Two days ago, the Army revised its grooming regulations to prohibit hairstyles specific to black women; although dreadlocks and twists have been disallowed since 2005, these new rules are shockingly strict, banning the growth of natural hair from exceeding 2 inches and braids from being wider than one quarter inch.
Black women make up a whopping one third of females in the military, explains the Georgia National Guard member Sgt. Jasmine Jacobs, who has served for 6 years; in protest of the prejudicial regulations, she wrote this petition. Jacobs has worn her natural for 4 years, reporting that she has never broken regulation and has always maintained a professional appearance. She writes, “These new changes are racially biased and the lack of regard for ethnic hair is apparent. “
As our society shifts to embrace natural hairstyles and abandon the (often racially motivated) pressures to use chemical hair treatments, these grooming rules are disappointing. Most women in the military don’t have access to hair relaxers and straighteners; therefore, the practical burden of these rules fall only to black women, “offer[ing] little to no options for females with natural hair.” With so many women and people of color serving in our armed forces, it’s about time we stop letting prejudice inform regulatory decision.
Thanks to Think Progress
Images via Think Progress