In the Air Force, having been a member for 12 years, there is an Air Force Instruction on the governing of how one is to present themselves while in uniform – the policy is called AFI-36-2903, Dress and Appearance of Air Force Personnel. There are similar policies for other branches of the military.
Within the restrictions for women and their hair, both relaxed and natural, how does one properly navigate the protocool? If you would like more information regarding the policy in its entirety please Google search: “AFI 36-2903” and enjoy the 183 page(s) read, or continue along here :).
Here are few experts from the policy instruction, please note it is mandatory for all personnel to adhere:
From section 3 pages 17-19
22.214.171.124. Wigs/Hairpieces/Extensions. Will meet the same standard required for natural hair and will be of good quality, fit properly, and comply with safety, functionality and professionalism. Synthetic hair or other materials are not authorized when prohibited by safety and mission requirements.
3.1.3. Hair-Female. Minimum length is one inch, unless approved by the commander upon recommendation from a military treatment facility for medical reasons, to a maximum bulk of three inches from scalp. Hair will end above the bottom edge of collar and any side of an invisible line drawn parallel to the ground. Bangs will not touch either eyebrow, to include an invisible line drawn across eyebrows and parallel to the ground. If worn, hairpins, combs, headbands, elastic bands and barrettes must match the hair color (i.e., blonde, brunette, natural red, black, grey), but hair must still comply with bulk and appearance standards. Ornaments are not authorized (i.e., ribbons, beads, jeweled pins). Scrunches are not authorized.
126.96.36.199. Braids, micro-braids and cornrows are authorized. However, they must be a natural looking color for human beings similar to the individual’s hair color; conservative (moderate, being within reasonable limits; not excessive or extreme) and not present a faddish appearance. Braids must continue to the end of the hair in one direction, in a straight line, and may be worn loose or a secured style within hair standards in paragraph 3.1.3 above. Dreadlocks, (defined as long strands of hair that have been twisted closely from the scalp down to the tips; heavy matted coils of hair which form by themselves, eventually fusing together to form a single dread; or unkempt, twisted, matted individual parts of hair), shaved head, flattops and military high-and-tight cuts are not authorized hairstyles for female Airmen.
Overall as a natural and being in the military my hair styles are very limited – as you can see from the restrictions above. I normally keep my hair in twist either with my natural hair or adding Marley hair, however I do run into the occasional senior enlisted personnel who questions if my hair are locs or the size of my bun.
I often think to myself isn’t there something that person could be doing that’s more important than worry my hair?
What are some styling options that you found fit the requirements of the military?