Military Lets Its Hair (Policy) Down, OKs Dreadlocks
Military branches to update grooming rules; old ones dubbed racist
By Shelley Hazen,  Newser User
Posted Aug 14, 2014 1:43 PM CDT
This undated image provided by the US Army shows the old Army grooming regulations for females, released earlier this year.   (AP Photo/US Army)

(Newser) – The Pentagon is rolling back its grip on how military personnel wear their hair, and will now allow twisted braids, dreadlocks, and cornrows after complaints that banning them was racist, the Virginian-Pilot reports. "Each service reviewed its hairstyle policies to ensure standards are fair and respectful while also meeting military requirements," Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told members of the Congressional Black Caucus in a letter this week. Lawmakers—who were angered in April—accused the military of cultural insensitivity, which doesn't create a "tolerant environment for minorities," reports

The Army, Navy, and Air Force have already rubber-stamped the inclusion of more hairstyles, and language that deemed them "unkempt" and "matted" has been removed. The Marine Corps is still debating and will meet later this year, reports the Military Times. All updates are being finalized. "These changes recognize that traditional hairstyles worn by women of color are often necessary to meet our unique needs," says CBC chair Marcia Fudge. "A lot of people are like, 'It's the regs, and if you don't like it, get out,' " says one female petty officer. "But it's a new day." Hagel outlined the grooming policy changes in this official letter.