The U.S Army announced on Monday several changes that will go into effect next month to make their grooming policies more inclusive.
According to CBS News, the changes will allow women to wear a short ponytail if the length or texture of their hair doesn’t easily lend itself to a bun. Changes also include removing the minimum hair length requirement for women, and allowing women to wear two hairstyles at once. So if you have locs and put them into a ponytail, that’s cool with the Army now. Women will also now be allowed to wear gold, silver, and diamond earrings while in combat uniform.
This is the second significant change to the Army’s grooming policies, following a change in 2017 that removed a ban on locs for female soldiers with textured hair. “We know that inclusive grooming standards help to foster and retain the best talent,” Lieutenant General Gary Brito, the deputy chief of staff of the Army, told CBS News regarding the changes.
The changes follow a request by former Defense Secretary Mark Esper last summer to review the Army’s grooming policies to see if they were insensitive.
From CBS News:
A review panel of 15 females and two men looked at the proposed recommendations with input from expert dermatologists, a psychologist and an equal opportunity adviser.
In a briefing with reporters, Sergeant Major Brian Sanders of the G-1 Uniform Policy Branch said the dermatologists on the panel emphasized that they see Black women on a regular basis who are affected by traction alopecia, that is, hair loss associated with restrictive hair styles like the tight bun that the Army required. They explained that multiple hairstyles, like locks and a bun, as well as a short ponytail policy, could alleviate this problem.
While these updates mainly affect women, there are some gender-neutral changes to the grooming policy. Both men and women will now be allowed to have highlights in their hair, provided the colors aren’t too extreme. Women will also now be allowed to wear nail polish as long as the colors are basic, and men can wear clear nail polish as well.
I kind of understood the whole uniform hairstyles thing, but soldiers really couldn’t get their nails done until now? These changes are great, sure, but it’s a bit weird to be writing things like “women are now allowed to wear earrings in the Army,” in 2021. I guess I was just hoping that the 2020s would be more “Black woman invents jetpacks that only work if you’re Black,” and less “Army finally concedes that Black women are people.”
Anyway, the changes also removed the words “Fu Manchu” and “Mohawk” from the Army’s grooming regulations. Mind you, these styles aren’t allowed now, the Army just realized it was kind of fucked up to keep using those terms and decided to change them.