Earlier this month, the Marines announced that women in their service are now allowed to wear locks and twists hairstyles. The changes came after allegations of racial insensitive hairstyle regulations in all branches of the military were made. Staff Sgt. Cherie Wright and other soldiers and members of congress believed that the hairstyle regulations were not only racist, but targeted black women.
After more than a year of policy review, the Marine Corps is the first U.S. military to modify their uniform policy and allow the hairstyles. Staff Sgt. Wright told Marine officials that “for some, this change is culturally liberating, has financial benefits, and is simply convenient.”
The updated policy includes how the locks, twists and braids must be worn, down to their size, spacing and length. Individual braids, twists, and locks can be no more than 3/8-inch apart, cannot be more than 3/8-inch in diameter, and must remain tightly interlaced/twisted. There are also guidelines for new growth.
The mixing of hairstyles are not allowed, with the exception of bangs, and faddish hairstyles that have designs cut in the hair or spikes, and conspicuous hair accessories are still banned. A page is currently being created on the Marine Corps Uniform Board website to identify and illustrate authorized and unauthorized hairstyles.
While the specifications may seem a bit extreme, this is still great progress. I remember when I was in the U.S. Army, we were not even allowed to wear braids unless it was two braids going back. Kudos to Staff Sgt. Wright for helping to push this much needed change through.