The U.S. Army announced today that effective immediately, women in their branch of the military will be allowed to wear ponytails and long braids in uniform rather than being required to have it short or wear it in a tight bun. The decision is being praised for allowing female soldiers greater flexibility and supporting greater diversity in hair types, as tight buns can often cause issues like scalp damage, headaches, and hair loss for some individuals.

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“This new modification is more practical for our female Soldiers. It allows them flexibility in a tactical environment, while maintaining a professional appearance in garrison,” said Sgt. Maj. Brian C. Sanders. “This change also helps to alleviate hair loss and damage to the scalp.”

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The Army statement also includes an example of a Black woman sporting natural Black hair and explicitly states that the new policy is meant to provide soldiers with options “that are more inclusive of various natural styles.”

This is a relatively small policy change for the major military branch but will alleviate general headaches for many of our soldiers and make it more welcoming to women, who are still underrepresented in the U.S. military. Of course, many conservatives in the country are tearing their own hair out, so to speak, over the idea of women with ponytails in this particular profession. This has primarily appeared in the form of concern trolling about safety.

“Great news for the women but what concerns me is the length and possibility of the hair getting caught in mechanical equipment,” said one commenter. “Its a matter of safety.”

Thankfully, for anyone truly concerned about the safety of women who have probably had longer hair for most of their lives, they are generally aware of the danger of having loose hair around certain machinery and can secure it properly when they feel it’s necessary. Also, the policy explicitly states that ponytails that could cause a legitimate safety issue would not be allowed.

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“Commanders will analyze the risk of a free-hanging ponytail or braid and use commander’s discretion to determine if long hair will be secured or tucked inside the uniform top,” said Sanders.

Others have complained that the ponytails and braids look “unprofessional,” which just sounds like sexism and racism.

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Thankfully, most of the comments are supportive of this policy change. In fact, the majority of the comments that could be considered negative are asking that the Army also allow men to have beards, which would make it more inclusive in particular for people of certain faiths that require beards on men. Others are asking why the policy on long hair does not also extend to male soldiers as there is absolutely no reason why they should be forced to wear it short when women are not.

Others were simply shocked that women weren’t allowed to wear ponytails or braids in the Army before today.

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*First Published: May 13, 2021, 2:00 pm