The United States Navy is modifying its rules governing acceptable hairstyles as part of an effort to make the military body “more inclusive,” Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson announced during a Facebook Live session on Tuesday. Appearing alongside Richardson during the announcement were six African-American women sailors, who represented the working group that helped recommend the new hairstyling guidelines. Under the new rules, women will be allowed to wear their hair long such a way that it will be allowed to reach below the lower edge of the collar of a blouse, jacket, or coat in dinner dress uniforms. And all sailors will now be allowed to sport ponytails, single braids, French braids, and dreadlocks so long as they “maintain a neat and professional appearance” and do not inhibit them from wearing uniform headgear or safety equipment.
The Navy has been undergoing a significant makeover in recent years following the introduction of women into armed combat roles in the military in 2015. Following the change, even the elite Navy SEALS were forced to open their ranks to women — but kept their famously stringent physical fitness and strength requirements in place. The Navy had also previously altered its hair policy in 2014 to afford more options to minority women, as well as issuing photo guidance about which hairstyles were permitted in women with short and long hair. In late 2015, the Marine Corps became the first branch of the U.S. military to allow women to lock and twist their hair.
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