The Pentagon relaxed restrictions on certain previously banned hairstyles that were predominantly worn by African American women.
Some of the changes included, according to a letterfrom Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel: Army, Navy and the Air Force authorized two-strand twists; the Army authorized ponytails during physical training exercises; and the Navy removed some “dated” terms from its website’s frequently asked questions section. Additionally, the Marines are “convening a special uniform board this summer to consider the expansion of authorized hairstyles.”
According to The Washington Post:
“In a letter, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who in April announced a three-month review of the regulations, said that each branch ‘reviewed its definition of authorized and prohibited styles, and eliminated offensive language, including the terms ‘matted and unkempt,’ from both the Army and Air Force grooming regulations.’”
His letter was addressed to Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, who is the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus .
Rep. Fudge sent a letter to Hagel in April where she said:
“We strongly encourage you to reconsider the updated regulation as it relates to grooming standards and how it allows individuals from every community to feel proud and welcome to serve in our nation’s Armed Forces. Many African American women put forth great effort in ensuring their hair is maintained in a way that allows them to be acknowledged for their appearance. We urge you to consider the direction in which the updated regulation will ultimately lead the Armed Forces.”
The letter was signed by Fudge and 15 members of the Congressional Black Caucus.Rep. Fudge thanked Hagel for the changes that were made.