U.S. Military Relaxes Rules on Hairstyles After Outrage from Black Recruits

The United States military is responding to criticism that black recruits had been treated unfairly by hairstyle restrictions. Credit US Army, via Associated Press
The United States military is responding to criticism that black recruits had been treated unfairly by hairstyle restrictions. Credit US Army, via Associated Press

The United States military is loosening its hairstyle requirements to allow more styles that are popular with black women, responding to criticism from some service members and lawmakers that black recruits had been treated unfairly by new restrictions.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, in a letter this week to the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, wrote that all the military branches except the Marine Corps would expand their definitions of acceptable hairstyles to include cornrows, braids and other hairstyles.

Mr. Hagel also said that military regulations in all branches would eliminate “offensive language, including the terms ‘matted and unkempt,’ from both the Army and Air Force grooming regulations.”

In April, Mr. Hagel ordered the secretaries of each military branch to conduct a policy review after the 16 women of the Congressional Black Caucus complained about new Army regulations banning large cornrows, twists and dreadlocks.

“As a result of these reviews, the Army, Navy and Air Force determined changes were necessary to their service grooming requirements to include additional authorized hairstyles,” Mr. Hagel wrote.

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SOURCE: The New York Times
David S. Joachim

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