LANHAM, Md. (WNEW) — U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has agreed to review the U.S. Army’s new grooming standards, which went into effect March 31 and have been called “racially biased.”
A We The People petition created on WhiteHouse.gov March 20 said “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.”
Then a letter signed by the Women of the Congressional Black Caucus, sent to Hagel April 10, asserted that “African American women have often been required to meet unreasonable norms as it relates to acceptable standards of grooming in the workplace” and strongly encouraged him to reconsider the updated regulations.
On Tuesday, CBC Chair Representative Marcia L. Fudge thanked Hagel for committing “to careful review of each Service’s language and grooming policies to ensure both are clear of offensive language and are respectful of the diversity within our Armed Forces.”
“Members of the CBC appreciate Secretary Hagel for his prompt response to our letter and for seriously considering our concerns,” Fudge went on to say. “The Secretary’s response affirms his commitment to ensuring all individuals are welcomed and can continue to be proud of serving within our Armed Forces.”
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.