Military Revises Controversial Hair Policies

I’ll be honest with you; I didn’t go natural as an attempt to connect with my roots. I did so because of issues with damage.

But ever since I started wearing my hair in its natural, coily state, I realized that Black hair is much more political than one would imagine. Black women have not been afforded the privilege to be able to wear their hair “as is” without affliction.

From facing expulsion and being fired, to banning and downright terrible insults, the policing of Black hair is very real.

So when the military released hair regulations calling popular Black hairstyles like dreadlocks and twists “matted and unkempt,” I was disappointed, but not surprised. It wasn’t the first time that Black hair was deemed unacceptable, but it still hurt.

As of Tuesday, it appears as though the military will allow female service members to have a wider range of hairstyles, according to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

I am happy that there is an attempt being made “to ensure standards are fair and respectful,” especially in a time when Black women in the military are being dismissed and demoted for wearing the hair that grows out of their heads.

“Each Military Service reviewed its definitions of authorized and prohibited hairstyles, and eliminated offensive language, including the terms ‘matted and unkempt’ from both the Army and the Air Force grooming regulations,” reads Hagel’s letter to CBC Chairwoman Marcia Fudge.

CBC member Rep. Barbara Lee is a supporter of the change, according to the Huffington Post. “I am pleased that these terms will be removed from the regulation,” she said.

I think Lee said it best when she said “natural hairstyles do not reflect or create a lack of professionalism or respect for the Armed Forces’ high standards.”

And that goes for any environment, military or not.