New steerage approved by the commandant of the Marine Corps considerably loosens the pressure’s strict guidelines governing female Marines’ hair, however — in contrast to each different department — ponytails are nonetheless verboten.
A MARADMIN message launched Wednesday provides feminine Marines leeway to put on their hair unfastened at a barely larger size than earlier than, permits some half-up hairstyles, lets girls put on brief twists and authorizes a wider vary of types for ladies with lengthy hair. It additionally explicitly removes the expectation that girls put on their hair slicked again.
The Marine Corps divides girls’s hair into three classes: brief (lower than one inch from the scalp), medium and lengthy. Women with brief or medium hair are allowed to put on their hair unfastened relatively than securing it up.
The new steerage, efficient instantly, defines medium hair as shorter than two inches beneath the underside fringe of a uniform collar within the again and lengthy hair as something longer than that. Previously, medium hair couldn’t lengthen beneath the collar’s decrease edge.
In follow, the brand new rule implies that feminine Marines can get away with carrying their hair unfastened at barely longer than shoulder size, relatively than simply bob size, so long as the hair doesn’t obscure the rank insignia on the collar.
Per the brand new rule, girls with medium-length hair can put on their hair half unfastened and half in ponytails or in a single or two braids whereas within the fight utility uniform, flight go well with or bodily coaching uniform.
Women with brief hair can now put on their hair in twists, a coiffure that’s widespread amongst Black girls however previously was available solely to girls with medium or lengthy hair.
And the MARADMIN’s steerage lets girls type lengthy hair in a greater diversity of how than earlier than.
Previous steerage dictated that lengthy hair be secured in order that it didn’t lengthen beneath the bottom of the collar’s decrease edge, besides within the bodily coaching uniform. That meant most feminine Marines with lengthy hair wore it in a decent bun.
Now, lengthy hair should nonetheless be tucked up, however it could possibly lengthen to 2 inches beneath the bottom of the collar’s decrease edge. Female Marines thus have extra latitude in how they type lengthy hair.
They are nonetheless not approved to put on ponytails, besides when they’re of their bodily coaching uniforms, based on the uniform board web site. That makes the Marine Corps an anomaly: The Navy started permitting ponytails in 2018, and the opposite branches adopted go well with in 2021.
Another, actually looser, coverage within the MARADMIN makes clear that feminine Marines with lengthy hair shouldn’t be anticipated to slick again their hair.
“In order to minimize potential damage from daily hairstyling, Marines are encouraged to avoid alcohol-based styling products, styling wet hair, and hairstyles that cause undue tension on hair follicles,” the MARADMIN reads. “There is no requirement to have tightly pulled back or slicked back hair at any length.”
Female Marines with lengthy hair usually pull it again tightly and use merchandise to maintain it in place — a follow that may trigger traction alopecia, hair loss attributable to pulling on the roots. And sustaining a slicked-back bun may be particularly troublesome for some Black girls with pure hair.
With solely 9% of its troops being feminine, the Marine Corps is the service with the bottom ratio of ladies to males. Increasing the number of women within the ranks of the Marine Corps has been one in all commandant Gen. David Berger’s acknowledged priorities.
Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Troy Black, the highest enlisted Marine, mentioned in November 2021 mentioned that the Corps had been discussing adjustments to the hair coverage, together with probably permitting ponytails.
“As part of that diversity, equity, inclusion conversation, those conversations are being had,” Black mentioned on the time.
Irene Loewenson is a workers reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, the place she was the editor-in-chief of the scholar newspaper.