The U.S. Army has issued new regulations on hairstyles. Unfortunately for female black soldiers, these rules directly pertain to their hair. What civilians see as common among black women; small braids, cornrows, and mini dreads are now deemed “non-regulation.” Army Regulation 670-1 now states braids and twists cannot be more than a quarter inch in diameter, no dreadlocks of any kind and cornrows must be even and no bigger than a quarter inch.
Many black female soldiers were upset, because the new regulation does not take into account black hair. Sgt. Jasmine Jacobs, of the Georgia National Guard is quoted as saying “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’ hair is naturally curly and thick so she cannot pull it into as bun. For many soldiers, braiding their hair makes it easier to maintain while deployed in the battlefield. Jacobs has gone so far as to start a White House petition against the new regulation. Her petition states in part, “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 … The changes are “racially biased, and the lack of regard for ethnic hair is apparent.”
For now, Jacobs and other black female soldiers with similar hair must wear wigs or get their hair chemically relaxed in order to comply with regulations.