“The US Army Banned Natural Hair”: New Hair Regulations For Female Soldiers Called Racially Biased

April 1, 2014  |  

Twists? Forbidden! Dreadlocks? Prohibited! Afros? Forget it! The US Army’s new hair regulations have infuriated the social media world. “The US army basically just banned black women from wearing natural hair,” a Twitter user said.

Since the Army Regulation 670-1 was leaked on March 20, the US Army has been in boiling hot water due to suspicions of racial bias against natural black hair. Dreadlocks, defined as “matted or locked coils,” are strictly forbidden. Not even twists will fly in the military. “Although some twists are temporary (can easily be untwisted), they are unauthorized,” the rules said.

Dreadlocks and twists are still prohibited when they’re pulled back into a bun. Strangely enough, hair that is not locked or twisted are accepted in buns.

A female soldiers is allowed to wear her hair loose — as long as her tresses does not surpass her collar. But this does not apply to women whose hair protrudes more than two inches away from the scalp. Welp, guess ‘fros are out of the question! “That automatically discounts anyone with any sort of naturally textured hair. Our hair… most certainly doesn’t lie flat unless straightened,” wrote BlackGirlLongHair.

But what adds fuel to the fire is that the US Army has no qualms against lace fronts, wigs, or hair extensions — just as long as it has “the same general appearance as the individual’s natural hair,” the hair guidelines said

“How on earth is it possible for extensions and wigs to have the same general appearance as the individual’s natural hair…when her natural hair may be unauthorized to begin with?” BlackGirlLongHair added.

A dreadlock-rocking army veteran, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Stream about her thoughts on the new hair regulations:

“It’s very targeted because we all know who they’re talking about even though they never explicitly say the world ‘black’ or ‘African-American.’ We all know who typically wears these types of hairstyles and then they went as far as to include pictures of black women in the PowerPoint.”

Ruffling some feathers, the US Army’s new guidelines compelled the circulation of a White House petition urging the military to allow women to wear natural hairstyles in a neat and professional fashion: “These new changes are racially biased and the lack of regard for ethnic hair is apparent. This policy needs to be reviewed.”

So far, the petition has amassed nearly 5,000 signatures.

Do you think the Army should revise its hair guidelines?

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  • alexandria

    Unfortunately, it’s not only the army that has those restrictions. That goes for all of the other branches as well.

  • nas

    Hair that raises more than 2 inches off the scalp causes some equipment that requires tight-fitting over the face/head to not work properly, such as a gas mask. with 2 inches of hair in the way between the mask and the scalp, you can’t get a tight enough seal.

  • Patrick Ward

    The reason soldiers started shaving their head in the first place is so that their helmet stays on and they don’t get shot in the head.

    If you have a problem with this, shave your head or don’t join.

    • Erica Dawn Addakay

      Women in the Air Force weren’t allowed to have a haircut too closely resembling a man’s. This too geared towards black women with fades and even cuts! So try again!

  • Janet

    My daughter is in the Army and has natural hair. She wears it low because 1) it’s easier; 2) she’s too damn busy to be worrying about her hair. I agree that women should be able to wear their hair in a bun no matter what texture, but also remember that it’s the military. Women (and men) have specific rules that go for EVERYONE. The last thing those soldiers are worrying about is their hair.

    • Erica Dawn Addakay

      It supposed to “apply to everyone,” however, we know better!

  • Huh

    As long as an afro doesn’t pass your shoulders what’s the problem?

  • Gert

    These rules have been around forever, men have rules too…We have far more issues that takes presedence over this, I’m sorry. I know many women who are natural in the Service and have had no issues in regards to how to maintain their hair.

  • Mynx

    I’m sure this has gone on for a long time. My husband says if a guy wants to wear a mustache, it has to be within regulations…. a mustache. I’m sure they have their reasons for specific hair style. In my opinion, if I had joined the army, the last thing I would worry about is how to style my hair.

    • Erica Dawn Addakay

      a mustache is much different from the hair on a woman’s head. We weren’t “worried” about our hair when we were doing what we had to do to “maintain” it (locs, twists, braids, buns, etc.). But these regulations add a whole new element to it.

  • Ivy

    i joined the army last year, this has BEEN in effect.

  • Uuuh…

    Welp, this should be a starting point for black women (and black men) to stop risking their lives for a country that doesn’t value them as an individual. My father and grandfathers served in the armed forces, but I have never and will never even consider it. I respect all who do, but it’s just not for me.

  • nss

    What a shame..these women go and risk their lives to fight for our country but have all these unnecessary regulations.

  • Live_in_LDN

    If you’re willing to get yourself blown up over some oil then you can do so in a neon pink mohawk for all I care.

  • Hmm

    First of all, a big afro being unauthorized is understandable because it directly affects the way you wear your equipment. However, twists and dreads can be pulled into a bun and be worn in short styles. Those two need to be reconsidered.

  • guest

    i can’t even….

  • Blu

    ONLY 5000 signatures? Smh there was way more in the first hour of justin biebers hoopla to get him deported.