In the name of inclusivity, the U.S. Army recently updated their grooming standards to allow women to wear ponytails, earrings, lipstick, and nail polish while in combat uniform.
Previously earrings could only be worn in service or dress uniform, and the bun was the standard acceptable hairstyle. The revisions expand earring-wear (gold, silver, and diamond) to the combat uniform, except when “in a field environment, or tactical training, or when combat deployments are being done.”
Regarding hair, the new changes include removing the minimum hair length, as well as approving natural colored highlights and hairstyles like braids, locs, and ponytails.
Natural colored highlights and nail polish are also allowed now.
“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.
The long ponytail style also improves functionality and range of motion when wearing combat gear.
“What I have heard from female soldiers who have tried this already is it does allow the functionality, it gives a better range of motion when they’re swiveling their head, conducting operations, and that’s what we want,” said Sgt. Maj. Brian Sanders, the Army uniform policy branch sergeant major.
The changes were made to further the Army’s “People First” priority, as well as its diversity and inclusion efforts.
“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.”
“One thing we can never forget is that at the end of the day, our women are mothers, are spouses, are sisters — they definitely want to be able to maintain their identity, and that’s what we want to get after,” said Sanders.
The new grooming standards will go into effect on February 24.