Col. Michele Edmondson, 81st Training Wing commander, speaks to Biloxi High School Junior ROTC cadets following a Women’s History Month all-female retreat ceremony in March 2017, on Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Photo by Kemberly Groue/U.S. Air Force
Jan. 21 (UPI) -- Women in the Air Force will be able to wear their hair longer beginning in February, per a service standard change announced Thursday.
According to the Air Force, women will now be able to wear up to two brads or a single ponytail "with bulk not exceeding the width of the head and length not extending below a horizontal line running between the top of each sleeve inseam at the under arm through the shoulder blades."
Women will also be able to wear bangs long enough to touch their eyebrows, but not cover their eyes.
"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," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., in a press release.
"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," Brown said.
The Air Force convened a uniform board virtually in November 2020 to discuss ideas gathered during a dress and appearance crowdsourcing campaign.
According to the Air Force, thousands of women provided feedback to the service's Women's Initiative Team, saying the existing constraints to grooming standards resulted in damage to hair, migraines and in some cases, hair loss.
"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," said Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass. "I am pleased we could make this important change for our women service members."
The Air Force touted the new grooming standards as part of ongoing efforts to address diversity and inclusion in its ranks, including the creation of a Diversity Board in the Defense Department, chaired by then-Secretary of the AIr Force Barbara Barrett.