Update: Military Revises Hairstyle Rules

In March 2014, the military announced that locs and twists could no longer be worn.

When the military announced its new rules for tattoos, hairstyles, and uniforms in March 2014, the natural hair community within the military made it clear that they didn’t appreciate being discriminated against in regards to the hairstyle rules.

The military requested that women stop wearing dreadlocks, twists, braids and cornrows larger than a quarter of an inch. Keep in mind that these new set of hair rules only affected African American women who are in the military. Of course anyone who has hair can sport dreadlocks and twists, but African American women are the ones who primarily wear these hairstyles. Also, the hair is not to be more than 2 inches from your scalp. If you have natural hair, then you know that it is always more than 2 inches from your scalp. It’s simply how our hair grows, and it’s something that cannot be helped.

Those same people who were concerned about the military trying to regulate how African American women wear their hair while on duty will be pleased to know that the military decided to revise its rules. A petition was started by Sgt. Jasmine Jacobs of the Georgia National Guard. She wrote on the White House website:

“These new changes are racially biased and the lack of regard for ethnic hair is apparent.”

A diagram showing that hair must not be more than two inches away from the scalp.

A diagram showing that hair must not be more than two inches away from the scalp.

Most agreed with Sgt. Jacobs and quickly signed the petition. Five months later, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that the hairstyle rules and offensive words such as ‘matted and unkempt’ would be eliminated from the Army and Air force grooming regulations. See the new regulations outlined in Hagel’s letter below:

Army

►Determined the terms “matted and unkempt” are offensive and will eliminate them.


►Authorized temporary two-strand twists.

►Increased size of authorized braids, cornrows and twists; removed spacing requirement.

►Authorized a ponytail during physical training.

Air Force

►Determined the terms “matted and unkempt” are offensive and will eliminate them.

►Changed the name “dreadlocks” to “locs”.

►Authorized two-strand twists, French Twists and Dutch braids.

Navy

►Determined no offensive language in the current policy governing hairstyles.

►Removed some dated terms and descriptions on the Navy’s “Frequently Asked Questions” website, including “Twist hairstyles are not authorized because they fall within the guidelines of being faddish”.

►Authorized a two-strand twist and multiple braids may hang freely if above the collar and must encompass the whole head.

Marine Corps

►Determined no derogatory or discriminatory language in current uniform regulations.

►Convening a special uniform board this summer to consider the expansion of authorized hairstyles.

Are you satisfied with the hairstyle rules changing, or would you like to see more changes to the regulations?

About Portia Cole


Portia is a wife and mother who enjoys making things and people look pretty! As a graduate of Rowan University, Portia has an insatiable craving for natural hair, beauty, and fashion, but she also enjoys traveling and home decor. If you'd like to know more about her, visit her blog at huneybflyy.com. You can also follow her on Instagram (huneybflyy) and twitter (@huneybflyy).

About Portia Cole


Portia is a wife and mother who enjoys making things and people look pretty! As a graduate of Rowan University, Portia has an insatiable craving for natural hair, beauty, and fashion, but she also enjoys traveling and home decor. If you'd like to know more about her, visit her blog at huneybflyy.com. You can also follow her on Instagram (huneybflyy) and twitter (@huneybflyy).

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AjahLenaGenesis Jasmine TroutmanAndrea D BrayboyVictoria Clemons Love Recent comment authors
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Sarah Thornton

As long as it is up, whats the big deal?

Nicole Ghatt

Good it changed…how dare them try to pick nic only clearly towards black hair…

Chala M. Brooks

I am happy they listened because I am an Ex-Soldier, so I know the challenge of being a black female and trying to maintain your hair daily and when you are outside for days, weeks, and months at a time. What we do in everyday life at home is like going back to the Stone Age out there. I made sure I signed the petition to show my support. #Soldier4Life

LaShawn Shawny Jones

I agree with the first comment. ..as long as the hair is up and off the collar what difference does it make? So glad they changed it…im still not sure about the ponytail in pt uniform though….

Ajah
Ajah

Have you gone through a course? Like the crawling in the mud type courses? Go do that in just off the collar hairstyle and don’t be shocked if something gets snatched. Your PT-ing, so for physical training which is just jumping jacks, running and push ups ponytails are fine. Now if your grappling I would suggest buning it up.

Deja Moss

I like this!!

Alice Scott

Racist

Victoria Clemons Love

I’ve been in the military for 8 years now and it’s definetly a struggling trying to figure out what to do with your hair. Honestly though, I think some bad apples spoiled the bunch. Some people take it to the extreme, like getting long braids or something and then have a bun the size of their whole head. You have to be able to wear a hat and your hair can’t distort the shape of it.

Ajah
Ajah

I did cornrows no more then 12 and the ends went down to my shoulder and I would bun them up and I never had an issue. And I didn’t do the half ass ponytail and tuck under the ends I did the BUN! it was attached to my noggin!

Andrea D Brayboy

This is interesting because this website shared a story regarding an officer recently sent to Great Lakes as a Naval Instructor who has locs. The problem with the story is that she has been assigned as a boot camp instructor and she MUST comply with Naval regulations as she is dealing with new recruits. I didn’t understand her gripe, every female recruit who comes there leaves with the same haircut. It doesn’t matter what ethnicity they are.

I don’t think these regulations solely affect Black Women, it affects ALL women. And unfortunately, those women knew that their career of choice regulates their beauty regimen.

Ajah
Ajah

I went to Naval boot camp and every boot camp is different. No we did not get the same hair cut. The only way they touched your hair male or female is if you didn’t get your hair done by regulations before you went. Which for the girls your hair had to be cut to ear length because you are there in boot camp for 2 months some people a little longer until they class you up. As long as her locs do not go past her collar she is in regulations. To ensure that there won’t be an issue he can bun them up or put it in a french twist. I think her locs were past collar weren’t they? I found it silly that she was having a fit too, but I mean you pretty much have to all look the same. I felt worse for the dudes that didn’t cut their hair man they jacked up their heads and didn’t care.

Genesis Jasmine Troutman
Genesis Jasmine Troutman

I am currently in the Air Force and I still think there needs to be changes. I am thrilled they took out derogatory terms, but Locs are still not allowed. I agree with the poster above, as long as your hair can fit neatly in a hat and above your collar, what difference does it make?
Men hair is expected to look uniform (they take no offense if all of there hair off), but women are entirely different when it comes to hair. The hair boundaries needs to be kept professional and efficient, not ethically biased.

Lena

I’ve been in for almost 8yrs (USAF)and Dreadlocks/locs (whatever you want to call them) haven’t been allowed since 2011 if I remember correctly. The photos above shown in the article apply to Army. Also they do NOT just apply to black women. It is prejudice yes! but NOT racist! Being in the military you have to conform to some standards. We all know that when we sign up. There are tons of styles that are within the regs that look neat and professional. The rules have been changed the way they have been because too many people test the limits and or do whatever they want and are out of regs. This goes for black and white and any other race of women.

Ajah
Ajah

See and everyone was all upset and stressed out for nothing. I’m glad that they PC-ed the terminology and such and that everyone has their own criteria because each branch does something different. So with that being said those who are thinking of joining look this over can you deal with this. The military has nothing to do with you wanting to be an individual etc. If you can’t conform then don’t join and please know that the standards could change either for you or against you. The regulations are not about the color about about safety and looking put together in your uniform, unfortunately it just so happens that are hair is the thickest and we love to do things with our hair to express how amazing our hair is. Also another thing to bare in mind is that if you want to put twist in your hair when you are on liberty go ahead as long as it’s temporary. When you are on liberty that is your time, but when you go to work then you need to real it in its like any other “Government job”.