The Army’s tattoo and hair rules, which were published in March, caused intense controversy. Although the regulations were developed “to maintain the professional appearance of the force,” many believed they were specifically harsh. Following six months of backlash, the Army has revised their tattoo and hair rules.
Prior to the latest revision, the rules prohibited numerous hairstyles, including dreadlocks, multiple braids, and twists. Soldiers were given one week to change their hairstyle or wear a wig.
In addition to appearance, the rules were also meant to ensure the soldiers’ safety. Army spokesman Lt. Col. S. Justin Platt explains.
“… headgear is expected to fit snugly and comfortably, without bulging or distortion from the intended shape of the headgear and without excessive gaps.”
The rules were specifically prohibitive for females, who often braid or twist their hair because it is “easy to take care of in the field.”
As reported by The Huffington Post, some soldiers felt the hair rules were racially biased. Sgt. Jasmine Jacobs argued that the regulations would prevent black women from wearing natural hairstyles.
“… changes to AR 670-1 offer little to no options for females with natural hair… These new changes are racially biased and the lack of regard for ethnic hair is apparent.”
In the latest revision, the Army will now allow braids, cornrows, and twists. However, dreadlocks remain prohibited. Although the braids, cornrows, and twists will give soldiers more hairstyle options, they must “follow the natural direction of the hair” and “be evenly spaced.”
As reported by Army Times, the Army’s tattoo rules were also revised. In the March revision, soldiers with “grandfathered-in” tattoos would not be considered for an officer position. The latest revision removed the prohibition.
Although the Army tattoo rules were revised, soldiers are not allowed to have tattoos that are extremist, indecent, racist, or sexist in nature. They are also prohibited from having tattoos on their ears, eyelids, face, head, and mouth.
The Army’s tattoo rules also ban arm and leg “sleeve” tattoos. Arm bans are allowed — as long as they do not exceed two inches in width. Soldiers are also limited to a total of “four visible tattoos.”
The rule revision also addressed body “mutilations” or modifications, including unnecessary alteration of the ears, tongue, and teeth. Although mutilations are prohibited, soldiers who had the modifications before March 31 are now permitted to request an exemption.
The Army’s new tattoo and hair rules will certainly give soldiers more options. However, it is unclear whether the revision will make a significant impact.
[Image via Tat Rating]