Women in the United States Marines will now have the ability to wear twisted and locked hairstyles during their service.

A year ago, the Army and the Marines came under fire for publishing new regulations about women’s hair that were deemed racially biased. Both military factions had already banned dreadlocks since 2005 but had yet to fully detail the exact styles which would be prohibited, and therefore be cause for punishment if worn, until last year’s updates. The updates included styles like cornrows, braids, locs, and twists – styles that many Black women who serve this country choose to wear when in the field.

However, the recent rule changes suggest that the Marines have considered the impact the hairstyle limits have on Black women in particular. They have deemed that twists and locs are now “professional and neat in appearance” when executed according to their narrow guidelines.


Photo: Marine Corps

According to the new rules:

“Twist hairstyles allow two sections of hair twisted together, which forms a rope or cord-like appearance.  Twists may only be worn with medium or long hair, and can extend no more than 2 inches from the scalp.  Medium length does not extend beyond the collar’s lower edge and extends more than one inch from the scalp. Long hair extends beyond the collar’s lower edge.

One- and two-twist hairstyles such as the French twist are authorized as long as a neat and professional military appearance is maintained and the hairstyle does not interfere with the proper wear of headgear.

Only braids and twists may be “secured” to the scalp (hair is continually added to the braid or twist as it continues to the hairline at the nape of the neck). This must follow the contour of the head from front to nape in one direction.  Individual braids, twists, and locks can be no more than 3/8-inch apart, cannot be more than 3/8-inch in diameter, and must remain tightly interlaced/twisted. New growth, which is defined as hair that naturally grows from the scalp and has not yet been braided, twisted or locked, cannot exceed ½-inch at any time.

Locks, multiple braids, and multiple twist hairstyles must encompass the whole head (with the exception of bangs. Mixing of styles is not allowed, and foreign material cannot be incorporated into or attached onto the hair.”

This is an important change which will impact many Black women soldiers.

(H/T: Marine Corps Times)


Photo credit: Marine Corps