National News Desk

US Army changes standards for women to allow ponytails, nail polish, breastfeeding



(WASHINGTON) — Women in the U.S. Army can soon wear nail polish, lipstick and earrings as well as their hair in more natural hairstyles thanks to what the Army calls “major revisions” to its regulations.

In addition to relaxed grooming standards, women in the Army who are breastfeeding or pumping will also have the option to wear an undershirt.

“We are continuously assessing our policies to identify areas for improvement, then implementing policies that demonstrate our commitment to ensuring all Soldiers feel as though they are valued members of the Army team,” Lt. Gen. Gary Brito, Army deputy chief of staff for personnel, said in a statement Monday announcing the changes. “We know that actions speak louder than words when it comes to inclusivity and equity within our ranks, and we believe that the changes we announced today are one example of policies that put our people first.”

The changes, which go into effect Feb. 24, will allow for the “optional wear” of earrings, lipstick and nail colors for women and clear nail polish for men.

There will also be no minimum hair length for female soldiers, who will now be allowed to wear multiple hairstyles at once, like braids and twists, wear their hair in a ponytail and have natural-looking highlights.

“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,” Sgt. Maj. Mark Anthony Clark, of the Army’s Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, said in a statement.

The Army also noted that its revised regulation on hairstyles will “not contain potentially offensive language used to describe several hairstyles … which will be replaced with alternative verbiage.”

Women currently make up around 15% of the Army.

The Army’s new guidelines come less than one week after the U.S. Air Force also announced similar changes.

Starting next month, women in the Air Force will be allowed to wear their hair in longer braids, ponytails and bangs.

“In addition to the health concerns we have for our Airmen, not all women have the same hair type, and our hair standards should reflect our diverse force,” Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass said in a statement. “I am pleased we could make this important change for our women service members.”

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