The U.S. Army is being criticized for new regulations released on Monday. Army Regulation 670-1 consists of new rules on uniforms, grooming, hairstyles, and tattoos.
Thousands of soldiers are questioning the new hairstyle rules, which are only applicable to women. Some soldiers are also saying that the new rules are racially biased, target black women’s hair, and has a “lack of regard for ethnic hair.”
The regulations prohibit hairstyles with braids or cornrows that are wider than quarter of an inch. Dreadlocks and twists have also been banned. Women in the Army who are sporting these hairstyles must now find a way to cover them up with extensions or wigs, or get rid of them completely.
Sgt. Jasmine Jacobs from the Georgia National Guard has launched a White House petition that requests the President to reconsider the new regulations and “allow professional ethnic hairstyles” in the Army. The petition has already reached 100,000 signatures, which is enough to garner a reply from the White House.
Jacobs also mentioned in an Army Times interview that twists are one of the most popular hairstyles for black female soldiers, since it is low maintenance and easy to manage in the field. Jacob also wears her hair in twists and said that it has never been an obstruction to her headgear.
Pentagon’s Army representative Lt. Col. S. Justin Platt said that the new regulations are necessary in order to preserve uniformity among the soldiers. In addition, he also said that plenty of hairstyles can be worn, as long as they are conservative and neat.
Paul Prince, an Army spokesperson, said that dreadlocks and twists have been prohibited since 2005. The new regulations just provide more details on what exactly is not allowed.
Jacobs said that before the regulations, women had more options, but they were still able to keep a professional appearance.
An Army veteran, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that most black soldiers choose to wear their hair naturally and they do not have the means to straighten their hair, especially when they are deployed. “When you’re in Iraq, these hairstyles serve the purpose to protect you,” she said.
AR 670-1: The Rules
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