US Marines Become 1st Military Service to Permit Locks & 2-Strand Twists, Release Demo (VIDEO)

Last Spring 2014, the US Army released a new hair policy that unfortunately banned two protective styles commonly worn by black women: the Two –strand twists and locs.

As you can imagine, it got tremendous backlash with people calling the policy racially insensitive.

That firestorm led to a comprehensive review of all hair policies. After receiving a letter from the Congressional Black Caucus, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel urged all branches of the U.S. Military to review their respective uniform and hair policy.

All of the armed forces held their own respective reviews. Here’s how it went down:

  • The Army, Navy and Air Force made immediate changes.
  • All three permitted two strand twists but the Marines will be the first members of the U.S. military to permit locks in the hair while in uniform. The new policy was announced Monday.
  • The Army increased the size of authorized cornrows.
  • The Navy started allowing larger buns.
  • The Air Force permitted French twists and Dutch braids.
  • Both the Army and Air Force took out the words “matted” and “unkempt” from their grooming policies though they still ban locks.
  • The Air Force, recognizing the negative connotation sometimes associated with dreadlocks changed the term to “locks”. But….still banned them along with a shaved head, flat tops and military high and tight cuts.
  • The Navy’s definition of banned hair do not explicitly say dreadlocks or locks but, in practice, that’s what it describes: fused or coiled strands of hair that cannot easily be combed out.
  • Unlike the other branches, the Marine Corps undertook a longer review. They consulted with stylists, put out surveys and in the end , Staff Sgt. Cherle Wright proposed the addition of locks and twists, according to the Marines.

    Then Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller approved the new female hairstyle recommendations that were made by a Marine Corps uniform board, the Marines said in a statement.

    The changes give female Marines more ways to wear their hair while still maintaining a professional and neat appearance, Marine Corps officials said in their statement. Locks and twists, in particular, may be easier for some female Marines to maintain while deployed and are less costly and time-consuming to maintain than other approved styles, officials said.

    And get this: The Marines took it a step further to specifically describe the way the twists should be arranged down to their size and spacing!

    • A lock as a section of hair that twists from or near the root to the ends of the hair, creating “a uniform ringlet” or cord-like appearance. A twist consists of two sections of hair twisted together to form a rope or cord-like appearance and may be worn with medium-length and long hair.
    • Locks require partings to be square or rectangular in shape.
    • Locks, multiple braids and multiple twists must encompass the whole head — with the exception of bangs — and mixing styles is not allowed.
    • Faddish and exaggerated styles, such as designs cut in the hair or spikes, and conspicuous hair accessories are still banned.
    The service plans to set up a web page with illustrations showing authorized and unauthorized male and female hairstyles but released this instructional video below , in the meantime, to show how to wear the newly approved hairstyles.

    Jeneba Jalloh Ghatt can be heard nightly at 8pm on DCRadio/WHUR 96.3HD4 on "Coming to America with Wayna and Friends. She is an editor at, founder of the Digital Publiching Academy and where she teaches online creators how to navigate digital entrepreneurship and offers Do-It-For-You Blogging Service. She manages her lifestyle sites BellyitchBlog, Jenebaspeaks and and is the founder of 200 Black Women in Tech On Twitter. Her biz podcast 10 Minute Podcast is available on iTunes and to Follow her on Twitter at @Jenebaspeaks. Buy her templates over at her legal and business templates on Etsy shop!