Following some pretty harsh backlash, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced the U.S. military has reconsidered the authorization of natural hairstyles for soldiers.
African American soldiers and members of the Congressional Black Caucus felt the hair policies were racially insensitive. The inclusion of terms like “matted and unkempt,” in the military’s directions on which styles were unacceptable did not help matters either.
According to Time, Hagel said the military has spent the past three months reviewing the definition of acceptable natural hair styles in a letter to Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, which led a charge against the military’s decision to ban natural hairstyles like dreadlocks and twists.
“Each service reviewed its hairstyle policies to ensure standards are fair and respectful while also meeting our military requirements,” Hagel wrote. “As a result of these reviews, the Army, Navy, and Air Force determined changes were necessary to their service grooming regulations to include additional authorized [natural] hairstyles.”
Though uniformity is essential to the armed services, it seems there are more important things to worry about besides being overly critical of how someone styles their hair.
Three branches of service including the Army, Air Force and Navy will now allow service members to wear their hair in two-strand twists. The Army also increased the size of acceptable braids, and both the Army and Air Force will remove the terms “matted and unkempt” from their grooming guidelines; how gracious of them.
“Most black women, their hair doesn’t grow straight down, it grows out,” wrote Sgt. Jasmine Jacobs in a White House petition calling for the military to reverse its decision, first reported by Military Times.
“I’m disappointed to see the Army, rather than inform themselves on how black people wear their hair, they’ve whitewashed it all.”