The announcement came this week in a Facebook Live video.
The U.S. Navy is marching toward inclusion of all hair styles.
Navy servicewomen will finally be able to wear their hair in dreadlocks, ponytails and wider hair buns, according to a Facebook Live announcement earlier this week. The styles are “subject to limitations where operational hazards present safety concerns,” added Yeoman First Class LaToya Jones, who delivered the news.
The policy change, announced on Tuesday and reportedly implemented Wednesday, came after a recommendation from a working group of a half-dozen female sailors and feedback from their peers. Several black women had asked the Navy to change its grooming standards, the Associated Press reports. (Working group member Capt. Thurraya Kent, for example, told the AP this had been an issue for her throughout her 26 years of Navy service.)
RECORDED EARLIER: Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson and Chief of Naval Personnel Adm. Robert Burke will host another Facebook Live All-Hands Call and are looking forward to taking your questions about uniforms, PCS moves and any other personnel matter that's on your mind. Let them know how they can continue to make you a more efficient and a more lethal warfighter. Please Join them Tuesday, July 10th at 1700 EDT and you can start posting your questions in the comments below. They will address as many as they can in 30 minutes.
Posted by U.S. Navy on Tuesday, July 10, 2018
The working group made a case that such a change would boost inclusivity of hair textures, allow people to keep their natural hair instead of opting for chemical treatments, and get rid of a distraction, according to the AP.
Lifting the ban will help make the Navy make “more operationally effective, more competitive (and) more lethal,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said in the video, but also “much more inclusive.”
Working group member Petty Officer 1st Class Jacqualynn Leak, who has worn her hair in dreadlocks for the past four years, told HuffPost she had surveyed female sailors and conducted extensive research on cultural and health considerations around dreadlocks. She “wanted to make an argument so compelling that every reason my chain of command could give me for why dreadlocks were banned could easily be rebutted with facts,” she told the outlet.
“I am not my hair, but in a way, I am,” Leak added. “This change is another way for me to represent who I am and feel like the Navy embraces it. It sends a message to sailors that we’re seen and valued for everything we are, including our service.”
The U.S. Army, Air Force and Marines had already changed their policies in recent years to allow women to wear dreadlocks, falling in line with an increasing push across the military and law enforcement communities for cultural and religious accommodations. The Army’s new guidelines in 2017, for example, also allowed for men and women to wear turbans, hijabs and beards for religious reasons. And the New York Police Department in late 2016 announced it would allow observant cops to wear turbans and beards.
“If you’ve got a recommendation, we just demonstrated that that recommendation can make things happen,” the Navy’s Richardson said during the announcement. “So I want to hear from you.”
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