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Army to authorize long ponytails with all uniforms, service's enlisted leader says

A soldier poses for a photo with medium-length hair secured into a ponytail, as authorized in Army grooming standards in January 2021. Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston tweeted recently that long ponytails will be allowed with all uniforms. Currently, they are allowed only during physical training or with the Army Combat Uniform.

U.S. ARMY

By DAVID L. EDGE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 26, 2021

Women in the Army will be allowed to wear their hair in long ponytails in all uniforms, the service’s top enlisted leader has said.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston announced the new rule Thursday, when he joined a conversation on Twitter where people were speculating about another grooming change being in the works.

“How about I save you the trouble?” he tweeted. “The long ponytail was originally voted against. But after hearing from our Soldiers, the panel asked if they could reconsider their decision.

“Working out the details, but 1-2 ponytails in all uniforms, down to the shoulder blade,” he wrote.

Up to now, long ponytails have only been authorized when wearing the Army Combat Uniform or during physical fitness training. The rule change will also allow braided ponytails, Grinston said in a reply to a comment to his post.

An Army panel made up mainly of women recommended last year that female soldiers be allowed to get buzz cuts, like their male counterparts, and that those with medium-length hair that can’t be pulled into a bun be allowed to wear it in a ponytail.

Many of the recommendations were incorporated into an updated version of AR-670-1, the Army’s all-encompassing regulation governing appearance and how to wear uniforms, and took effect in late February.

Women serving in the Air Force have been allowed since February to wear their hair in two braids or a single ponytail no longer than the “top of each sleeve inseam at the underarm through the shoulder blades.”

The new Air Force rule also allows female airmen to have bangs that touch their eyebrows, but do not cover their eyes.

The changes are part of a trend across the services to revamp policies that disproportionately affect women and Black service members.

edge.david@stripes.com
Twitter: @DavidEd96798393

U.S. Army Sgt. Janean Sanders lets a group of Afghan girls play with her ponytail during a mission led by 25th Infantry Division soldiers in downtown Kandahar City, Afghanistan, in 2011. Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston tweeted recently that long ponytails will be allowed with all uniforms. Currently, they are only allowed during physical training and with the Army Combat Uniform.
CANAAN RADCLIFFE/U.S. ARMY