US Army Announces More Inclusive Dress Code, Removes Offensive Language

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This week, United States Army leaders announced a new set of appearance standards that offer soldiers more flexibility with makeup, hairstyles, and jewelry. 

Beginning on February 25, female soldiers will be allowed to wear “non-extreme” lipstick and nail colors, earrings, and have the option of wearing multiple hairstyles, including highlights and ponytails “as long as it maintains a neat and professional appearance” and “doesn’t impede the use of headgear or other equipment,” according to the Army News Service.

Additionally, there will be no minimum hair-length requirement for women and male soldiers will be allowed to wear clear nail polish.

Under the current grooming requirements, soldiers are allowed to have braids, twists, locs, and cornrows, but there are restrictions on the size and spacing of those hairstyles. The new policy lifts the hairstyle dimension constraints.

“Our identity is important,” Sgt. Maj. Brian Sanders, senior enlisted leader of Army G-1’s uniform policy branch, said in a press release. “If we care about people first and the [s]oldier as a whole, we have to care about the many aspects to who they are as well. This is a small, but significant change that positively impacts a considerable size of our force.”

In addition to the grooming policies, the Army also announced the removal of words such as “Mohawk, Fu Manchu, dreadlock, eccentric, and faddish,” calling the phrases “potentially offensive and weaponized.”

“This is how we shift the culture and embrace forward thinking,” Sanders said. “It is time to dig deeper and use our lexicon and vocabulary to describe what is authorized and what does not conform to a professional military appearance, good order and discipline.”

The appearance updates include the following:

  • 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

A panel of Army soldiers participated in a discussion on Tuesday about the grooming policy revision process that can be viewed here.