Hair styling has never really been a “just hair” issue for black women. Whether rocking it in the professional world or during a protest, afros, locs and braids have long served both as a means of personal, religious and sociopolitical expression.
The U.S. military has had strict dress and grooming codes in place. But, as more and more black women have joined the armed forces, the issue of hair became more complicated. Many soldiers lobbied for the right to wear their hair in varied styles.
According to the Marine Corps Times, the U.S. Marines became the first branch to allow locs and twists, starting the policy in December 2015. According to News One, the U.S. Army followed suit in January 2017.
Now, according to The Associated Press, the U.S. Navy is joining the hairstyle movement and will allow locs, rope-like strands (such as braids or twists), wider hair buns and ponytails to be worn by its female servicemembers.
“Because of the texture of my hair, it stood straight up,” recalled Captain Thurraya Kent, who was forced to remove her braids under the old policy. “It was a very embarrassing moment that stays with you.”
Many other styles, including ponytails and buns, will also be allowed under the new relaxed rules if they do not interfere with the female sailor’s operational or safety needs. Male sailors will still be required to keep their hair short, however.
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 Techyaya.com, founder of the Digital Publiching Academy and JayJayGhatt.com 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 JJBraids.com and is the founder of BlackWomenTech.com 200 Black Women in Tech On Twitter. Her biz podcast 10 Minute Podcast is available on iTunes and Player.fm. to Follow her on Twitter at @Jenebaspeaks. Buy her templates over at her legal and business templates on Etsy shop!