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The United States Army, as with all other branches of the military, has always upheld specific regulations regarding grooming for their male and female service personnel. Every so often those rules are revisited as styles and personal choices of appearance change over time.

USA Today on April 1 released a news story where African American female troops are claiming racial bias to the new grooming regulations. Their claims and voice are causing an outcry within the local ranks as well as worldwide. They are asking, through a petition to the White House, that the hairstyles undergo some reconsideration to allow more ethnic styles that are still considered professional and popular among the African American military personnel.

The Army Times reports that the new grooming regulations aren’t specific to just allowable hairstyles. The new rules also establish tougher rules regarding makeup, fingernail length, tattoos, as well as how uniforms should be worn. The rules that are being implemented for tattoos, is the section with the strictest guidelines.

Currently a petition against the hair style changes has been put in place and 6,235 signatures have already been added. In order for the petition to be recognized by the White House for consideration to overturn some of the new regulations a total of 100,000 are required. The petition defines specific guidelines regarding grooming that is being questioned and considered as unfair and racially biased. The petition that is being passed around for signatures says that; “More than 30% of females serving in the military are of a race other than white. As of 2011, 36% of females in the U.S. stated that they are natural, or refrain from chemically processing their hair. Females with natural hair take strides to style their natural hair in a professional manner when necessary; however, changes to AR 670-1 offer little to no options for females with natural hair. In the proposed changes, unauthorized hairstyles include: twists; both flat twists as well as two strand twists; as well as dreadlocks, which are defined as "any matted or locked coils or ropes of hair." These new changes are racially biased and the lack of regard for ethnic hair is apparent. This policy needs to be reviewed prior to publishing to allow for neat and maintained natural hairstyles.”

The Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia, AR 670-1 changes from the Army Times include but aren’t limited to the following:

Soldiers have seven days to adhere to the new grooming standards.Currently serving soldiers are prohibited from getting new tattoos that don't meet the criteria outlined in the new regulation.Applicants contracted for service in any Army component or enrolled in any accession program within 30 days of the release of the new AR 670-1 are grandfathered in to the previously published tattoo policy.Enlisted soldiers selected before July 1 for officer accession programs are grandfathered in to the previously published tattoo policy.Active-duty commanders must complete tattoo validation memos for all assigned soldiers within 30 days of the regulation's release. Those records must be uploaded for filing into soldiers' human resource record within 60 days.Commander of reserve component units have 120 days to complete the memos. Those records must be uploaded for filing into soldiers' records within 150 days.Soldiers who have their skill badges sewn onto their combat uniforms have seven days from the release of the regulation to make sure their name tape, Army tape and grade insignia also are sewn on.

Do you feel the new regulations are fair or bias?

Will you be joining the ranks and signing the petition that will hopefully make it to the White House for reconsideration?

Do you think it is fair that African American personnel may face non-judicial punishments if their hair style is out of regulation because of the way it naturally grows making it more difficult to obtain and maintain uniformity with the rest of the military population?

© 2014 Beverly Mucha / All Rights Reserved

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