United States military branches announced they have loosened grooming requirements that sparked controversy for allegedly targeting the natural hairstyles of African-American soldiers.
The U.S. Army on March 31 banned hairstyles including twists, dreadlocks, some types of braids, and Afros that were previously authorized. Following outcry from black members of the U.S. armed forces, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in April ordered the secretaries of all military branches to review their policies on grooming.
“As a result of these reviews the Army, Navy, and Air Force determined changes were necessary to their Service grooming regulations to include additional authorized hairstyles,” Hagel wrote in a Aug. 11 letter to Representative Marcia L. Fudge of the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday.
Following the review, the Army said it has increased the size of authorized braids, cornrows and twists, and removed spacing requirements.
Other branches also eased hairstyle restrictions, according to the letter. The Air Force authorized two-strand twists, French twists and Dutch braids. Two-strand braids and multiple braids hanging freely if above the collar and encompassing the entire head were authorized by the Navy, while the Marines said they had planned a special uniform review this summer.