even transform to stupefy Malfoy and Pansy, though that must have been an immensely satisfying consequence. It was an act of self-care and self-empowerment. In surprising everyone else, Hermione also surprised herself by becoming more elegant, more graceful, and more beautiful than she thought she could be. As she tells Harry the next day, the transformation took effort and it wasn’t something she felt the need to do every day, but just the fact that she had done it and could do it again was enough.
From Hermione, I learned how valuable it can be to actively make time for myself and to make myself feel special. What was your “Hermione at the Yule Ball” moment? How do you practice self-care? Let us know in the comments!