WASHINGTON — Thousands of soldiers and others have signed a White House petition calling for the president to order the Army to reconsider just-released appearance and grooming regulations they contend are “racially biased” against black women.
The update to the Army regulation was published Monday , and among the rules are clarifications for Army-appropriate hairstyles. For example, the Army does not allow twists or multiple braids that are bigger than a quarter of an inch in diameter. The reg also bans dreadlocks of any style, and cornrows must be uniform and no bigger than a quarter of an inch.
Twists and dreadlocks have been prohibited since 2005, but the regulation at the time did not clearly define the specific hairstyles, Army spokesman Paul Prince said.
The new rule clearly defines the different hairstyles and gives soldiers specific guidance on what’s allowed, he said. Leadership training released in mid-March, published before the reg was official,includes photos of a number of unauthorized hairstyles , several of which are popular among black women.
“I’ve been in the military six years, I’ve had my hair natural four years, and it’s never been out of regulation. It’s never interfered with my head gear,” said Sgt. Jasmine Jacobs, of the Georgia National Guard, who wears her hair in two twists.
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