LANHAM, Md. (WNEW) — After controversy erupted over updated U.S. military grooming standards in April, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says amendments have now been made to the Army, Air Force and Navy regulations.

The Marine Corps is still debating its policy.

The new regulations were adopted March 31, and objectors were quick to point out that they found them “racially biased.” They barred things like twists and hair growth beyond two inches from the scalp.

bulkofhair Hagel: Racially Biased Military Hair Regulations Have Been Amended

A We The People petition created on March 20 said “the lack of regard for ethnic hair is apparent” and that the 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 regulations.

The newly revised regulations, Hagel wrote in a letter Monday, will allow several hairstyles that were not authorized under the March revision.

On Tuesday, the Congressional Black Caucus a statement thanking Secretary Hagel for “his prompt attention and response to the concerns expressed by women of color serving within our Armed Forces.”

The letter also says the changes “recognize that traditional hairstyles worn by women of color are often necessary to meet our unique needs, and acknowledges that these hairstyles do not result in or reflect less professionalism or commitment.”


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