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Army allowing female soldiers to wear ponytails with all uniforms

Army allowing female soldiers to wear ponytails with all uniforms
© John Bazemore/Associated Press

Female soldiers in the Army will now be allowed to wear ponytails with all uniforms.

The service announced in a statement on Thursday that women will be permitted to wear a ponytail, as well as braids and buns, “in all authorized U.S. Army uniforms.”

The hair must be “neatly and inconspicuously fastened” and down the center of the back, and the ponytail cannot extend past the bottom of the soldiers’ shoulder blades while at the position of attention.

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The only exception for the length of a ponytail or braid, according to the Army, is while conducting tactical or physical training. The service said the soldier’s hair should not hinder her “performance or present a safety risk.”

“Commanders will analyze the risk of a free hanging ponytail or braid and use commander’s discretion to determine if long hair will be secured or tucked inside the uniform top,” Sgt. Maj. Brian C. Sanders of the Army's G-1 Uniform Policy Branch said in a statement.

There is no a minimum length requirement for ponytails or braids.

According to Task & Purpose, the new policy will go into effect immediately after the official guidance is published, which is expected to happen later Thursday.

“This new modification is more practical for our female Soldiers. It allows them flexibility in a tactical environment, while maintaining a professional appearance in garrison,” Sanders said.

“This change also helps to alleviate hair loss and damage to the scalp,” he added.

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The shift in the grooming policy is an expansion from an Army change implemented in February that allowed female soldiers to wear ponytails during physical fitness training, tactical training and situations where they are required to wear a helmet, as they can tuck it into the back of their Army uniform.

The February guidance also allowed women to wear gold, silver and diamond earrings with their Army Combat Uniform. And they were authorized to wear “professional” lipstick and nail polish, meaning no loud colors.

The review panel convened in February did not vote to allow ponytails in all uniforms, according to Task & Purpose. Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston said, however, that the panel asked in March if the decision could be reconsidered after hearing from soldiers.