Look Sharp, Ladies! Army Introduces New, Female-fitting Uniforms

by Melanie Mignucci

The U.S. Military has begun issuing Army Combat Uniforms (ACUs) specifically tailored for the female form … finally.

Owing to a growing proportion of female soldiers in the military, these new uniforms are meant to increase professionalism, improve fit and comfort and decrease the restriction of movement that came from covering ladies with the standard, ‘burly-dude’ fit uniform.

The original ACU was built “by males for males,” states a recent article on the Army’s website. The ACU-As (or, Army Combat Uniform – Alternate) will accommodate a greater diversity of builds and will be available for both men and women seeking a trimmer, more tailored fit. The new uniforms feature narrowed shoulders, an elastic waistband to replace a drawstring pull, a wider fit in the hips, waist and butt, and additional sizes to choose from.

This graphic shows the proposed changes to the ACU – is camo back in yet?

This uniform change follows a new design of eyeglass frame, introduced in 2006, to serve as an alternative to the standard “birth-control glasses.” So, that’s a step.

These changes serve not only to make female soldiers feel more “professional,” but also to integrate women in the armed forces. Equity in the army is important beyond the general, “hey, we’re really all the same here,” principle. The Pentagon reports an astounding rate of 19,000 sexual assaults annually, according to this article at MedicalDaily.com. Most of these attacks, as you sadly can imagine, are perpetrated against women in the military. Women make up 10% of all armed forces and one out of six Army soldiers.

Obviously, more steps to address this issue need to be taken, and a better-fitting combat uniform is only the ice cream scoop compared to the pie, but the Army deserves to be lauded for its efforts to include women in the military. In 2013, the ban against women’s serving in combat roles, enacted in 1994, was lifted, and in 2014 the Army plans to open engineering and other occupational specialties to women. Women just this year gained the right to hold 14,000 new positions that were previously restricted to men, and by 2016 may be able to serve in as many as 237,000 positions.

Though this measure seems to some to come too late, a better fit (as we all can relate) can go a long way towards making ladies (and slimmer guys!) feel a little more comfortable in their skin.

Now that’s fashion-forward thinking.

Thanks to Glamour.com and MedicalDaily.com  for original reporting, and Army.mil for photos.

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