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Army plans to unveil more inclusive hair and grooming regulations next month: report

Army plans to unveil more inclusive hair and grooming regulations next month: report
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The Army is planning to alter its hair and grooming regulations in an attempt to be more inclusive, Task & Purpose reported on Tuesday.

The changes, which are expected to be announced in January, include allowing some women to wear ponytails while in uniform and cutting words from the existing regulations that are viewed as offensive or racist to “reflect the Army values and the Army’s commitment to diversity and inclusion,” according to recommendation slides obtained by the news outlet.

The alterations stem from recommendations made earlier this month to a panel made up of Army leaders across the service, the majority of whom were women, an Army official told Task & Purpose.

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The panel voted on the recommendations, which are expected to be delivered to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthyRyan McCarthyTrump appointee endorses Christine Wormuth as Army secretary Overnight Defense: Former Navy secretary reportedly spent .4M on travel | Ex-Pentagon chief Miller to testify on Jan. 6 Capitol attack | Austin to deliver West Point commencement speech Trump's Navy secretary spent over M on travel during pandemic: report MORE and Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville for final approval.

The recommendations come after then-Secretary of Defense Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Former Navy secretary reportedly spent .4M on travel | Ex-Pentagon chief Miller to testify on Jan. 6 Capitol attack | Austin to deliver West Point commencement speech Trump's Navy secretary spent over M on travel during pandemic: report Court declines to dismiss Amazon challenge against JEDI decision MORE in July ordered a review of whether current grooming standards are racially biased, part of a directive aimed at stamping out racial discrimination within the military.

While grooming regulations are meant to reinforce uniformity, many women of color have complained that the strict rules don’t allow for braids or other hairstyles that are easier for those with different textures and hair lengths.

The current regulations stipulate that women’s hairstyles can fall into only three length categories: short, medium and long, with medium-long hair required to be in a bun.

The new recommendations point out that “frequent use of tight buns or ponytails” could cause hair loss among Black women and recognize that some women “are unable to create a bun due to the length and/or texture of their hair.”

Other services in years past have altered hair rules for female service members, including the Navy, which in 2018 said sailors could wear ponytails and styled buns while in uniform.

That came after the Pentagon in 2014 announced it would review hairstyle regulations for Black women after members of the Congressional Black Caucus complained that the Army rules on soldiers’ appearances, including female hairstyles, unfairly singled out Black women.