Change Discriminatory Army Hairstyle Restrictions

women soldiers

Target: US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel

Goal: Amend new Army appearance regulations that discriminate against women of color

The US Army just released an updated set of regulations for appearance and grooming for all Army soldiers, generally intended to promote a consistent, uniform appearance among personnel. However, this revision to Army Regulation 670-1 has many upset about the lack of consideration for different hair textures in increasingly stringent hairstyle requirements; this bias against people of color is apparent in the expansion of the list of unauthorized hairstyles to include many of those worn by women of color with natural hair. Among the ranks of banned styles are all dreadlocks, twists, and any cornrows or braids larger than a quarter of an inch in diameter.

The language of the revision suggests that these hairstyles generally do not “present a neat, professional, well-groomed appearance,” but many women of color who serve in the armed forces successfully embrace these styles as a professional way of securing their natural hair. The authorized hairstyles — buns, braids, and cropped cuts that extend no farther than two inches from the scalp — are not conducive to the thick, curly texture of natural hair, which is difficult to pull back due to sheer volume and tendencies to knot. These regulations severely limit women of color who want to wear their natural hair to either small cornrows or braids that start at the front of the scalp, both of which are extremely time consuming and virtually impossible for women to accomplish without the help of another person.

By signing this petition, you are urging Secretary Hagel to call on the Army to remove discriminatory requirements from Army Regulation 670-1. You are calling on him to remind the Army of its responsibility to refrain from exclusion and discrimination.


Dear Secretary Hagel,

You have probably heard of the recent revision of Army Regulation 670-1, including a number of updates to codes of appearance and grooming. You may not know why some of the new regulations discriminate against women of color. Provisions banning dreadlocks, twists, and cornrows or braids larger than a quarter inch in diameter remove all convenient and easy methods for women of color to secure their natural hair. The language of these regulations is also discriminatory, implying that these styles, mostly worn by people of color, generally do not “present a neat, professional, well-groomed appearance.”

I urge you to remind the Army of its responsibility to refrain from excluding and discriminating against any American citizens. I urge you to call on the Army to strike the biased hairstyle restrictions from Army Regulation 670-1, and to take into consideration all hair textures in their next revision of these regulations.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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One Comment

  1. Karen Davis says:

    “Women of color as long as we are on this earth we are moving forward! We are not going to be set back it doesn’t matter who wrote rewrote these army unauthorized hair styles. Because I find it detailed, direct, and discriminatory. And it should be changed so that as a female soldier’s hair is neat and above the collar she is in regulation. Not is she wears dreadlocks or twists (women of color). And if we go over seas to Iraq they can not be worn please we are USA WOMEN SOLDIERS and we are here and are going to stay here to serve our country just like we are trained to do!


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