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Government Relaxes Restrictions on Black Hairstyles for Women in the Military

Franque ThompsonOMAHA (KPTM)- For several months, black women in the military weren't able to wear their hair the way they wanted to. This was because of a new regulation that banned certain hair styles that weren't considered the proper look for military service. Now, after months of review, that ban has been lifted.Alaya West has a lot of hair to fix up before she goes to work in the army. She has served for nearly six years as a specialist."Your hair can interfere with your pc which is understandable because it's part of the uniform," said West.Uniformity was what the U.S. military was going for. Back in March, government officials enforced rules against certain hairstyles for black women, known as the Army Regulation 670-1 "Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia." This included many hairstyles that West had to give up."I couldn't be who I was and I couldn't wear my hair the way I wanted to because it was offensive to them," said West.The new rules on grooming did not allow black women to wear traditional hairstyleslike twists or certain types of braids. They also couldn't wear headbands or afros. West said she found terms in the new regulationlike "matted" and "unkempt" to be racially insensitive."We actually had to have a full blown class on it, that's how big it was. As a black woman in the military i felt like I was being targeted and it wasn't fair towards me," said West.Plenty other women felt the same as West, and after months of review, government officials got the message. Most of those rules were relaxed to allow black women to have a "do" that fits military requirementsand they're style."Now I really just feel like I have a voice now and I can truly be myself and I can be myself as a black woman," said West.The hair requirements weren't the only things adjusted in the new regulations. The words "matted" and "unkempt" were also taken out of the appearance guidelinesas many found the terms to be offensive.fthompson@kptm.com

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