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Army formalizes plan to allow women to wear ponytails

On Thursday, the Army said female soldiers may now wear a ponytail -- such as the one U.S. Army Sgt. Janean Sanders is pictured letting a group of Afghan girls play with -- that is as long as the bottom of their shoulder blades. File Photo by Sgt. Canaan Radcliffe/Defense Department
On Thursday, the Army said female soldiers may now wear a ponytail -- such as the one U.S. Army Sgt. Janean Sanders is pictured letting a group of Afghan girls play with -- that is as long as the bottom of their shoulder blades. File Photo by Sgt. Canaan Radcliffe/Defense Department

May 6 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army on Thursday formalized its plan to allow women to wear their hair in a ponytail with all uniforms.

The announcement was an amendment to new guidance in February, which only allowed ponytails when female soldiers were involved in physical fitness or tactical training, or were wearing a helmet.

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In those instances, they were allowed to tuck the ponytail into the back of their uniforms.

Now, women may wear a single ponytail straight down the middle of their backs with the length not extending past the bottom of their shoulder blades while standing at attention.

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The only exception to the length is during tactical or physical training, when it could hinder performance or safety.

Women may also wear two braids, a single braid or multiple braids, twists or cornrows fastened together into one or two braids or a single ponytail.

In March, U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Michael Grinston indicated the uniform guidelines would change to allow ponytails during a question-and-answer session on Twitter.

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

The Army said it revised its guidelines after receiving feedback from a group of soldiers.

"This new modification is more practical for our female soldiers," said Sgt. Maj. Brian C. Sanders of the Army G-1 Uniform Policy Branch.

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"It allows them flexibility in a tactical environment, while maintaining a professional appearance in garrison. This change also helps to alleviate hair loss and damage to the scalp," Sanders said.

In January, the Air Force also updated its uniform guidance to allow women to wear their hair longer, with bangs and in two braids or a single ponytail.

According to the Air Force, thousands of women provided feedback to the service's Women's Initiative Team, saying the previous constraints to grooming standards resulted in damage to hair, migraines and, in some cases, hair loss.

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