Black female troops accuse Army of banning natural hair styles
A petition to the White House calling on the U.S. Army to reconsider its grooming policy, which many Black female soldiers are calling biased, has garnered thousands of signatures.
The Army Times reports that of the signatures collected, thousands are from soldiers who are unhappy with the Army’s new grooming standards.
At issue are the Army’s changes to Army Regulation 670-1, which bans twists and multiple braids larger than a quarter in diameter. Locs are not allowed at all and cornrows are strictly regulated.
According to Army spokesman Paul Prince, locs and twists have always been banned, so the U.S. Army’s new guidelines just provide soldiers with guidance.
The regulations also show pictures of banned hairstyles, many of which are of 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,” Sgt. Jasmine Jacobs, of the Georgia National Guard, who wears her hair in two twists, told the Army Times.
Jacobs says because of the new regulations, she’s “at a loss” over what to do with her hair. Her sentiment makes sense because the Army’s current regulations, by banning both locs and twists, are banning Black women from wearing most natural hairstyles. With these regulations in place, the only natural style available to women of color are a short afro or fade.
“Most Black women, their hair doesn’t grow straight down, it grows out,” said Jacobs, who started the White House petition. “I’m disappointed to see the Army, rather than inform themselves on how black people wear their hair, they’ve white-washed it all.”
“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,” wrote Jacobs in the White House petition.
For now, Jacobs says she’ll wear a wig because she refuses to relax her hair.