Local News

Changes to Army grooming rules leave black female troops with fewer options

Posted April 1, 2014
Updated April 2, 2014

— Changes to the Army’s personal appearance code have sparked complaints from black female soldiers, who say the grooming regulations are restrictive and will make their hair care difficult.

The update to Army Regulation 670-1, which was published Monday, bans multiple braids, twists and dredlocks and limits cornrows to no more than a quarter of an inch.

The revision prompted Sgt. Jasmine Jacobs of the Georgia National Guard, who wears her hair in two twists, to start a White House petition calling on the president to reconsider the rules because they are racially biased. The petition had nearly 6,000 signatures as of Tuesday.

Many black female soldiers at Fort Bragg say braids and natural twists are not only stylish, they are lifesavers in the field.

"I just came out of the field Friday, so it was better for me to just pull mine back,” Staff Sgt. Lakashka Moore said. “But if I had it braided, it would have been a whole lot better because I don’t have to comb it. I won’t have to do anything. If we’ve got to go do something, I’m just able to get up and go.”

Spc. Shanell Tillis said the new regulations are forcing her to rethink her next hairstyle.

“I wanted micro-braids, so (I) can’t get those now because of the new regulation,” she said.

The updated grooming policy has some black female soldiers scrambling to come up with ways to wear their hair in regulation, especially when they know they're going into the field for extended periods.

"A lot of my military clients, because they do PT or because they do a lot of working out, or they're outside, they wear sew-in,” said hairstylist Denise Granberry of the L3 Salon and Spa. “So, if I can't braid their hair down, they can't get the sew-in."

In an Army news release, Sgt. Maj. Raymond F. Chandler II explained the changes to the code, which also tightened regulations on tattoos, sideburns, mustaches and other aspects of appearance.

"The Army is a profession, and one of the ways our leaders and the American public measure our professionalism is by our appearance," he said. "Wearing of the uniform, as well as our overall military appearance, should be a matter of personal pride for all soldiers.”


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  • jackaroe123 Apr 3, 2014

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    If all concerns about safety and job performance are answered, the only continuing reason to object to tight, well kept braids is appearance. That's a subjective thing, and to each his own, but if the official stance of an organization draws a line that has a major impact on people due to their racial characteristics... that's worth re-evaluating. It doesn't mean anyone set out to do anything racist, but if it unintentionally has a race-based effect, and that's pointed out to you, and you still won't do anything to rectify it... that's getting pretty close to racist even if you didn't want to be or mean to be.

  • CaptLucy Apr 2, 2014

    God forbid having to comb your hair. I know that is a huge inconvience. I have to put mine in a bun everyday to go to work(Navy). I sure wish i could jump out of bed and go. I am overwhelmed with the task of keeping my hair withing standards everyday. Cry about it.

  • anonemoose Apr 2, 2014

    So how many options do the guys get? Pretty much 2 options. None and very short. I'd say that is sexist.

  • bmac813 Apr 2, 2014

    When I went into the Army , I had no Choice, BUZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

  • N Diana Bobbitt Apr 2, 2014
    user avatar

    I can understand limiting excessive jewelry, or long nails, but braided hair seems to be much easier to maintain in the field than "cut" hair. As long as it doesn't interfere with work details, I think braids would look more professional than short hair jammed underneath a cap. Maybe this needs to be revisited?

  • PanthersFan45 Apr 2, 2014

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    I think the shaved look is kind of cool myself. I'm not bald but I like my hair cut short anyway (not shaved). Very true, the shorter it is the easier it is to maintain. Hey Demi Moore (GI Jane) and Grace Jones have sported short hair and they look very good IMHO.

  • jrctbc1987 Apr 2, 2014

    Wow, I do not see anything racial here. Ignorance for bringing that up period. Not EVERYTHING is racial.......get over it.

  • TheCape Apr 2, 2014

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    No see, we have options. We can get a flat top, a high and tight, or shave all our hair off. So many options, I would be sad if they took any away. [/sarcasm]

  • Catherine West Apr 2, 2014
    user avatar

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    That's what the military does. Ask any man that is in the military, they have to have buzz cuts.

  • Fanny Chmelar Apr 2, 2014
    user avatar

    The military owns you. You let them. Comply. It's pretty simple.

    I do understand her rationale (braids are easier) - but so is cutting your hair short, or going with an approved style.