Army to allow more Hairstyles for Women in Active Duty

Earlier this month, the U.S. Army announced that all Army women personnel would be eligible for expanded hairstyles including ponytails, braids, twists, and cornrows that go as far down as the bottom of the shoulder blades. Not only that, the Army is allowing female personnel to apply lipstick, nail polish, and earrings as well.

Of course, there are exceptions on the length of the ponytails or braids for women doing tactical or physical training. For nail polish, extreme colors are not allowed for women, and only clear coats are allowed for men.

The Army has required women to follow a “bun” hairstyle for anyone who chose to keep long hair but had received complaints of hair loss, headaches, and hair scalp problems. Furthermore, when the women had to wear helmets for shooting practices or engagements, the buns made wearing helmets difficult, and it would hinder their sight for the purposes of shooting.

The new guidelines expand the options for African-American women’s hair. African-American women within the Army were required to engage in certain forms of hair tightening to abide by the Army’s restriction on hairstyles, which led the members of the Congressional Black Caucus to write a letter to the Secretary of Defense. In it, the Caucus stated, “African American women have often been required to meet unreasonable norms as it relates to acceptable standards of grooming in the workplace.” The Army first allowed some women to have some types of locks in 2017.

The restrictive hairstyle regulation had caused such damage to the scalp, that some female officers had chosen to shave her head completely. That used to be against the regulations, but it no longer is. The regulation also will be removing any offensive and out-of-date language.

The Army’s stance is that “professionalism” is important for soldiers’ appearance; the women (including African-American women) who serve say that the new regulations do not take away from professionalism; if anything, this freedom allows the women to properly wear headgear, perform their tasks effectively and look professional in uniform.

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