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Navy Discharges Black Sailor For Refusing to Cut Her Natural Hair

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Jessica Sims
Photo Credit: Jessica Sims

The US military recently revised grooming regulations to better accommodate female soldiers with natural hair. But sailor Jessica Sims, 32, says she’s not benefitting from the change in policy. Sims, a 12-year veteran, was recently discharged from the Navy after disobeying orders wear a wig or cut her locs — a style she has been wearing for almost a decade.

The Navy Times reports that the ex-Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class sailor received several calls informing her that her hairstyle violated set military standards and that her bun, in particular, hindered her ability to wear certain equipment like gas masks and safety helmets. Chief of Naval Personnel spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Chris Servello said Sims was discharged for disobeying a lawful order. Sims counters the claims and says  she “never had a problem wearing safety helmets or gas masks.”

“I don’t think I should be told that I have to straighten my hair in order to be within what they think the regulations are, and I don’t think I should have to cover it up with a wig,” she told The Navy Times.

The ruling comes just one week after the Defense Department announced that the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps would allow dreadlocks, two-strand twists, cornrows and multiple braids, among other styles.

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