The Army has combed out new grooming policies for its forces.
A panel of 17 Soldiers, consisting of 15 women and two men from all components, including all ranks, units, ages, cultural backgrounds, career fields and races, developed a list of proposed grooming and appearance modifications. Two Army dermatologists, an Army psychologist, and an Army equal opportunity adviser also contributed to the process.
The updates, effective Feb. 25, directly support the Army’s diversity and inclusion efforts. Army G-1 sponsored a virtual town hall in January to discuss the changes and answer questions.
“This isn’t about male and female,” Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston, who participated in the town hall, said. “This is about an Army standard and how we move forward with the Army – being a more diverse, inclusive team. We take recommendations from our Soldiers and then we move forward with those recommendations.”
Grinston said he was excited about the new standards, although he recognized that some might not be on board with all the new guidelines, noting that “some people really embrace change, some people don’t.” He reiterated the importance of the Army being responsive to Soldier needs.
Changes will include:
• No minimum hair length for female Soldiers
• Multiple hairstyles to be worn at once (i.e. braiding twists or locs)
• Ponytails for Soldiers unable to form a bun
• Highlights (uniform blend of colors)
• Optional wear of earrings in the Army Combat Uniform for female Soldiers
• Solid lip and nail colors (non-extreme) for female Soldiers
• Clear nail polish for male Soldiers
“I use the analogy, ‘If you look good, you feel good – and if you feel good, you perform (well),’” Sgt. Maj. Brian Sanders, senior enlisted leader of Army G-1’s uniform policy branch, told Army News Service about the changes. But aesthetics was only part of the equation considered. The change to a medium-length ponytail instead of bun could lower a Soldier’s risk of hair loss, reduce scarring, or decrease the occurrence of migraine headaches, according to the dermatologists. In addition, allowing clear nail polish for male Soldiers protects their nails from tools or harsh chemicals they come into contact with while performing job duties.
The new standards will also remove potentially offensive language used to describe hairstyles, such as “Mohawk, Fu Manchu, dreadlock, eccentric, and faddish,” replacing it with culturally appropriate terminology.
The uniform and grooming changes will be included in the next update to Army Regulation 670-1. The updated standard will also include a link to new images and videos providing examples of the new grooming and appearance standards.