Response to Why Do Black Women Have to Look Like White Women to Serve Their Country


A few days ago, I read an article on the huffington post titled “Why Do Black Women Have to Look Like White Women to Serve Their Country?”, this article was a response to the new Army Regulations on hair. I shared the image above and the lin to the article on my FB fan page and encouraged all the women to read it. A day later, when scrolling through my FB wall I noticed a ton of comments.

If you haven’t, read the article.

These were some of the responses from the curl friends on my FB fan page.

Crystal Dee Dee Chapman I respect everyone’s opinion but please look at the real issue here. As a military member I conformed for 14 years. I relaxed by hair to fit into military standards. The underlying issue is not that women want to look like they’re fashion models or that they want to be glamorous in deployed locations. It is about the dress in appearance guidelines discriminating against women of color who want to wear their hair in the way God made it. This includes fades. Answer this, if my hat fits and my hair does not touch my collar what is the real issue? The issue is the texture of my hair.

Heather Harris If you join the military and all you can think about is your hair, you have NO business joining

Crystal Dee Dee Chapman Heather, I respect your view. For some of us in the military we joined and then the rules changed. Within the last 3 years more and more African American hairstyles are banned. The cartoon is exaggerated but there is truth to it. The only way many of us fit in is by wearing our hair straight at all times.

Tayo Akinsipe As a veteran, I agree with Crystal Dee Dee Chapman . This is not about “all you can think about is your hair”. Its about, why should we have to think about all the efforts it goes into making sure our (black women) hair meets into the white men standard. We should not be subjected to forced relaxer of our hair to meet all these standards. I didn’t like it when I was in and I don’t like all these new discriminatory rules. These rules only will make black women have to think more about what to do with their hair to conform to these rules.

Tonya Taylor If I join the military and all the military can think about is my GOD GIVEN NATURAL HAIR, then it is they who have no business recruiting ME. If we black women aren’t allowed the same rights as women of other races to wear our hair in its natural state or in protective styles then the military shouldn’t recruit us! Out here dying for this damn country and can’t even be free to embrace our natural hair?! That is bullshit.

Amen’Ra Shakur I still cnt figure out y blacks choose to join an establishment tht promotes white supremacy/racism/terrorism globally, but yet complain whn thr wronged w/in tht same institution…O_o

Shay Bostic Why make this a black vs white thing. White, Hispanic, Latin and what ever other ethnicity serve in the arm forces and some of them have thick, kinky hair. They also enjoy wearing braids and twist. The men have a standard to keep. No one said black women had to relax or straighten their hair, just follow the standards set. Policy can be changed without making it a racial issue. The issue is some may want to wear a certain style but it’s not allowed. Other ethnic groups have to follow the same standards and like I said some of them have thick and kinky big hair too. I’m with changing the policy if possible but I’m not with making this a black vs white issue.

Arnetta K. Gilmore It is a racial issue. The other races don’t have the same textures as we do. They can wear streaks and mess buns and no one will bat an eye. I wear two strands twist that actually makes wearing my cover “hat” easier. It’s an issue. doesn’t matter that my hair is neat. Doesn’t matter that my cover fits easier. Its an issue because it’s twist. If you haven’t served, I wouldn’t be so quick to judge.

De-Sean Satcher This is all based on the media. The idea of a black woman with her own texture of hair makes people think that it’s unprofessional and “ghetto.” Black women are the target of this regulation because the perception of what others will think of the military is what they are trying to save. It will give off the idea that the military lets anybody in, and that they have no standards. Therefore, they implement these standards to make women of color or with “kinky” textures of hair conform to the more “non hostile” hair styles. That’s why white women only have to put their hair in a bun so it doesn’t exceed their neck or ear lobes.

Ebony Leverett The issue here that many are choosing to overlook is that the military is not a “regular” job. When you raise your right hand you are ASKED if you are willing to defend your country. You are ASKED if you will defend the constitution, etc. You are not forced into enlistment. However, you are also informed of the fact that you no longer have rights. You are the property of the United States government. With that, you choose your route. While many things are prejudice and I too was initially outraged at the changes to AR 670-1, I realized the reg. is not against natural hair per se. If you really think about it (especially those who have never worn military head gear), natural hair for us grows outward, not downward, which makes it naturally “puffy.”This even causes issues wearing civilian head gear. At any rate, two strand twists tend to “puff” more than a 3 strand braid, hence improper fit of head gear. In combat, many will not be concerned with their natural hair but with their lives. Why place your buddy in a situation where you may have to be saved because you refuse to fit your head gear properly? Just like nail polish colors and collar length hair were issues, female soldiers (including myself) still found a way to wear it. It’s called weekends. Noone is saying perm your hair, but wear it to uniform standard Mon-Fri and rock your puffs and fros, etc on the weekends. There are plenty of natural hairstyles to accommodate this. If you’re that unhappy with the new reg, it may be time for a career change.

Angela Williams When I was in the military, White women wore two giant cornrows(part down the middle w/one cornrow on each side of the head) or two braids in the front & one in the back(two front braids, one each side pulled back & incorporated into a single braid at the back of the head) that exceeded the 1/4inch rule, but NOW all of a sudden it’s a problem?!! Rules appear to be targeting Black women with natural textured hair. As long as their twist/braids/loc’s are neat, off-the-shoulder, & pinned up as to not interfere with headgear/caps/hats I don’t see what the big problem is!!

KS Loyd-Brown I am a black woman serving in the military. The new regulation is not about race. It’s about standards. The regulation will come effective 30 April. We have more issues than hair to worry about. Let’s do a petition to bring all our soldiers home or speed up the VA process of veteran getting help after they return from war. It really upset me that the people on the outside just take actions and run and talk but don’t know what their fighting for. Draids and up kept hair was never been authorized in the Army. It’s just many people was afraid to make correction. We wear kelvar and gas mask. Just think if a soldier had to wear this to save their lives, will it fit. I’m not trying to be insensitive about the issue, but if you can’t go by the standards then you should exit. The Army is not about fashion it about sacrifice and saving lives.

Modatchari Bitata Sopale Why do you want to serve a country that doesnt respect the way u look, the way God had made u, which is BEAUTIFUL… is clear that black people still at the bottom of the ladder even thought they willing to put their lifes on the line 4 a country that values them NOT…. Respect 2 all of u.

Shelia Bifford First we must embrace our own hair before we expect others to embrace it. There are a lot of us who are ashamed, embarrassed or wish they had “other hair type” We need to accept our nappy, kinky, curly hair and love it!

Read more of the comments here

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.
  • makemelaugh2x

    I said it once and I’ll say it again, the only hairstyle that I see women of other races in the military wear are a bun or a cut. You can put natural hair in a bun, it just takes more care. If you don’t like it, cut it. If you won’t cut it, leave the military.

    • queenbee9

      I have BSL hair. When it goes into a bun or knot, i can almost guarantee it will not fit under a hat or helmet. Too thick–so I guess what you are saying is that they can grow it long and wear a bun (but not too long) or they can cut it and wear it shorter so then when whites and other races continue to think and say ” black women can’t grow hair or black women look just like men” the black women in the military will help to serve both their country and that self fulfilling pronouncment?

      The thing about racism is that while much is still covert and subtle it is still there, the point is not the wearing of a hat so that the enemy can’t see a soldier as easily–that is bs, the enemy if they are firing already know locations and vicinity of troops but people swallow that–the point is (as usual) to put black women in their place which must be beneath all other race of women–they no longer have to put black men in their place–they found a way to “tame and control them” through their libidos but we remain the last true rebels and nothing says non conformity to a standard and “different” like a black woman’s hair.

      I was at the airport recently and received a lot of stares–NOT from brothers with white women, they always try to look around or to the side of black women as if by studiously avoiding eye contact or looking, we no longer exist. NOT from white men who for the most part , looked at me then tried to pretend they did not. NOT from sistahs who acknowledged my hair , and smiled or nodded then went about their business–I got almost 85% of my staring by white women, who seemed unable to look away and from a few blacks or foreign women with straight weave or relaxed or naturally straight hair.

      Still causes a storm–note to white people–straightening our hair will never straighten us out. It is an outside bending by some–never the inside. Too bad some black girls don’t know the game and so not only stay plugged in, but still try to defend that game and to play it.

      I come from a military family. My dad was career, 1 brother and both my sisters served… got 2 kids in now and numerous cousins in.. When choosing the military, choose the Air Force–they tend to be a bit more lenient and if the regulations are to ensure safety of the troops,

      please explain (since we have had war arenas for the past 11 years )WHEN someone’s hair resulted in casualties of war.

      this is racism maybe next will come nose gear and those with too wide bridges need not apply? The military is about conformity but it should not be in appearance but in demeanor, not in natural attributes but in clothing and decorum. If they want true conformity time to bring out the robots and dispense with people altogether. What do whites and hispanics with unruly hair do? Put it in a bun? or cut it all off? Or cornrow it?

      Just one example–please.

      • BlueCornMoon

        Good post ! This country has been at war with black women’s hair since they brought us here & it seems that since Obama got elected TWICE, all these racists are crawling out of the sewers, scared to death because the demographics of the country are changing. I worked at an inner city school with a lot of immigrant kids from Spanish countries, India, Africa, Asia They’ve got to pick on someone : not the Muslims, not the Hispanics, not the Asians, not black men, AHA ! BLACK WOMEN’S HAIR !! LET’S CHANGE THOSE RULES! THEY LOOK TO GHETTO ! As for the black who were supposedly on the hair rules changing panel, don’t be surprised if they went along with it. When i was a kid during the Martin Luther King Civil Rights years there were blacks against the movement & King, and King himself was stabbed in the chest BY A DEMENTED BLACK WOMAN in the late 50s. You can always find blacks willing to sink their own people

  • Girldeedee

    I’m assuming the biggest issue here is from naturals whose hair hasn’t grown to bun length and not being in a position to stop relaxing and go natural at this point. This is the military and it is what it is. There are plenty of things you can’t do while enlisted but I can understand why one more thing on the list is a sore spot.

    Be creative and figure out a way around it so that you can rock your natural in spite of new regulations because the military can’t force you (wait yes they can), they aren’t saying you must relax so get creative and be fly anyway.

  • jewelsade

    God bless the White Race, most are gonna need it. Racism and stupidity will destroy the White race. To much time spend on home grown Bulls++t!. Stop doing what you don’t want to be done to you. Please Stop it!

  • kik

    What I don’t understand is why black people are defending a country that doesn’t like black people, doesn’t have their interest at heart and just still thinks as black people as Subhuman? Why? Seriously.
    The USA doesn’t give a damn about black people, why defend such a country? Sigh.