The Department of Defense has made changes to their controversial Army Regulation 670-1, "Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia," policy released last April.
The original policy was accused of being discriminatory toward women of color due to its banning of hairstyles such as two-strand twists, locs and braids larger than 1/4-inch in diameter. As a result, many called for the policy to be changed, most notably female members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel demanding revisions.
Hagel released a statement Tuesday responding to the group's letter, saying: "Over the last three months, 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 forming regulations.
The Army’s policy now includes natural hairstyles like two-strand twists and has increased sizing requirements for braids, cornrows and twists to be more accommodating to various hair textures.
Hagel also noted that the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps either have already or will soon make changes to their respective hair policies.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee, one of the leaders who penned the initial letter to Hagel, praised him for allowing natural hairstyles for women of color. “African-American women make up more than 30 percent of enlisted women," she said. "They, like all servicemen and women, deserve policies that are respectful and inclusive…natural hairstyles do not reflect or create a lack of professionalism or respect for the Armed Forces’ high standards.”
In addition, Lee plans to continue to work with Hagel to ensure Black women in the service are treated fairly.