Late last night, I was on Face­book click­ing through inter­est­ing arti­cles my friends were re-post­ing. One in par­tic­u­lar caught my eye — not because of the title, but because of the pic­ture asso­ci­at­ed used to pro­mote the arti­cle:

I saw a Black wom­an and the phrase “twists are not autho­rized”, and I was hooked. I  jumped in full steam ahead, read­ing up on the new­ly approved Army Reg­u­la­tion 670–1 and pour­ing over each slide of the leaked Army Reg­u­la­tion 670–1 Lead­er Train­ing Pow­er­point. Amid the reg­u­la­tions about tat­toos, uni­forms, and facial hair for men, there were some not-so-sub­tle hints that the Unit­ed States Army doesn’t take too kind­ly to nat­u­ral hair. Take a look at the­se two slides in par­tic­u­lar:

Appar­ent­ly, the new reg­u­la­tions seek to cre­ate a uni­form pro­fes­sion­al and clean-cut image across the board for both wom­en and men. I have no qualms with that goal (in the­o­ry), but rather how it is defined.  As with most def­i­n­i­tions of “clean-cut” and “pro­fes­sion­al”, the reg­u­la­tions seem to specif­i­cal­ly tar­get Black wom­en — those with nat­u­ral hair in par­tic­u­lar. Twists and locs are out the win­dow. Wom­en with short to medi­um length hair are allowed to wear it out — except for if the bulk of your hair pro­trudes more than two inch­es from the scalp. That auto­mat­i­cal­ly dis­counts any­one with any sort of nat­u­ral­ly tex­tured hair. Our hair doesn’t hang until it reach­es a cer­tain length (and even then it tends to extend far beyond two inch­es from our scalps) — and it most cer­tain­ly doesn’t lie flat unless straight­ened.

Here’s what the Army Reg­u­la­tions say about wear­ing hair loose, as a point of com­par­ison:

What about those ladies with hair that is con­sid­ered “long”? Bun reg­u­la­tions stip­u­late that the bunned hair itself can­not pro­trude more than three inch­es from the scalp, and can­not be wider than the with of the wearer’s head. Again, anoth­er slight toward wom­en with thick, dense nat­u­ral hair. It should be not­ed that corn­rows and indi­vid­u­al braids are per­mit­ted, but there are of course, strict reg­u­la­tions on the size, length, and styling of the­se braid­ed styles.

What I find the most inter­est­ing is that weaves and wigs are per­mit­ted. Can some­one please explain the ratio­nale behind it being okay to rock a lace­front, but not twists? And how on earth is it pos­si­ble for exten­sions and wigs to have the same gen­er­al appear­ance as the individual’s nat­u­ral hair and con­form to the AR 670–1 guide­li­nes — when her nat­u­ral hair may be unau­tho­rized to begin with?

And last­ly, before you just write me off as mak­ing a big stink about noth­ing,  note that “most of the appear­ance and groom­ing chap­ter are puni­tive”. There are con­se­quences for non­com­pli­ance. I’d real­ly like to hear from the Ser­vice­wom­en out there on this one — because as far as what I can see, the­se reg­u­la­tions deem nat­u­ral hair as unfit for wom­en in the Army.

To read the full arti­cle and Pow­er­Point pre­sen­ta­tion on Army Reg­u­la­tion 670–1, vis­it:

http://www.armytimes.com/article/20140320/NEWS/303200060/New-Army-grooming-appearance-regs-leaked-online

 

What do you all think? Do the new Army Reg­u­la­tions sin­gle out wom­en with nat­u­ral hair?

Christina Patrice

Born, raised, and liv­ing in Los Ange­les, Christi­na is BGLH’s res­i­dent tran­si­tion­ing expert and pro­duct junkie. In addi­tion to lov­ing all things hair, she is a fit­ness novice and advo­cate of wear­ing san­dals year-round. For more infor­ma­tion on tran­si­tion­ing, nat­u­ral hair, and her own hair jour­ney, vis­it maneobjective.com. Or, if you like pic­tures fol­low Christi­na on Insta­gram @maneobjective.

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196 Comments on "Do New Army Regulations Unfairly Target Women with Natural Hair?"

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Rudy
Wom­en aren’t tak­en seri­ous­ly in the armed forces because of sex­ist jerks like you. Peo­ple like you piss me off. Just because you don’t care doesn’t mean oth­ers shouldn’t. Just because you are a sheep and don’t ques­tion author­i­ty doesn’t mean oth­ers shouldn’t. It is OK to ask why.Especially when the rea­son­ing seems off. How is it vain to ques­tion why some­one cares so much about vain things? Clear­ly, the army isn’t doing this for safe­ty because they allow loose hair, weaves, and wigs. This is about looks. This about the army car­ing too much about appear­ance. So how is… Read more »
maggie

Actu­al­ly the ARMY does not con­form, there are rules and reg­u­la­tions for a rea­son. The ARMY is a Vol­un­teer force here is the issue I see you VOLUNTEERED TO BE A SOLDIER THE ARMY DIDN’T PICK YOU, so you need to abide by the Army’s rules and reg­u­la­tions not the oth­er way around.

Mika

Well tell your pre­cious mil­i­tary to go back to hir­ing all white men, fuck­ing moron! Black wom­en like you are the rea­son why this is even a prob­lem in the first place! Black wom­en prob­a­bly start­ed the­se issues with our hair in the mil­i­tary.

ella

Geez calm down! Can some­one express her opin­ion with­out being insult­ed SMH?

Natural Girl in the Army
Natural Girl in the Army

I’ve nev­er had a prob­lem with the Army regs. It’s as sim­ple as get­ting box braids instead of twists. I rocked a TWA that was in regs and I wouldn’t rec­om­mend it. We wear hats/helmets so often it’s not worth the strug­gle. I know plen­ty of nat­u­ral girls who just bun their hair up/lightly twist and pin their hair and dri­ve on. It real­ly isn’t that big of a deal.

CherishBomb
I believe the­se new reg­u­la­tions are indeed not-so-sub­tly direct­ed at nat­u­rals. There is absolute­ly no rea­son that nat­u­ral twists should not be allowed, but exten­sions and wigs are fine. Wigs fall off and slide, exten­sions fall out, and it seems there is absolute­ly no reg­u­la­tion on length of those items. Faux hair seems more a more like­ly can­di­date for being out of reg.  I can under­stand afros and SOME locs (because locs come in a pletho­ra of sizes from super thin to super bulky, which may or may not cause issues with equip­ment even when in a bun, but the nat­u­ral… Read more »
NubianPrize

As far as white coun­ter­parts under­stand­ing, I’ve come to real­ize that the major­i­ty of them will nev­er real­ly under­stand because it isn’t some­thing they go through; they can’t relate, much like they don’t understand/can’t relate to many race issues minori­ties face.”

Nat­u­ral hair bat­tles were fought in the 60s & 70s when afros became pop­u­lar. Stan­dards for “good groom­ing” & “pro­fes­sion­al appear­ance” were chal­lenged with law­suits. His­to­ry repeat­ing itself.

TRANSLATION: Whites still believe their phys­i­cal traits & stan­dards are the nat­u­ral default set­ting of the human race. Any­thing that devi­ates from that is abnor­mal & must be fixed.

emotionalwreck
TRANSLATION: Whites still believe their phys­i­cal traits & stan­dards are the nat­u­ral default set­ting of the human race. Any­thing that devi­ates from that is abnor­mal & must be fixed. You have an excel­lent point, and shock­ing­ly we blacks believe that as well. I’ve been out of the Army for sev­er­al years and the reg­u­la­tions have always been the same. The men’s hair can­not be long and there­fore, that means, Afros have to be real­ly short as well. . But like I stat­ed before, my hus­band has beautiful,super thick, long curly hair, it’s pret­ty bushy and he also had to have his locks… Read more »
Hairboom
Thank you for your hon­est and insight­ful reply. I know all too very well that oth­er races have no idea what goes into car­ing for black hair, and espe­cial­ly peo­ple with straight hair think­ing their hair is the “nor­mal” default hair. It isn’t only Cau­casian peo­ple who think this, I’ve seen it over and over again with Asian, Native Amer­i­can, and Lati­no peo­ple. I was born with curly hair in a straight haired fam­i­ly (mixed Lati­no and white) and went to this site to learn more about car­ing for my dry, coarse, 3A/B hair. What I’ve learned is that as… Read more »
Quia
I served active duty for 6 years and I have to agree with what one per­son states above, many of the things list­ed are not changed, they have always been. Locs were nev­er per­mit­ted. Twists are added to the list because many a female have skirt­ed around abid­ing my the regs regard­ing locs, stat­ing that their sis­ter locs are dif­fer­ent from “reg­u­lar locs” ans should be allowed, their starter locs are only tem­po­rary & can be tak­en out, etc. Rather than to allow excep­tions to the rules & hav­ing ppl of author­i­ty who aren’t famil­iar with tex­tured hair afraid to… Read more »
Jenny

Amen!!!
Clear­ly spo­ken by some­one who is actu­al­ly in the mil­i­tary ;)
Navy has had the two inch stan­dards for years.…
It is what it is–if you dont like it, dont sign on the dot­ted line.

Aisa @forusnaturals

When I was in the Army we were able to wear corn­rowed hair­styles and flat twists. Those are changes you didn’t men­tion. Why the lim­it on the num­ber of braids? Mul­ti­ple braids come out small­er and actu­al­ly help the hair to fit bet­ter under hats etc.

DeeW
I com­plete­ly agree. To those who aren’t in the mil­i­tary, the­se regs look ridicu­lous and they couldn’t pos­si­bly under­stand why any­one would go along with it. Well, this is the way it’s been for YEARS. All it takes is one slight change and it gives peo­ple the ammo they need to say “those regs are racist!”. I tell you what, when we test for pro­mo­tion, skin col­or and what your hair looks like isnt judged. If the mil­i­tary had it the way they real­ly want­ed, every wom­ans hair would be in a sock bun and every mans head would be… Read more »
emotionalwreck
None of you know what you’re talk­ing about. Num­ber 1 Most of y ou weren’t in the mil­i­tary. You have to look like a sol­dier and that’s that. Hair­style should look pro­fes­sion­al not fash­ion­able. There are rea­sons why the females (black or white) have to wear their hair about 3 inch­es abover their col­lar. Rea­sons you wouldn’t under­stand. There is a rule for all females whether black or white. White wom­en also can­not wear their hair all over flow­ing It has to be in a sim­ple bun or tucked in as long as it’s 2 to 3 inch­es above the… Read more »
Mika

You sound igno­rant. This isn’t about want­i­ng to be fash­ion­able or not con­form­ing. A white wom­en can wear her nat­u­ral straight hair out if it is abou­ve her col­lar but a black wom­en can­not. That’s what makes this a racial issue. It’s the same as say­ing wom­en with blonde hair need to dye their hair brown. Total­ly ridicu­lous. Too bad most peo­ple are too brain­washed and igno­rant to see that. This should total­ly be ille­gal!

Natarche

I’m nat­u­ral, and I just wear my hair in a bun. My hair is long. No big deal. Most of the rea­son­ing is prop­er fit of head gear and ppe. Black wom­en can wear their nat­u­ral hair down, it has to be one length or each length no longer than 1″ of the oth­ers. There are stan­dards for every­one to abide by, they just lim­it cer­tain ways that you would wear your nat­u­ral hair.

Luca

It doesn’t mat­ter if you’re white, black, blue, pur­ple, or orange. The regs apply to all.

Jon

What do you mean ‘rea­sons we wouldn’t under­stand’? They’re not clas­si­fied & the rules have been around since Roman Sol­diers. Wom­en in the Mil­i­tary can fight bat­tles now so they have to be bat­tle dress ready. Sol­diers are trained to grab beards & long hair to snap the neck or to immo­bi­lize the head to cut the throat. Your mass pro­duced, one-size-fits-all hel­met must also fit over your head.

emotionalwreck
As for braids, I wore braids in the army an so did some of my oth­er black friends. I wore braids for about 2 years in the Army. I nev­er got any flack, because I wore my braids tucked up. If I saw a sol­dier with her nat­u­ral hair all out and loose bare­ly fit­ting under her army gear, I would see her as an impos­tor, because all female sol­diers know that they need to wear their hair up above the col­lar. In fact white wom­en in the army can’t wear loose long pony tails, it has to be bunned… Read more »
Puff

SIGN THIS PETITION! https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/reconsider-changes-ar-670–1-allow-professional-ethnic-hairstyles/BnR900wx

This is out­ra­geous and shows a real lack of under­stand­ing for black hair (no sur­prise since this deci­sion was made by a white man). Again, please sign this peti­tion to show them that Black wom­en should not be treat­ed as an after thought and straight (white) hair is not default!

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/reconsider-changes-ar-670–1-allow-professional-ethnic-hairstyles/BnR900wx

Anon

No thanks. There are bat­tles to fight and there are bat­tles to watch. There are too many oth­er things in this world to wor­ry about. The right of black wom­en in the Army to wear two strands, locs and corn­rows will not end the lack of social mobil­i­ty and decrease income dis­par­i­ty.

Mika
They should NOT be able to say “bulk of hair” isn’t allowed because that’s the nat­u­ral state of many black women’s hair. As a wom­en with thick hair I’m extreme­ly offend­ed and insult­ed by this and I’m not even in the mil­i­tary! I know my hair can smash flat to my head if I lay down or put some­thing on my head so that rea­son­ing they’re using about head gear is not valid just an excuse. They’re just try­ing to say black women’s nat­u­ral hair isn’t pro­fes­sion­al look­ing, that’s all. I think they can all go to hell. Too bad too… Read more »
maggie

Actu­al­ly the bulk of hair is for EVERYONE white, black, his­pan­ic, and asian there is no one race that does­nt have bulk. My hair when down is bulky and when i had short hair i had to con­form to mil­tary stan­dards, i got yelled at in basic train­ing in 2003 because it looked like it was below my col­lar when i tried to wear it up it was not enough to fit in a bun. So hon­est­ly you dont know what your talk­ing about.

Mika

Are you seri­ous? That’s like say­ing blonde hair is not allowed whether you’re black, white, Asian, or His­pan­ic. How many peo­ple of oth­er races have kinky poufy hair? And how many black wom­en do?? Yea most of them do, and most wom­en of oth­er races do not. I don’t get your com­ment? The vast major­i­ty of black wom­en have that hair type, NATURALLY. Get off of here with your white­washed BS.

maggie
Are you seri­ous? That’s like say­ing blonde hair is not allowed whether you’re black, white, Asian, or His­pan­ic. How many peo­ple of oth­er races have kinky poufy hair? And how many black wom­en do?? Yea most of them do, and most wom­en of oth­er races do not. I don’t get your com­ment? The vast major­i­ty of black wom­en have that hair type, NATURALLY. Get off of here with your white­washed BS.  Actu­al­ly I am right. It has noth­ing to do with the type of hair you have, you can have bulk no mat­ter what race you are. You said your… Read more »
ella
I have to agree with Quia. While I under­stand the issue of nat­u­ral hair, you have to keep in mind that this is the mil­i­tary and some nat­u­ral hair­styles are not allowed in the army for safe­ty rea­sons and uni­form pur­pos­es. It’s rather iron­ic that wigs and weaves are allowed but that’s anoth­er sto­ry. I have been nat­u­ral for years now and I’ve also served in the army and unfor­tu­nate­ly I have to con­form to army stan­dards. Twists and locks have been banned for years now. I usu­al­ly wear corn­rows and french braids and no one bat­ted an eye or… Read more »
Hairboom

My ques­tion is do they expect you to relax your hair as a mat­ter of course? If you’re sta­tioned way out in the boonies some­where will you be pun­ished for grow­ing out a fro or do they ship in hair relax­er by the crate full so you can do your hair by some stream or well, pol­lut­ing the water with nasty poi­son? I think it sounds ridicu­lous­ly clue­less, like they’re demand­ing you grow your hair out dif­fer­ent­ly. What’s wrong with corn­rows or twists? They are pret­ty main­stream nowa­days.

trackback

[…] on hair styles, cit­ing the rules as dis­crim­i­na­to­ry toward sol­diers with nat­u­ral hair. Recent­ly, the Army issued reg­u­la­tions again­st twists, afros, buns above a cer­tain size, and locs while in terms same breath allow­ing […]

Summerglo

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BeautyDefined
I am cur­rent­ly in the Mil­i­tary, serv­ing in the US Air Force, been in for 7 years. I’m see­ing a lot of com­ments about “the force is voluntary…don’t sign the dot­ted line if you don’t like the reg­u­la­tions” …What’s miss­ing in this point is that the mis­sion of the armed forces should always be con­sid­ered when mak­ing ANY type of reg­u­la­tion. The reg­u­la­tions are sub­ject to change, and have over the years. If you don’t believe me, please remem­ber that at one point blacks weren’t allowed in the mil­i­tary.… wom­en weren’t allowed in the military…at one point, the Air Force… Read more »
AmandaH

I’m white and I don’t have nat­u­ral straight hair that all. My air is frizzy, not curly, but a lit­tle wavy and frizzy and I put that shit in a bun. Quit noth­ing and nut up… I want pret­ty dirty blonde high­lights for week­ends when I staight­en my hair. Guess what OH WELL BROWN GAIR NICE NEST BUN FOR ME cause I’m a fuck­ing solid­er not some mag­a­zine mod­el.

TannieB

Aman­da H, I bet u wouldn’t know what to do with coarse, kinky nap­py hair. Frizzy hair? GTFOH!!! you’re a sol­dier 24–7 so wear your hair in a bun all the time.

Rose

What a fool you are to com­pare your hair to true afro hair. It is total­ly unalike. Your opin­ion is use­less here.

Dimples
I have had black peo­ple in the mil­i­tary tell me I should get a perm. My hair when not in braids or a weave is pinned down . At this point I don’t think the issue is about race. The SMA might be white but I can bet on it that there are just as many black peo­ple that don’t care for the­se hair styles in the mil­i­tary. I want equal­i­ty before I care about my hair type. Wom­en still are mis­treat­ed or thought less of in the army still. Sex­u­al assaults and har­rase­ments would not be as high if… Read more »
armygirl
I think a lot of you have not expe­ri­enced what I have expe­ri­ence in the army. I am a sol­dier first. I love being a sol­dier. I respect and val­ue my branch and all that comes with it. When I joined in 2007 the only thing that was not autho­rized was dreads. Now I do agree that this reg­u­la­tion tar­gets black wom­en because we are gen­er­al­ly the ones wear­ing braids, twists, bulky hair, and dreads. That is our cul­ture. That is what is eas­i­est for our hair. The prob­lem though is not the reg­u­la­tion, it is the rea­son behind the… Read more »
Talya McNickles

You sound like you are okay with chang­ing your self to be accept­ed by the white man.

TannieB
I’ve been in the Army ten years and yes I do believe those who amend­ed the regs were unin­formed. How they gonna allow fake hair, but not twists? C’mon, all you wan­na be hoah hoah females are out of regs in some way. Half of ya’ll are prob­a­bly over­weight or tat­ted up like ya’ll are some thug ass dudes or some­thing, or ya’ll wear weave all day long. My nat­u­ral hair grows the way it grows. I know I can’t wear a ten inch fro, but I can’t wear twists? But female Sol­diers can wear fake eye­lash­es? Ya’ll sound stu­pid.… Read more »
Solita

I agree ive said some­thing about that from when i want­ed to go nat­u­ral the­se regs should be amend­ed.. they amend­ed reg­u­la­tions for peo­ple that want to be mar­ried to the same sex, why not amend them for peo­ple that want to wear their hair nat­u­ral… it is dis­crim­i­na­tion or lack of inclu­sion in my opin­ion

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