Ponytails and braids will be acceptable for female Air Force service members beginning next month, it was announced Thursday.
A single ponytail, or one to two braids, were among changes implemented by The 101st Air Force uniform board.
Women’s hair cannot exceed the width of the head nor extend below “a horizontal line running between the top of each sleeve inseam at the under arm through the shoulder blades,” the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs said in a statement.
Also, women’s bangs now can touch their eyebrows but not cover their eyes.
“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. “I am pleased we could make this important change for our women service members.”
The changes will go into effect when the Air Force Instruction standards are published in February, per the American Military News.
“As I outlined in Action Order A: Airmen, this decision is a commitment to supporting the Airmen We Need and sustaining the culture and environment of excellence that will continue to make the Air Force an attractive career choice for Airmen and families,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., said.
“I’m thankful for the feedback and research conducted from a number of women leaders, the Women’s Initiative Team, the Air Force uniform board, and our joint teammates.”
The Air Force uniform board convened virtually in November to discuss changes that stemmed from a crowdsourcing campaign in which Airmen across the force shared ideas.
The board reviewed a number of ideas, including feedback from thousands of Air Force women, regarding constraints to hair grooming standards that caused “damage to hair, migraines, and in some cases, hair loss.”
The Air Force chief of staff considered feedback from the air service branch and the uniform board, in addition to “the professional image and standards of the Air Force and U.S. military,” before signing off on the new policy.
“We remain committed to removing barriers to service,” said Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services. “In an all-volunteer force, we want fully qualified volunteers who are representative of the nation to see us as a great opportunity to maximize their talent and serve.”
Although the board discussed beard wear for men, the Air Force plans to continue under the current male grooming standards without adjustments.
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