Pentagon Will Review Grooming Guidelines Said to Be Racially Biased

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel notified Congress that the department would take a second look at the controversial grooming policies.

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An excerpt from AR 670-1

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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told Congress that the Pentagon would review its grooming standards, particularly those surrounding hairstyles, after some critics called the new policies racially and culturally insensitive, CNN reports.

Hagel said that he and his deputy would “work with the service secretaries and the military chiefs to review their respective policies, to address the issues raised by members of Congress about grooming standards, particularly for African-American females,” according to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.

“During the next three months, each service will review their hairstyle policies as they pertain to African-American women to ensure standards are fair and respectful of our diverse force, while also meeting our military service’s requirements,” Kirby added, according to CNN. After the review, Hagel will make any necessary tweaks.

Back in March the U.S. Army came under fire for Regulation 670-1, a proposed set of guidelines that included tightened grooming standards, especially for women in the service. The rules banned twists, dreadlocks, Afros and braids beyond a certain thickness, as well as certain adornments, such as decorated headbands.

The controversy sparked a White House petition, as well as a letter from all the women of the Congressional Black Caucus, urging a revision of the standards.

“Though we understand the intent of the updated regulation is to ensure uniformity in our military, it is seen as discriminatory rules targeting soldiers who are women of color with little regard to what is needed to maintain their natural hair,” the CBC letter reads (pdf). “African American women have often been required to meet unreasonable norms as it is relates to acceptable standards of grooming in the workplace. Understand that these standards should shift based on each community’s unique and practical needs.”

Read more at CNN.

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