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Amanda Gorman shares how she uses her hair as a ‘storytelling device’

“Everything about me, even my hair, my body, and my spirit is about defying gravity," the inaugural poet said.

In January 2021, Amanda Gorman grabbed everyone's attention when she read her poem “The Hill We Climb" at Joe Biden and Kamala Harris' inauguration ceremony.

For the event, Gorman wore a golden Prada coat, earrings that Oprah gifted her and a stylish braided updo that paid respect to her African American heritage topped with an instantly iconic red headband.

In a recent interview with Allure, Gorman says that she wore her hair in braids because she wanted to make a “powerful statement.”

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Amanda Gorman opens up about how she uses beauty to communicate with her fans and pay respect to her heritage. Win McNamee / Getty Images

“I tried to play with having my hair go upwards, which, I think, is really a hallmark of Black hair," she said. "Everything about me, even my hair, my body, and my spirit is about defying gravity.”

Gorman noted that it was important for her to pay respect to her ancestors.

“Thinking about the Civil Rights Movement, they marched in their Sunday best,” she said. “People were getting arrested and beaten with their hair done, with their clothes pressed, with makeup on. My ancestors were very intentional about using their appearance to counter the same forces that would say their appearance, or rather their skin color, should render them mute in democracy.

"So I really tried to honor that," Gorman continued. "I’m continuing a tradition of showing up to battle in the social justice theater of war as my best self.”

And while Gorman says she doesn't know a lot about makeup, she knew that she wanted to enhance her facial features so that people could relate to the poem she was reading.

“I read about the history of makeup on the stage and how, in part, it was used as a storytelling device, especially [for a] larger audience,” Gorman said.

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Gorman was inspired by the Statue of Liberty for her 2021 Met Gala look. Mike Coppola / Getty Images

“[It] makes your features a lot more apparent to a watcher who might feel distant," she added. "And I knew that this inauguration, for many people, was going to feel less intimate because it was all virtual. So having vibrant makeup was a way for me to feel my best, but also a way that I wanted my face to make people feel a bit closer to me in who I was and what I was saying.”

Since the inauguration, Gorman has been experimenting with different makeup looks and hairstyles. At the 2021 Met Gala, she dazzled fans with her long braided ponytail and tiny rhinestones that were splashed across her face.

“When I first engaged with makeup, it was from the idea of personality — How does this represent me? — and also just, like, artistry and creativity," she said. "It was less about trying to cover who I was or trying to hide it, and more so trying to lean into that and elevate it.”