COLUMBUS, GA (WXTX) - A change in U.S. Army regulation announced March 31, 2014 is causing uproar among some soldiers.
Army Regulation 607-1 went into effect Monday with new rules on tattoos, grooming and uniform wear and hairstyles. It now states Army soldiers cannot wear their hair in certain styles. Many people, especially female soldiers, are shocked by this change.
Nakia Robinson, a U.S. Army veteran who served for seven years, said she is concerned about this new rule.
"In my opinion, this new update could be very difficult for female soldiers," Robinson explained. "It can be hard for African American female soldiers in particular to now maintain a natural hairstyle and still look professional."
Robinson said she's worried about how female soldiers would have to wear their hair when they are in uniform.
"I read that females are no longer able to wear the double strand twist and more," Robinson added. "From my point of view, these hairstyles are actually comfortable. Braids allow me to keep my hair healthy and I can still wear my head gear just fine."
Twists and dreadlocks have already been prohibited since 2005. However, the new regulation now said no twists or multiple braids that are bigger than a quarter of an inch are allowed.
According to an Army spokesperson at the pentagon, this rule was enforced in hopes to help soldiers wear their uniform and gears comfortably. The Army also wanted to stress the importance of looking professional at all times.
Robinson said she respects the new regulation. However, she said this might limit hairstyle options female soldiers try anymore.
"There are two or three hairstyles that women in uniform, especially women with natural hair can do," Robinson said. "So now that's limiting many female soldiers to one or two hairstyles."
Robinson said she had straightened her hair when she was serving on active duty and said putting chemicals and relaxing her hair damaged it. Robinson had to cut her hair and try growing it out again, which took her a lot of time and effort.
"Braids actually protect our hair from sand, debris and anything else that might get into my hair," Robinson said. "I can't remember my headgear not fitting or feeling uncomfortable when I had my hair braided."
About 7,000 soldiers and others are now signing a White House petition to ask the President to reconsider the regulation on appearance and grooming. It needs a total of 100,000 signatures by April 19, 2014 to be considered.