WASHINGTON (KDKA) – The U.S. Army has added diversity, inclusion and equity to its formation.
“The Army must continue to put people first by fostering a culture of trust that accepts the experiences and backgrounds of every Soldier and civilian,” said Lt. Gen. Gary Brito, Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel. “Our diverse workforce is a competitive advantage, and the Army must continue to offer fair treatment, access and opportunity across the force.”READ MORE: Anti-Violence Organizations In Pittsburgh React To New Law Enforcement Initiatives
On Tuesday, the Army announced some major changes to its grooming standards.
Under the new regulations, female soldiers will no longer have a hair length requirement. Styles like braids, locks and twists will now be allowed. And those unable to slick their hair into a bun based on length or texture can sport a ponytail.
“In an effort to stop hair damage and loss stemming from hairstyles like the bun, the Army approved healthier hairstyle options that are more inclusive of various natural styles,” said Sgt. Maj. Mark Anthony Clark from the Army’s Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel (G-1).
This is a significant advancement for women of color, including Cpt. Candyace Laster, a Pittsburgh U.S. Army Recruiter who for the past 13 years has undergone an extensive routine to get her textured hair to mold into the meticulously-crafted military bun that sits low on her neck above her collar.
“We would find our soldiers forced to add chemicals to their hair, potentially perm their hair or add weave into their hair if that’s not what they wanted just to be long enough or straight enough to fit into that hairstyle,” said Laster.
Laster told KDKA she is no stranger to hair damage due to the bun.READ MORE: UPMC Doctors Trying To Raise Awareness About Benefits Of Naps For First Responders
“I would have tension headaches. I was getting hair loss around my hairline from that constant pull. Sometimes when you turn your head left or right you can feel it pulling,” she said.
The changes also authorize natural-colored highlights, lipstick and nail color.
Earrings will also be permitted outside field or combat environments.
The new regulations also scrap culturally offensive language used to describe hairstyles like “mohawk” and “eccentric.”
The Army also updated its policy on breastfeeding.
And for the fellas, beards are not authorized yet. But they can rock a couple coats of clear nail polish if they choose.MORE NEWS: Steelers Will Not Hold Training Camp At Saint Vincent College This Year
These changes go into effect on February 24.