Want to go natural? Then don’t plan on joining the U.S. Army. Outrage has followed a new Army mandate that prohibits hairstyles commonly identified with African-American hairstyles, including Afros, locs and twists.

Identified as “Army Regulation 670-1,” the rule calls for a ban of hairstyles done in “twists, dreadlocks, afros and braids more than a quarter-inch thick,” according to the news site Al-Jazeera America.

The new regulation has not been made official or published (most likely because they are talking to legal analysts) but under anonymity, but a female vet using the name “Tonya” spoke with the news site. “It’s very targeted because we all know who they’re talking about even though they never explicitly say the word ‘black’ or ‘African-American.’ We all know who typically wears these types of hairstyles and then they went as far as to include pictures of black women in the PowerPoint,” she states.

The reaction to this news has generated a petition directed to the White House, which has garnered more than 6,000 signatures. Army Sgt. Jasmine Jacobs of the Georgia National Guard told The Army Times that she’s worn her hair natural for years while serving her country. “I’ve been in the military six years, I’ve had my hair natural four years, and it’s never been out of regulation. It’s never interfered with my head gear,” Jacobs said.

The petition reads: “More than 30% of females serving in the military are of a race other than white. As of 2011, 36% of females in the U.S. stated that they are natural, or refrain from chemically processing their hair. Females with natural hair take strides to style their natural hair in a professional manner when necessary; however, changes to AR 670-1 offer little to no options for females with natural hair.

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

This policy needs to be reviewed prior to publishing to allow for neat and maintained natural hairstyles.”

The new rules were detailed in a PowerPoint presentation that was leaked on March 20. Among the grooming regulations are updated restrictions on how female soldiers can wear their hair.


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32 thoughts on “Army’s New Hair Regulations Spark Outrage

  1. I just wonder why the military thinks twists and locs are “unprofessional”.. clearly there’s some stereotyping done here when the proposed rule was being drafted. I’ve always seen women wear natural hair in the past while in military uniforms and never did I think that it was unprofessional! Seems to me the military needs to be updated on the latest when it comes to the natural hair movement…

  2. I’ve been in the military 10 years and I’ve had braids AND weaves. they have NEVER interfered with my Kevlar OR my had gear. I have never been reprimanded for any hairstyle because I know my regulations and I am a senior NCO as well. I’ve also been in the desert with braids as well….it’s called hygiene. Has nothing do to with the sand not mixing with braids which is an ignorant statement. You should be allow to wear styles as long as they are neat, tasteful, and do not interfere with your equipment to include headgear. A natural color, neat, no-wild, above the color is within the regulations. SFC Eric…and whoever else agrees that this is not targeted know that is a BS statement.

    • When I was in the Air Force the only things allowed were perms and shortened natural hairstyles as long as it didn’t make the wearer look dude’s. Not sure about weaves. Braids and extensions were off limits This might have changed now or maybe not. And all four branches may not have the save regs on this. I was mostly permed but went to a short natural my final year in before separation. People don’t understand how hard it is for a black woman to maintain her hair—especially in an overseas place where hair care is limited (which forced me to go nappy; sorry but I use that term too). I don’t regret going natural but my superiors had no issue with it then, nor did they when I returned to the states thankfully. I say if it doesn’t look outlandish and doesn’t interfere with the wearing of headgear it shouldn’t be an issue. Some wild color I could see the problem—but that’s just me. The pictures I’ve seen so far…none of them look that bad to me. But I would also say that maybe black women should just not join the Army (or any branch) ever. Let there not be any black females in the Service until they bend the rules just a LITTLE bit because let’s face it, OUR hair is not like other races. We’re being expected to alter our hair from its natural state into something completely unnatural for us while no other race of women is not required to.

      Now before anyone starts in on me I’m not against weaves or perms. Do your hair like you want. I’m just saying that I do believe SOME (not alot of) leeway should be made for black women due to the fact that our hair is drastically different and, depending on where you get stationed, can be an issue as far as maintaining it. Serious enough to where you have to make a huge change as I did. Again, an overseas tour during the Gulf War led me to cut my perm out (and never went back). Maybe I looked ‘girlie’ enough or just got lucky because no one declared it out of reg. I ended up with a small afro with hair pins. But then again, the Armed Forces is a VOLUNTARY field; these women are not required to join. After all the military’s main function is to fight wars, not cater to racial hair(?). Organizations should not nail you over what your normal hair looks like…but such is life. I remember in basic training one sister had her cousin, a certified beautician spend 7 hours putting micro braids in her hair for the purpose of making her hair easy to maintain while in basic. Our TIs told her day one that they had to go..we spent half the day taking her braids out. She was really upset and ended up trying to perm her own hair in secret and burned a lot of her scalp. She had never permed her own hair before. She ended up with bald patches, had to get her head shaved, and had to wear a wig during the duration of basic training. She recycled due to recovering from scalp burns which we found out were permanent. I don’t know if this girl stayed in the Air Force or not. She graduated with another flight but a lot of her hair never grew back. It was very sad to watch.

      In the end, my advice to any black girl seeking to join any branch is: understand that there are strict regulations are in place as far as uniform dress code goes, and this includes hair/hair styles. If hair maintenance is going to be an issue with you then it’s probably best you DON’T join the military.

  3. SFC(R) Eric E. Terrell on said:

    If you haven’t been in the Military, maybe you shouldn’t speak on life in the Army.I heard a disc jockey on the Radio, this morning, say that the Army is a profession just like any other profession. My response to that statement is, “THE HELL IT IS!!!”. The Army is NOT a profession! The Army is a way of life. I don’t know too many professions that require you to qualify on a M16 Rifle, take Physical Fitness Tests, Deploy at a moments notice, and fight for freedom. In saying that, you must be disciplined enough to understand that we gave up a few freedoms…so others can live in complete FREEDOM. Furthermore, playing the “RACE CARD”, in this situation is a cop out. I am a African American Male who has given well over twenty years to the Army. What I know is that a few African American Females wore their hair in outrages fashion. Some had several hat sizes according to the hairstyle they were wearing. Sounds funny, huh? Well, it’s NOT funny when they have to try to put a Kevlar (helmet) on top of miles of extensions and weave. Or, realizing that they can NOT properly seal their Gas Mask, because of their hair. What’s worse… is seeing these poor women develop scalp infections because they chose to wear braids in the desert. Lets just say that Sand & Braids do NOT mix. Is the new regulation strict? Yes. But don’t be mad at anybody except those who took advantage of the old AR 670-1. Finally, If you don’t like the new standard, then no one says you have to stay and take it…find a new “Profession”.

    • IanRousseault on said:

      SFC(R) Eric E. Terrell, First of all I would like to thank you for your Service and Dedication, it’s Greatly appreciated. I also agree with what you said 100%. Thank you for making sense of this situation. You are truly a wonderful and admirable American!!!!!

  4. Mac Ben on said:

    These are not new rules they are just being enforced after more than a decade of war when big Army and local senior leaders were not as concerned with such details.

  5. Erica on said:

    This is happening in all of the branches. I wish someone would do some investigating and see that natural women in all branches are dealing with this issue.

  6. @ Vern if you want to start a petition to start sending those disgraceful officers and senior NCOs to jail who rape and sexually harrass the female soldiers I will definitely sign it.
    I receive your point.

    I also support those soldiers/americans to have the right to wear their hair anyway they see fit to accommodate and perform their role as soldiers. I do not support “someone” deciding they don’t like to see certain styles so therefor they have the ‘right’ to decide that it is suddenly not professional or so called, neat. Its subject to interpretation. The question is whose interpretation.

  7. Good damned grief! How the hell are you going to be outraged at US Army regs that have been in effect since Adam and Eve? You don’t hear white people belly achin’ about having to cut off their mullets and Duck Dynasty beards when they enlist. If don’t read any further than the headline, you’d think the army was banning all natural hair. The texture is not the issue. It’s the style, length and the width of those ugly ass dookie braids that aren’t regulation. There is a certain look of neatness and uniformity that is required in all branches of the armed forces. I doubt an oriental would be able to sport a sumo wrestler top knot. That does not mean that he should able to expect to change the rules of a nations armed forces to appease his wishes. If you don’t like the rules of an organization, then don’t join. But don’t try to force the organization to change to soothe your outrage. SHMDH.

  8. IanRousseault on said:

    I don’t think Dreads, Locks, Twists are really identified as American hairstyles. When you see or think about them, it’s more in the thought of people from the islands and third world countries. I agree with the Military, if you are going to serve in the United States Military, then look American, there’s nothing RACIST or wrong with that. But as usual you will find a small segment of the population that always look for some issue to cause disruption and upheaval. Don’t like the policy, Don’t join the American Armed Forces!!!!! This is very simple!

    • AirPower on said:

      What do “American” people look like? What does it mean to behave as an “American” or to look like one? The last time I checked this country was the home of individuals from ALL parts of the world- from all hemispheres combined in one. Dreads/Locks and braids are styles worn by Africans (mostly) so YES it is targeted at blacks which makes it a RACE issue.

      • IanRousseault on said:

        Look Air Power, I don’t wear braids or dreads, so this issue is not my issue and I don’t give a damn about it. I tend to deal with real pertinent issues that concern me and my world!!!!

    • AirPower on said:

      Obviously you do give a damn about it since you took time to write that idiotic comment. Since this isn’t “your issue” DON’T COMMENT. Stick to the issues of that world of yours.

      • IanRousseault on said:

        I’m neither of those. I’m just a Man who just cuts through the BS in Life. And have been extremely Blessed with a Beautiful, Wonderful, Educated, Loving Life!!!!!!

  9. Considering that a General was allowed to retire for Rape Charges and Sen. Gillibrand and other women in the Senate have fought tirelessly to send military personnel to prison for raping women in the armed forces, Republicans fought this forever. Still thousands are raped and the military hasn’t fully addressed this issue because they let the rapist off, one would think that there are more pressing issues than “HAIR” Less address Rapes in the military thousands are suffering, lets’ see Rape vs. Hair Styles, Really? It’s amazing what our country places as priorities.

  10. its a heart issue on said:

    Our nations soldiers are stand-ready at a moment’s notice to defend its interests without warning….every soldier is basically a combatant first meaning wherever they may find themselves their main priority is to survive so that they can carry out their day to day jobs in combat that supports the overall portion of defending the nations interest….having said all of that. there are some items such as a protective mask with a hood the allows you to breath and protects your head from the fallout of chemicals from potential chemical weapons attacks hair styles that prevent the proper sealing of the above mentioned mask could result in the persons with beards and hair styles they prevent the seal to become casualties and even die in battle. its not a black thing its a standards thing.

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