The U.S. Army has announced a new grooming policy that allows female soldiers to wear a ponytail in all of their uniforms following a Department of Defense-ordered review of its policies.
''This new modification is more practical for our female Soldiers. It allows them flexibility in a tactical environment, while maintaining a professional appearance in garrison,'' Sgt. Maj. Brian C. Sanders, Army G-1 Uniform Policy Branch, said in a statement. ''This change also helps to alleviate hair loss and damage to the scalp.''
According to the policy, ''Hair will be neatly and inconspicuously fastened or secured in either a bun, single ponytail, two braids or a single braid. Multiple locs, braids, twists or cornrows may come together in one or two braids or a single ponytail. Braids and singular ponytails may be worn down the center of the back in all uniforms, but length will not extend past the bottom of the shoulder blades while at the position of attention. There is no minimum length for the wear of a ponytail or braid.''
There is an exception to this rule during tactical or physical training, where the length of a soldier’s hair should not hinder their performance or pose a risk to their safety.
Sanders added that ''Commanders will analyze the risk of a free hanging ponytail or braid and use commander’s discretion to determine if long hair will be secured or tucked inside the uniform top.''
Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Junel Jeffrey told CNN that the policy is in effect.
Some met the news with praise on Twitter, with one user saying: "I leave the Army, and now they’re letting women be women. Congrats to the army ladies on being able to wear ponytails in uniform along with earrings and nail polish."
Another said: "So happy to see this kind of listening & adapting leadership in the Army. So happy for all my sisters still in uniform."
However, not everyone was pleased with the announcement, with some users on Twitter voicing their displeasure.
"This is how it starts!" said one. "Let standards down a little bit at a time … Sad day for America’s Army."
Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper ordered a review of the Defense Department’s policies last year in an effort to address race inequality and inclusion.
"The actions I am directing are a necessary first step, but I have no illusion that these initial actions will fully address the concerns many of us know and which I have personally heard from many Service members," Esper said last July after a meeting with the Defense Department’s Board on Diversity and Inclusion, according to CNN.
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