The U.S. Military has eased restrictions on a number of hairstyles and other personal appearance rules for women serving in the army. One of the rules states that women wearing combat clothing will now be permitted to wear their hair down. The old policy required them to wear their hair on top of their head in a tight bun. For the first time in history, women serving in the National Guard can sport a buzz cut, put locks in short ponytails at all times and long ponytails during combat or in training. Women can also have highlights in their hair, wear conservative shades of lipstick and nail polish (specific colour shades have been marked out), and ear studs when not on the field. Men will also now be able to colour their hair.
Source- US Army's Website
In addition to this, for the first time, the U.S. army has included very liberal guidelines for breastfeeding as well, allowing the soldier to wear a specially designed nursing tee shirt under their jackets that can unzip at any point without any cover to pump or breastfeed. This latest grooming regulation will affect 127,000 women serving in the Army and National Guard. The changes come after longstanding objections from women who said they wanted the ability to wear their hair in ways that are naturally an important part of their racial identity. While wearing a ponytail may seem like a small change to a civilian mind, for women in Army it’s an indication that the state and Army is listening to their issues. Speaking to the New York Times, Capt. Jawana McFadden, an Army National Guard Officer who has served the US Army for the past 22 years always felt that women’s hair compromised not only who she was as a woman but also as a soldier. She also mentioned how her big curls would need a lot of gel and hot comb to straighten out and put into a bun (as mandated), thereby pushing the helmet over her eyes, hindering her vision in combat.
The bench that passed the new set of rules consisted of a diverse panel of 10 black women, four white women, one Hispanic woman, one Hispanic man, and one Black man, from all rankings.
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