On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives' new class streamed into the U.S. Capitol for the very first time, bringing with them a bevy of beauty looks that have rarely been seen inside the prestigious government building. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York wore her signature red lipstick. Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts wore her hair in twists. And Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Somalia and is one of the first Muslim-American women in Congress, wore a hijab and jet-black nails.
The bold manicure has been a signature of Omar's. If you look back at campaign events, news conferences, and rallies from the past year, she is almost always sporting long, almond- or square-shaped, black nails.
And while this may seem like no news at all, in D.C. politics a bold nail color is actually something to talk about.
Before Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings, she was reportedly briefed by President Obama's team to only wear neutral nail polish. But on the day of the White House reception celebrating her appointment, Sotomayor showed up with nails that were fire-engine red, a color commonly associated with pride and celebration for many Latinas.
That spirit inspired future congresswomen like Ocasio-Cortez, who shared the story on Twitter and mentioned that Sotomayor's devotion to bold color is what inspired her own choice to wear gold hoops to her swearing-in ceremony. "Next time someone tells Bronx girls to take off their hoops, they can just say they’re dressing like a Congresswoman," she wrote.
Lip+hoops were inspired by Sonia Sotomayor, who was advised to wear neutral-colored nail polish to her confirmation hearings to avoid scrutiny. She kept her red.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 4, 2019
Next time someone tells Bronx girls to take off their hoops, they can just say they’re dressing like a Congresswoman. https://t.co/eYN5xYFcTE
And while most other new congresswomen stuck to the status quo on Thursday, wearing light pink polish or no polish at all, it's refreshing to see women like Omar expressing themselves with beauty in the same way their constituents do. Like, who doesn't love a black manicure?
What Omar's dark nail polish is also quietly doing here (whether she intends it to or not) is showing that congresswomen don't have to style themselves to look like one homogenous group in order to be taken seriously. In 2019, everything — from the style of their hair to the color of their lips to the shade of their nails — is up for them to decide. And thank goodness for that.
Refinery29 has reached out to Omar's office for further details and will update this story when we hear back.