The U.S.Navy has lifted the ban on dreadlocks, ponytails and braids for women, joining the Marines, Air Force and Army.
Petty Officer 1st Class Jacqualynn Leak led the movement to overturn the outdated dress code. I wanted to make an argument so compelling that every reason my chain of command could give me for why dreadlocks were banned could easily be rebutted with facts,” she told The Huffington Post.
Leaks was forced to wear a wig to cover up her dreadlocks which became harder to hide as her hair became longer. Many female sailors with dreadlocks were forced to either cut their hair or suffer punishment.
Four years ago the Navy came under fire by the Congressional Black Caucus for honorably discharging Petty Officer 2nd Class Jessica Sims after she refused to cut off her dreadlocks after reportedly wearing them in a bun for years.
Before 2004 females were still required to wear skirts. Change came despite pushbacks from men who were not 100 percent supportive of the idea of having women as colleagues. At the time history professor at William and Mary College Leisa Meyer said the uniform changes for women show the Navy is more progressive and forward-looking than other, more combat-oriented branches of the military, which more rigidly define gender roles.”
The Navy has comprised a task force made up of all female sailors with the goal of revising the new grooming standards. Added to the list of acceptable hairstyles will now include braids, ponytails, and styled buns. Also allowed for female sailors will be hair styled below the collar of their shirt.