Curious eyes may have spotted female Airmen wearing their hair a little looser since the beginning of February.
On Jan. 21, the Air Force announced the loosening of hair restrictions for females in the Air Force. Women are now allowed to wear their hair in up to two braids or a single ponytail, as long as the bulk of the hair does not exceed the width of the head and the length of the hair does not exceed their shoulder blades. Additionally, women’s bang length has been extended to touching the eyebrows.
“In addition to the health concerns we have for our Airmen, not all women have the same hair type, and our hair standards should reflect our diverse force,” said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass. “I am pleased we could make this important change for our women service members.”
The changes are welcomed by Ramstein female Airmen as well, as 86th Maintenance Squadron women are happy to hear about the changes.
“I had to cut my hair because I was having issues with it a year ago and now I can grow it back out again,” said Airman 1st Class Tsvyata Munguia, 86th MXS sheet metal aircraft structural maintainer. “So that makes me really happy.”
Senior Airman Danielle Hundley, 86th MXS sheet metal aircraft structural maintainer, is delighted to see things continue to change after loc hairstyles were allowed in 2018.
Not all regulations are applied equally however, as the press release notes that female Airmen must also adhere to safety standards:
“Members must adhere to current occupational safety, fire and health guidance, and mishap prevention procedures emphasizing when and how to mitigate the potential for injury from hair of varying lengths around machinery, equipment, power transmission apparatus or moving parts.”
As one of the squadrons affected by those standards, female maintainers from the 86th MXS understand.
“If we’re in the shop (awaiting tasks) it’s fine,” Hundley said. “But when you start working you better put your hair up.”
Sheet metal maintenance involves working with and around chemicals that can cause permanent damage to hair as well as skin. There are also hazards involved with working next to aircraft with many extraneous parts.
Regardless, Munguia is excited for what this means for the Air Force at large.
“This is a big step forward,” Munguia said. “It’s giving women more control over their own hair. They listened to what women wanted and why it was causing them problems.”
Munguia also agreed with the Air Force Women’s Initiative Team feedback stating that the previous grooming standards were causing women’s health issues.
“Having to pull my hair into a bun so tight every day put bumps on my head and gave me headaches,” Munguia said. “It was super uncomfortable and felt horrible.”
Munguia hopes that this move will eventually cause fewer health issues for women in the military and decrease stress.