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US Air Force changes hair requirements for women

Thousands of women had sent in feedback, stating that current Air Force hair grooming standards resulted in hair damage, migraines and hair loss.
Credit: U.S. Air Force graphic by Corey Parrish
Starting in Feb. 2021, female Airmen in the U.S. Air Force will be able to wear longer braids, ponytails and bangs.

WASHINGTON — Women in the U.S. Air Force will soon be allowed to wear their hair in longer ponytails and braids, officials announced Thursday. 

The uniform guideline changes come after thousands of women sent in feedback, stating that current hair grooming standards resulted in hair damage, migraines and hair loss, the Air Force said in a news release. 

In addition, women's bangs will be allowed to touch their eyebrows, but not cover their eyes. 

The changes in the dress and appearance standards are set to take effect in February. 

“In addition to the health concerns we have for our Airmen, not all women have the same hair type, and our hair standards should reflect our diverse force,” Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass said in a statement. “I am pleased we could make this important change for our women service members.” 

Under current standards, women in the Air Force could have their hair in a ponytail or braids but it couldn't extend below the bottom of the collar. 

The Air Force released an illustration to show that female Airmen will be able to have their hair now extend up to "a horizontal line running between the top of each sleeve inseam at the under arm through the shoulder blades." 

Credit: U.S. Air Force graphic by Corey Parrish
Starting in Feb. 2021, female Airmen in the U.S. Air Force will be able to wear longer braids, ponytails and bangs.

The 101st U.S. Air Force uniform board met virtually in November 2020 to discuss crowdsourced ideas for changes sent in by service members. 

According to Thursday's announcement, the board also decided against relaxing current restrictions that ban most men in the Air Force from having beards.

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