LANHAM, Md. (WNEW) — Women from the Congressional Black Caucus have joined the fight against the U.S. Army’s new grooming standards.
The regulations went into effect March 31 and have been criticized by people, soldiers and civilians alike, who have called them racially biased.
A We The People petition on WhiteHouse.gov, created March 20, has more than 17,000 signatures.
It says “the lack of regard for ethnic hair is apparent” and that the new policy should be revised to “allow for neat and maintained natural hairstyles.”
A letter signed by the Women of the Congressional Black Caucus sent to U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel April 10 asserts that “African American women have often been required to meet unreasonable norms as it relates to acceptable standards of grooming in the workplace.”
“Army officials have responded to criticism of the regulation by saying it applies to all soldier regardless of race, and that they are meant to protect their safety,” it goes on to say. “However the use of words like ‘unkempt’ and ‘matted’ when referring to traditional hairstyles worn by women of color are offensive and biased… We strongly encourage you to reconsider the updated regulation…”
The newly unauthorized hairstyles include twists and dreadlocks, and mandate that hair cannot exceed more than two inches from the scalp.
“Wearing of the uniform, as well as our overall military appearance, should be a matter of personal pride for all Soldiers,” Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III wrote on his Facebook page on the day the new regulations were formally published.
In response to his post, several people commented that the new rules limit the options for some women.
You can see a PDF document of the new regulations here.