The Air Force is again revising its grooming and appearance regulations after finding that big hair poses a problem for some women who want to sport a ponytail at work.
In February, the Air Force started allowing female airmen and guardians to wear a single ponytail or a single or double braid in uniform, provided that the hairstyle was not wider than the woman’s head. But that hindered women whose hair is too thick or curly to fall straight down behind their heads when pulled up.
Starting June 25, the service will allow women’s hair to fan out across a 1-foot span — six inches to the left and six inches to the right of the midpoint where the hair is gathered.
Women must still make sure their hair does not extend past their shoulder blades, be able to properly wear their headgear with locks that width, and comply with occupational safety, fire and health guidance.
The service hopes its evolving dress and appearance rules will help better include women of all races and offer more comfort in uniform.
“This updated guidance represents meaningful progress,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown said in a news release Friday. “The feedback we received from our airmen highlighted the need to reevaluate the policy.”
The 19-person Air Force uniform board that issued recommendations leading to the initial hair change will continue to consider other potential updates, the service said. That board is comprised of male and female officers and enlisted members across various ethnic backgrounds and careers within the Air Force and Space Force.
“Whether we’re talking about hair, uniforms or forums for sharing ideas, an approach that embraces diversity and fosters an inclusive environment is critical to ensuring our talented, dedicated Airmen stay with us on this journey,” Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne Bass said in the release.
Rachel Cohen joined Air Force Times as senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in Air Force Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), the Washington Post, and others.