Army announces new rules for hairstyles and nail polish


WASHINGTON (AP) – Female soldiers can drop their hair out and paint their nails a bit according to new rules approved by the military. But male soldiers will still have to shave.

Army chiefs said on Tuesday they are easing restrictions on various grooming and hairstyling rules, as department heads attempt to respond to long-standing complaints, especially from women. The changes, which also increase the allowances for earrings and hair strands and dyes, are especially suited to women of various ethnicities and will allow more flexibility for braids, twists, cornrows and other styles that are more natural to their hair. .

The new regulations come into effect at the end of February and come after months of study, following a directive from former Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who ordered a further review of military hairstyling and grooming policies in last july. The review was part of a larger order to expand diversity within the military and reduce prejudice, following widespread protests against racial inequalities last summer.

“It’s not about men and women,” said Sgt. Major Michael Grinston, the military’s top enlisted leader, during a Facebook Live presentation on Tuesday on the latest changes. “This is an Army standard and how we move forward with the Army and to be a more diverse and inclusive team. “

The military’s announcement has been planned for a long time, but it came just days after the Pentagon’s black first secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin, took office. Austin swore to try to eradicate racism and extremism from the ranks and foster greater inclusion. Esper and many department heads have also taken steps to diversify the military, especially in the senior ranks.

As an example, Esper ordered last summer that the photos of the military no longer be provided on promotional boards. Officials said studies have shown that when photos are not included, “outcomes for minorities and women improve.”

Tuesday, Army Sgt. Major Brian Sanders told reporters the panel recommending the new grooming changes took various factors into account, including cultural, health and safety concerns. He said the tight updos previously required by the military may trigger hair loss and other scalp issues in some women. And the bigger updos needed to accommodate thick or longer hair can make a combat helmet ill-fitting and potentially interfere with good vision.

At the same time, he said changes, such as allowing women in combat uniforms to wear earrings such as small gold, silver and diamond studs, made them “feel like a woman.” inside and outside the uniform “.

He added: “At the end of the day, our women are mothers, they are wives, they are sisters, they really want to be able to keep their identities and that’s what we want to achieve.”

In many cases – such as earrings – the changes simply allow female soldiers to wear jewelry or hairstyles that are already permitted in more formal ceremonial uniforms, but were not permitted in their daily combat uniforms. .

Army chiefs said women will now be able to wear their hair in a long ponytail or braid and tuck it under their shirts. Sanders said allowing this gives female soldiers, especially pilots or troops on a range, a greater ability to turn their heads quickly, without the stresses created by buns.

The new regulations also allow exactly the opposite. Women soldiers who go through Ranger training or special operations have their heads shaved, as do male soldiers. But when they leave training, their hair is too short, according to previous Army minimum length requirements. From now on, there will be no more minimum length rules.

For men, however, the perpetual demand to allow beards is still prohibited.

Grinston’s response to the online audience’s question was short and to the point: “No. He noted that the military is already making exceptions for medical and religious reasons.

In addition, male soldiers still cannot wear earrings.

However, the new lipstick and nail polish rules allow men to wear clear polish and allow colors for women, but ban “extreme” shades, such as purple, blue, black, and more. red “fireman”. Men will also be able to dye their hair, but colors for both sexes are limited to “natural” shades. Prohibited colors include blue, purple, pink, green, orange, or neon.

Another sign of the times, the new rules state that soldiers will now automatically receive black and coyote-colored face masks. They are also allowed to wear camouflage colored masks, but must purchase them themselves.

The military is also taking steps to change the wording of regulations to remove racist or callous descriptions. References to the “Fu Manchu” mustache and the “Mohawk” hairstyle have been removed and replaced with more detailed descriptions of styles that are still prohibited.


David R. Brewer