U.S. Navy Rules Change Allows Dreadlocks and Ponytails for Women

U.S. Navy Legalman First Class Tamatha Schulmerich works at her desk at the Naval War College, Wednesday, July 11, 2018, in Newport, R.I. The Navy said Tuesday it will let women sailors sport ponytails and other longer hairstyles, reversing a policy that long forbade females from letting their hair down. …
AP/Jennifer McDermott

The U.S. Navy announced new rules on Tuesday that will allow female sailors to wear their hair in dreadlocks, ponytails, and buns while in uniform, a report says.

The Navy announced the rules change in a live report on its Facebook page during a July 10 interview with Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson and Chief of Naval Personnel Adm. Robert Burke, according to The Hill.

The new rule was recommended by a panel of six female sailors as well as feedback from thousands of sailors stationed across the world.

“If you’ve got a recommendation, we just demonstrated that that recommendation can make things happen,” Admiral Burke said on the video as he stood surrounded by sailors. “If you make a good proposal and we can make it fit, we can make it happen.”

An exception to the rule maintains that ponytails or other hairstyles can still be banned in particular cases depending on likely occupational hazards.

The Navy has been considering the changes since 2014 after complaints from the Congressional Black Caucus that some black sailors were penalized for wearing their hair in dreadlocks.

Original regulations banned “matted” and “unkempt” hair as well as “dreadlocks” and the combination of terms was considered “offensive” by members of the Congressional Black Caucus who demanded a change in the rules after several black sailors complained.

Indeed, one sailor, Petty Officer 2nd Class Jessica Sims, was honorably discharged in 2014 after she refused to cut her dreadlocks to satisfy regulations.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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