Black female soldiers say new grooming regulation is ‘racially biased’

2 Apr

Thousands of soldiers and others have signed a White House petition calling for the president to order the Army to reconsider just-released appearance and grooming regulations they contend are “racially biased” against black women.

The update to Army Regulation 670-1 was published Monday , and among the rules are clarifications for Army-appropriate hairstyles. For example, the Army does not allow twists or multiple braids that are bigger than a quarter of an inch in diameter. The reg also bans dreadlocks of any style, and cornrows must be uniform and no bigger than a quarter of an inch.


Twists and dreadlocks have been prohibited since 2005, but the regulation at the time did not clearly define the specific hairstyles, Army spokesman Paul Prince said.

The new AR 670-1 clearly defines the different hairstyles and gives soldiers specific guidance on what’s allowed, he said. Leadership training released in mid-March, published before the reg was official, includes photos of a number of unauthorized hairstyles, several of which are popular natural hair styles among black women.

“I’ve been in the military six years, I’ve had my hair natural four years, and it’s never been out of regulation. It’s never interfered with my head gear,” said Sgt. Jasmine Jacobs, of the Georgia National Guard, who wears her hair in two twists.

Thanks for sharing Tiffani W. It’s important we contribute to this conversation. “Get a perm, or go home” attitudes have no place in the 21st century.

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2 Responses to “Black female soldiers say new grooming regulation is ‘racially biased’”

  1. NaturalyKinky April 14, 2014 at 5:35 pm #

    I wanted to reply to this post because I take a different stance. I am a “military brat” so I have seen many men and women who serve in our armed forces and I believe they do right to have regulations in regards to dress and hair. I don’t think the new regulations were put in place to discriminate against any one type of person, be it race, gender, or hair length. For as long as the armed forces have been in place there has always been regulations of this sort. With that being said if you don’t agree with the regulation then don’t join the army.And if you have been in the army already then you are already aware of the regulations and should not be surprised. Its sad to say, but sometimes I feel like we as Black Men and Women are always in the position of “Woe is me” and in reality we need to pick our battles and this is not one we should be fighting.

    • Noelle K. Barnes August 12, 2014 at 11:42 am #

      Hello NaturallyKinky! Thanks so much for your comment and insider perspective. I agree that regulations most certainly play a necessary role in the armed forces. But I also feel that brothers and sisters in the army (and any sphere of life) have many necessary responsibilities, and one of them should be to encourage an atmosphere of cultural inclusion, recognition and tolerance. Every bit of discourse helps to break up the taboos and stigmas that sometimes lead to the undervaluing of not only the black cultural experience, but black life period. I’m definitely on my Michael Brown soapbox today though.

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