Throughout 2020 and 2021, the US Air Force made several changes to the dress and appearance of the Air Force Instruction. Most of the changes have been observed in regulations specific to women.
Significant changes to restrictions on female hair in early 2021 included allowing braids and ponytails in all uniforms, operational security permitting.
Women’s health is one of the main reasons for this decision. In November 2020, the Air Force Uniform Council reviewed various recommendations from across the Air Force. The Air Force Women’s Initiative team provided the board with detailed research and feedback from thousands of Air Force women indicating that current standards for women’s hairstyle result in migraines.
“I personally know I have bun headaches, but no ponytail headaches,” said Lt Jessica Cleaver, the 325th Contracting Squadron service flight officer. “I can attest to the increased comfort I have now every day. “
Research presented to the board also showed that long-term styling of a bun can damage hair and even fall out.
“I’m glad I don’t have a headache until I’m off duty,” said Senior Airman Kirsten Watson, knowledge management journeyman with 325 Communications Squadron. “These changes also saved our hair. By wearing a bun everyday, you will notice hair loss and red bumps on the hairline. Due to this new change, I will not show signs of baldness in my 20s. “
An equally important reason for changing the standards for female hair was to ensure that the regulations are inclusive and accommodate all Air Force personnel. Previous standards were more difficult for some women to meet than others, depending on their hair type.
“In addition to the health issues we have for our Airmen, not all women have the same hair type, and our hair standards should reflect our diverse strength,” said Air Force Master Sgt. JoAnne. Bass in the Air Force announcement of the currency. “I am delighted that we were able to make this important change for our women in the military.”
Watson described the expanded approved hairstyles as “the regulatory change that every woman thanks leadership the most for.”
This update to the AFI outfit and appearance was well received by women in the Air Force, but for women who didn’t want or need a change, updos are still. authorized. This change simply allows Airmen to have more choices to take better care of their health.
While discussing the importance of recognizing the diversity within our forces, Master Sgt. Denise Ntow, a member of the commander’s support staff for 325 Controller Squadron, said “these changes are important because they show that the Air Force is listening to the concerns of its people.”
These updates to women’s grooming standards weren’t the only regulations to be adjusted in order to stay abreast of the forces’ needs and preferences. Maintenance Specific Airmen can now wear shorts and duty identification patches are currently in preparation for all career fields. Members should keep abreast of all updated bylaws to understand what is now allowed.
“I think the Air Force is doing a good job looking at things that don’t make sense,” Cleaver concluded. “These are the conversations that are going on right now that are causing great change. I encourage everyone, men and women, to continue discussing what the law looks like for them in 2021. ”
Members can submit uniform suggestions to the Air Force Uniform Council for review by visiting the Airman Powered by Innovation page on the Air Force portal.