Military Bans Twists and Other Natural Hairstyles, Say it Ain’t So!
There have been a few stories in the media that have gotten us all riled up about natural hairstyles and their acceptance in our society today. We’ve dealt with the expulsion of a Florida girl over her afro-styled hair and now this. Now, we’ve spent time perfecting the natural hairstyles and embracing our kinky curls, so it’s easy to see why this new regulation is being touted as racial bias. But is it really? The armed forces are known for their standard uniformed rules and regulations. Do we really want to assume the intent behind this?
What Natural Hairstyles is the Military Banning?
On Monday, Army Regulation 670-1 was released. This regulation includes guidelines that specifically address natural hairstyles such as cornrows, twists and braids. Among those banned natural hairstyles are dreadlocks and twists. However, dreadlocks and twists have been banned since 2005, and braids are only given stipulations such as the size and diameter of the braids.
The new regulations were approved after a focus group and a survey that was conducted with senior enlisted women. But this hasn’t stopped the comments and criticism that is flying across social media. Critics say this move is unreasonable, especially since 30 percent of women in the military are non-white.
The Natural Hairstyle Debate Begins
As you all know, I’m all for unique and lovely natural hairstyles, but in all fairness, I’m not sure that this move was sparked by anything remotely close to racial “tensions”. Essence magazine recently hosted a #lunchtimedebate with arguments that the ban makes sense:
@i_be_maurice @ESSENCE_Debates @IFeelPrettyInc Braids are heavy and sometimes big. Headgear wouldn’t fit over the hair #lunchtimedebate— Gwendalyne (@reneegwendalyne) April 3, 2014
According to the Army, these new rules are necessary to maintain uniformity within the military. This includes the issue with headgear, which is expected to fit snugly without discomfort and distortion.
On the other hand, the move created reason for a White House Petition that has collected over 10,000 signatures. The petition requests that the Army re-consider the ban of specific natural hairstyles, while also outlining the need for neat and maintained natural hairstyles.
Natural Hair Sisters are Making Too Big of a Deal About the Natural Hairstyle Debate
Natural hair and the natural hairstyles that come with it are a beautiful thing to embrace, however, as a woman who spent time in the Marine Corps, I guess I understand, especially when it comes to headgear. I’m thinking that the move is geared more towards maintaining styles that will be comfortable with the uniform requirements.
Here’s the bottom line, if this is the military’s true reason for regulating certain hairstyles, because they interfere with uniform requirements, I’m all for it. And we have to take into consideration that there are other hairstyles that the military does not allow, regardless of whether your hair is straight or not. Natural hairstyles are a beautiful thing, but if they are limited for practical reason, I don’t think there’s an issue.