Late last night, I was on Facebook clicking through interesting articles my friends were re-posting. One in particular caught my eye — not because of the title, but because of the picture associated used to promote the article:
I saw a Black woman and the phrase “twists are not authorized”, and I was hooked. I jumped in full steam ahead, reading up on the newly approved Army Regulation 670–1 and pouring over each slide of the leaked Army Regulation 670–1 Leader Training Powerpoint. Amid the regulations about tattoos, uniforms, and facial hair for men, there were some not-so-subtle hints that the United States Army doesn’t take too kindly to natural hair. Take a look at these two slides in particular:
Apparently, the new regulations seek to create a uniform professional and clean-cut image across the board for both women and men. I have no qualms with that goal (in theory), but rather how it is defined. As with most definitions of “clean-cut” and “professional”, the regulations seem to specifically target Black women — those with natural hair in particular. Twists and locs are out the window. Women with short to medium length hair are allowed to wear it out — except for if the bulk of your hair protrudes more than two inches from the scalp. That automatically discounts anyone with any sort of naturally textured hair. Our hair doesn’t hang until it reaches a certain length (and even then it tends to extend far beyond two inches from our scalps) — and it most certainly doesn’t lie flat unless straightened.
Here’s what the Army Regulations say about wearing hair loose, as a point of comparison:
What about those ladies with hair that is considered “long”? Bun regulations stipulate that the bunned hair itself cannot protrude more than three inches from the scalp, and cannot be wider than the with of the wearer’s head. Again, another slight toward women with thick, dense natural hair. It should be noted that cornrows and individual braids are permitted, but there are of course, strict regulations on the size, length, and styling of these braided styles.
What I find the most interesting is that weaves and wigs are permitted. Can someone please explain the rationale behind it being okay to rock a lacefront, but not twists? And how on earth is it possible for extensions and wigs to have the same general appearance as the individual’s natural hair and conform to the AR 670–1 guidelines — when her natural hair may be unauthorized to begin with?
And lastly, before you just write me off as making a big stink about nothing, note that “most of the appearance and grooming chapter are punitive”. There are consequences for noncompliance. I’d really like to hear from the Servicewomen out there on this one — because as far as what I can see, these regulations deem natural hair as unfit for women in the Army.
To read the full article and PowerPoint presentation on Army Regulation 670–1, visit:
What do you all think? Do the new Army Regulations single out women with natural hair?