In the United States, women are free to choose how they want to dress, style their hair, and present themselves physically. However, a military woman should never have to choose between her hair and her service to her country.
After many years of being prohibited from wearing their hair natural, black female soldiers in the U.S. Army can now rejoice. The Army has decided they now have the right to wear locs and dreadlocks, in addition to braids and twists.
It is a victory for black women in the military who felt targeted by the restrictions on their hair. They believed it was discriminatory and sent a message that they were not allowed to be themselves. Now with the ban lifted, they no longer have to conform to the pressure to look like anyone else. They can wear hair that enhances their ethnicity, and still be in compliance with regulations.
For some the choice to wear locs is for religious purposes, such as in the Rastafarian religion. They see wearing locs as a way to celebrate both their cultural ethnicity and their spirituality. For others, it is not necessarily a spiritual thing, but more of a matter of convenience. It is also a matter of caring for their hair.
Applying excessive heat to ethnic hair, such as with blow dryers and curling irons, can be damaging. Black military women on the job while in uniform have no time for fussing with their hair using these tools. Wearing the hair in locs, twists, or braided styles allows the freedom of wearing the hair “natural” or not chemically-processed, yet clean and well-maintained.
Although the U.S. Army has lifted the ban, there are some guidelines to be followed. This Youtube video clears up common misconceptions about ethnic hair and how it can be well maintained according to U.S. Army regulations.
Black female soldiers have won a long-standing battle. No longer are they faced with the prospect to either be the soldier with her hair cut off, or be the one who has to wear a wig, they can just be.
Is it fair for the military to tell give such strict guidelines when it comes to their appearance? Let’s discuss here or on Twitter: @lcarterwriter.