Are The New Army Changes (AR 670-1) Discriminatory to Women with Natural Hair?

Thursday, March 19th, new army regulations as it relates to grooming and appearance were leaked online.  The leaked information included a PowerPoint, Army Regulation 670-1 leader training, with explicit details and pictures explaining the new polices.  Many of the new guidelines directly affect African American women in the Army.

Updated Female Grooming Standards include the following:

  • Clarifies unauthorized hairstyles (dreadlocks & twists)
  • Twists
    • Defined as twisting two distinct strands of hair around one another to create a rope-like appearance.
    • Although some twists may be temporary, they are still unauthorized.
    • This includes twists formed against the scalp or in a free-hanging style.
  • Dreadlocks
    • Defined as any matted or locked coils or ropes of hair (or extensions).
    • Any style of deadlock (against the scalp or free hanging) are not authorized.
    • Any unkempt of matted braids or cornrows are considered dreadlocks and are not authorized.
The PowerPoint also goes on to explain that portions of AR 670-1 and more of the appearance and grooming chapter are punitive.  Violations of the punitive sections by Soldiers may result in adverse administration and/or charges under the provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

Subsequently, on March 20th, 2014, a petition was started on whitehouse.gov to petition the Obama Administration to reconsider the changes to the AR 670-1 to allow professional ethnic hairstyles.  The petition reads as follows:

“More than 30% of females serving in the military are of a race other than white. As of 2011, 36% of females in the U.S. stated that they are natural, or refrain from chemically processing their hair. Females with natural hair take strides to style their natural hair in a professional manner when necessary; however, changes to AR 670-1 offer little to no options for females with natural hair. In the proposed changes, unauthorized hairstyles include twists, both flat twists as well as two strand twists; as well as dreadlocks, which are defined as “any matted or locked coils or ropes of hair.” These new changes are racially biased and the lack of regard for ethnic hair is apparent. This policy needs to be reviewed prior to publishing to allow for neat and maintained natural hairstyles.”

I found out about these proposed changes through a Facebook friend who currently serves in the military. I wholeheartedly support the petition.  Neat and maintained natural hair styles can be professional. By banning all twists and dreadlocks, the Army is stating they do not believe a women’s hair can be professional in this state.

I urge you to stand with me and others by signing the petition on. To sign the petition to reconsider the changes to the AR 670-1 to allow professional ethnic hairstyles click here.

How do you feel about these proposed changes to the military dress code as it relates to natural hair?

Are these new rules discriminatory or racist towards African American women?

About Jenell B Stewart

Jenell Stewart MS, the founder and editor in chief of the award winning website KinkyCurlyCoilyMe.com dedicates most of her free time educating and uplifting women with natural hair by way of her extremely popular website and YouTube channel. Jenell has been featured in Essence Magazine, Black Enterprise.com, and starred on the Dr.Oz television show as a Beauty Expert. In 2012 she was named one of Essences top Instagramers and that same year KinkyCurlyCoilyMe won an award for “Favorite Website” of the Natural Hair Community.
  • Andrea

    There is nothing wrong with flat twists. I do understand how free, loose twists with extensions would cause to much bulk then making it difficult to wear one’s headgear.

  • AlBorland

    “Bulk” of hair more than 2 inches from scalp… well, that’s offensive.

  • SamNicT

    This is ridiculous. For a millitary branch that targets minorities in particular they’re trying there hardest to whitewash them. How dare they come up with these rules. What is the purpose? Do twists and dread cause problems in war time situations? I hope women in the army with natural hair don’t take this lying down.

  • BlueCornMoon

    Absolutely racist! Funny how they like to outlaw anything that’s black. Flat twists would be perfect for military women & would allow them to keep their length. They seem to think white characteristics are natures default setting & anything else is abnormal, faddish or not entirely human! We fought this hair battle in the 60s when the afro became popular & lawsuits were filed . Here we go again!!

  • Audrey Pierce

    Hair is not what black women joined the

  • Joseph Lynch

    I don’t like the new mustache guild lines, you don’t see me starting a petition, either Wilco or get out. Black woman do take their hair to the extremes, somebody has to say enough is enough, obey the regulations or get an Article 15. Why did you join the Military? I hope it wasn’t to wear a fly hair style in uniform.

    • Msaintel

      The mustache restriction applies to all and effects all races. You are clearly missing the point. There are neat and professional appearing options for twists and dreadlocks that this regulation completely excludes. Instead of banning – all, the Army should be open to these options.

      • Joseph Lynch

        The Army doesn’t work for us, we work for the Army, just because you don’t like something doesn’t give you the right to use the race card. The Army is about uniformity, not diversity. I am so tired of hearing people whine and cry when they don’t get their way, so please, if you don’t like the new 670-1 then quit, its that easy. Otherwise, if you need the Army and it’s pay check then you better obey their regulations. If I see anyone not following these new guild lines, I promise you that I will do everything in my power to write them up. No excuses, it’s time to grow up and act like Soldiers. Hooooah!!!

        • Sista Soldier

          You clearly have no clue about natural hair.

        • Sista Soldier

          Yes we work for the Army but when making policies that effect the mass you might want some input from them. You can have many hairstyles that are uniform such as twists that do not interfere with the wear of the headgear. That’s what it should be about instead of targeting certain races.

  • http://ridad.blog.com MsReeda

    I am a member of the Air Force and the regulations in regards to how women’s hair is kept is not as stringent as the Army’s regulation. I don’t necessarily agree however ,usually when a regulation is modified it is due to an incident or several incidents where soldiers’ lives or livelihood may have impeded on the mission. http://ridad.blog.com

    • http://ridad.blog.com MsReeda

      *Impeded the mission, rather

  • FireMama_x3

    as i stated on another board. these new regs are not attacking black women. black women will still have options under these new guidelines. options are somethings that the military doesn’t even normally give ppl, so women in general should be a little more grateful. the military is a dictatorship about uniformity, period. everyone should look and be the same. black women with natural hair still have the option to braid, cornrow, wig, weave, extension braid and cut their off. just because they can’t also twist, flattwist and loc doesn’t warrant a petition. get over yourself! the military does not cater to its members. members follow instructions w/o question, period.

    • makemelaugh2x

      Exactly. Natural hair can be put into buns. It may take some extra care but it can be done. Wrap your edges at night or simply cut it off. In my opinion, braids should also be banned.

  • Lucinda

    I am a black female in the US Army and I don’t have any issue with the new updated regulation on hair styles that has since been officially published. The regulation is not just pointing out ethnic hair styles that go outside regulation but all unauthorized hair styles of all race groups. As the ppt slide show, white, and Hispanic females are also used as examples. I was able to go through the ppt slide show and I actually agree with the changes. I have been in the military now for nearly 15 years so I have seen it all when it comes to hair styles of all races. And to be honest, most of the violators that I have seen in my experience in the service have been the sistas. Know granted, we have a lot of unique hair situations (such as natural hair) that prevent easy grooming but there shouldn’t be any excuse for there are many alternatives as other who have posted here have pointed out. Any hair style that is bulky in appearance and prevents the proper wear of headgear is in direct violation and that’s the point of re-enforcing this age old regulation. And really, the proper wear of head gear is at issue here and not the fact that its an ethnic hair style.

  • ♥ท¡૮ѳℓ૯

    lets be real, SOME natural gurls are NOT naturalists who know how to take care of their hair properly and because of them the rules just apply to everyone to make sure the styles are proper for uniform.