Watch Your New Growth: Hair Restrictions in the Military

Black women were told they couldn't wear braids, cornrows or locs.

It was near the end of the “Blogging While Brown” conference on Saturday when a woman in the Air Force stepped to the microphone to tell the group that she blogged about natural hair and that there were “so many restrictions” on it in the military. If you have “relaxed” hair, she said, a new rule says one can’t have two inches of new growth showing.

Black women were told they couldn’t wear braids, cornrows or locs. “It’s like singling us out,” she said.

“I’m here because I don’t know what to do.”

Given that it was a conference of bloggers and the room was equipped for wireless, the twitterverse lit up.

“Makes me wonder what other indignities black military endure but does not complain about? #bwb,” read one tweet, using the “bwb” “hashtag” for the conference.

Another wrote, “So apparently, the military has banned women from having more than 2 inches of new growth. The whole room just went ‘WTF?!?’ #bwb”

The founder and executive director of the conference committee, Gina McCauley, was reassuring. “You’re not alone. You have a sisterhood of bloggers,” she told the military woman. McCauley also gave out the Web address of a site with information on how to blog anonymously.

The Air Force attendee — who was wearing civilian clothes — was in the right place. The 206 official registrants for the third annual Blogging While Brown conference, held at Washington’s Walter E. Washington Convention Center, were mostly other women, mostly black, less interested in looking like the latest hair-weaved video star than concerned about making a difference.

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