The Daily Grind Video

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Tuesday that the U.S. military will allow women a wider range of hairstyles to choose from, after coming under fire back in March for its “racially biased” guidelines. 

The original hair guidelines quickly became unpopular amongst African-American women in the service, with its derogatory language and restriction to hairstyles that are popular among black women. Regulations banned women from having twists, dreadlocks, and multiple braids or cornrows that are bigger than a quarter of an inch.

Black service members quickly spoke out – not only about the heavy restrictions, but the insensitive language used in the guidelines, such as “matted” and “unkempt” to describe certain hairstyles. Sgt. Jasmine Jacobs of the Georgia National Guard started the petition about these new changes on the White House website, writing: 

“These new changes are racially biased and the lack of regard for ethnic hair is apparent.”

Hagel’s review of the guidelines came after female members of the Congressional Black Caucus wrote to the Defense Secretary, claiming the new regulations were both discriminatory and targeted “soldiers who are women of color with little regard to what is needed to maintain their natural hair.”

Hagel stated in a letter to CBC Chairwoman, Marcia Fudge, that the military service has reviewed the definitions of authorized hairstyles, and eliminated offensive language such as “matted” and “unkempt.” According to Hagel, each Service has reviewed their hairstyle policies to ensure they are fair and respectful while meeting military standards.