The U.S. Army recently lifted its ban on hair worn in dreadlocks.

Sgt. Maj. Anthony Moore of the Army’s office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel said the new directive offers female soldiers another option for styling their hair.

“We understood there was no need to differentiate between locks, cornrows or twists as long as they all met the same dimension,” Moore told the Northwest Guardian, a publication of Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state. “Females have been asking for a while, especially females of African-American descent, to be able to wear dreadlocks and locks because it’s easier to maintain that hairstyle.”

According to the Army’s directive, each lock or dreadlock, “will be of uniform dimension; have a diameter no greater than a half-inch; and present a neat, professional and well-groomed appearance.”

Grooming regulations in the different branches of the military have been at odds with natural hair for many years, with female soldiers having pushed for easement on the rules since 2014 when the Army changed its rules on natural hair.

Amid a backlash of criticism, the Army at that time, banned large cornrows, locs, and twists, as well as hair that could not be “neatly” pulled back into a bun. Afro hairstyles had also been banned in an effort to “maintain uniformity within a military population.”

“I didn’t think it would happen before I retired,” Capt. Danielle N. Roach, who has been enlisted for 14 years, told the New York Times. “When I heard it, I was like, ‘There’s no way this is real.’ It’s a shock to a lot of people.”

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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