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US army bans twists, braids and dreadlocks

BANNED: A power point presentation by the US Army shows the unauthorised hair styles

THE US Army has been blasted by black female soldiers after announcing its new grooming regulations would see the end of twists, multiple braids and dreadlocks.

The soldiers say the changes, which took effect on Monday (Mar 31), fail to accommodate their natural hair texture, and limit them to potentially damaging cornrows or chemical relaxing treatments.

One of the new regulations, which applies only to women, is a ban on twists, dreadlocks and multiple braids/cornrows that are bigger than a quarter of an inch.

Women with the banned hairstyles will be required to cover them up with wigs or extensions.

Sergeant Jasmine Jacobs of the Georgia National Guard has started a petition on the White House website calling on the army to reconsider its changes to "allow professional ethnic hairstyles."

In the petition, Jacobs said: "In the proposed changes, unauthorised hairstyles include twists, both flat twists as well as two strand twists; as well as dreadlocks, which are defined as 'any matted or locked coils or ropes of hair'.

"These new changes are racially biased and the lack of regard for ethnic hair is apparent."

The petition has already received over 6,000 signatures.

When asked for comment on the criticism, an army spokesman at the Pentagon, said: "The requirement for hair grooming standards is necessary to maintain uniformity within a military population."

He continued: “Many hairstyles are acceptable, as long as they are neat and conservative. In addition, headgear is expected to fit snugly and comfortably, without bulging or distortion from the intended shape of the headgear and without excessive gaps."

The new regulations also have rules for tattoos and uniforms.

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