Are The New Army Changes (AR 670-1) Discriminatory to Women with Natural Hair?

Thursday, March 19th, new army regulations as it relates to grooming and appearance were leaked online.  The leaked information included a PowerPoint, Army Regulation 670-1 leader training, with explicit details and pictures explaining the new polices.  Many of the new guidelines directly affect African American women in the Army.

Updated Female Grooming Standards include the following:

  • Clarifies unauthorized hairstyles (dreadlocks & twists)
  • Twists
    • Defined as twisting two distinct strands of hair around one another to create a rope-like appearance.
    • Although some twists may be temporary, they are still unauthorized.
    • This includes twists formed against the scalp or in a free-hanging style.
  • Dreadlocks
    • Defined as any matted or locked coils or ropes of hair (or extensions).
    • Any style of deadlock (against the scalp or free hanging) are not authorized.
    • Any unkempt of matted braids or cornrows are considered dreadlocks and are not authorized.
The PowerPoint also goes on to explain that portions of AR 670-1 and more of the appearance and grooming chapter are punitive.  Violations of the punitive sections by Soldiers may result in adverse administration and/or charges under the provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

Subsequently, on March 20th, 2014, a petition was started on to petition the Obama Administration to reconsider the changes to the AR 670-1 to allow professional ethnic hairstyles.  The petition reads as follows:

“More than 30% of females serving in the military are of a race other than white. As of 2011, 36% of females in the U.S. stated that they are natural, or refrain from chemically processing their hair. Females with natural hair take strides to style their natural hair in a professional manner when necessary; however, changes to AR 670-1 offer little to no options for females with natural hair. In the proposed changes, unauthorized hairstyles include twists, both flat twists as well as two strand twists; as well as dreadlocks, which are defined as “any matted or locked coils or ropes of hair.” These new changes are racially biased and the lack of regard for ethnic hair is apparent. This policy needs to be reviewed prior to publishing to allow for neat and maintained natural hairstyles.”

I found out about these proposed changes through a Facebook friend who currently serves in the military. I wholeheartedly support the petition.  Neat and maintained natural hair styles can be professional. By banning all twists and dreadlocks, the Army is stating they do not believe a women’s hair can be professional in this state.

I urge you to stand with me and others by signing the petition on. To sign the petition to reconsider the changes to the AR 670-1 to allow professional ethnic hairstyles click here.

How do you feel about these proposed changes to the military dress code as it relates to natural hair?

Are these new rules discriminatory or racist towards African American women?