Now Under Review: Military Hairstyles

Twists, dreads were largely banned in rules some complain targeted black women

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 30, 2014 6:49 AM CDT

(Newser) – The military increasingly has abandoned its one-size-fits-all haircut as the face of the American soldier has diversified, but new rules on hair sparked a furor amid concerns that they unfairly restricted black women. Now Chuck Hagel has ordered a review "to ensure standards are fair and respectful of our diverse force," the New York Times reports. The new rules largely barred women from wearing their hair in twists, large cornrows, and dreadlocks, the Military Times notes. But the review is more overarching than just the new Army regulations, the New York Times notes: It will look at existing rules across all military services after years of complaints of racial bias.

The review comes after a request by the women in the Congressional Black Caucus. "I want to assure you that, while none of the Army’s revised grooming and appearance policies were designed or intended to discriminate or disparage against any service members, I take your concerns very seriously," Hagel replied. Over the next 30 days, services will review hairstyle definitions and remove offensive language, the Military Times reports; the full review will last three months, with Hagel making "appropriate adjustments" based on the findings.

This undated image shows new Army grooming regulations for females. New Army regulations meant to help standardize and professionalize soldiers’ appearance is now coming under criticism.   (AP Photo/US Army)
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