Marines Crack Down on Fashionable Hairstyles

New regulations approved by the Corps’ top general ban several different hairdos and make achieving the perfect braid pretty difficult.

A U.S. Marine receives a haircut in Afghanistan in 2012.
National Journal
Marina Koren
Dec. 18, 2013, 11:43 a.m.

The Mar­ine Corps has an­nounced plans to roll out a uni­ver­sal cap for all Mar­ines, modeled after the cov­er cur­rently worn by male mem­bers, fol­low­ing some con­tro­versy over a uni­sex design. Not only that, it’s tight­en­ing its reg­u­la­tions on what ex­actly can be un­der­neath these brand-new caps.

Spe­cific­ally, no “fad­dish” or “ex­ag­ger­ated” hair­styles are al­lowed, ac­cord­ing to a Monday ad­min­is­trat­ive or­der ap­proved by the Corps’ top gen­er­al. “Mean­ing… what, ex­actly?” asks Gawker‘s Adam Wein­stein.

We’re not quite sure, so we’ll let you be the judge. The hair­dos banned while in uni­form in­clude:

LOCKS AND TWISTS (NOT IN­CLUD­ING FRENCH ROLLS/TWISTS), HAIR SCULPT­ING (EC­CENT­RIC DIR­EC­TION­AL FLOW, TWISTS, TEX­TURE OR SPIK­ING), BUNS OR BRAIDS WITH LOOSE HAIR EX­TEND­ING AT THE END….

“Ec­cent­ric” hair­styles are also a big no-no. The Mar­ines define ec­cent­ric as “de­part­ing from the es­tab­lished or tra­di­tion­al norm,” and fad­dish as “a trans­it­ory fash­ion ad­op­ted with wide en­thu­si­asm,” ac­cord­ing to the Mar­ine Corps Times.

The note goes on to de­scribe in great de­tail the prop­er braid pro­tocol for ser­vice­wo­men:

BRAIDS … WHEN WORN, MUL­TIPLE BRAIDS SHALL BE OF UNI­FORM DI­MEN­SION, SMALL IN DIA­MET­ER (AP­PROX. 1/8 TO 1/4 INCH), SHOW NO MORE THAN 1/8 OF AN INCH OF SCALP BETWEEN THE BRAIDS AND MUST BE TIGHTLY IN­TER­WOVEN TO PRESENT A NEAT, PRO­FES­SION­AL, WELL GROOMED AP­PEAR­ANCE.

FOR­EIGN MA­TER­I­AL (I.E., BEADS, DEC­OR­AT­IVE ITEMS) SHALL NOT BE BRAIDED IN­TO THE HAIR. BRAIDS MUST CON­TIN­UE TO THE END OF THE NAT­UR­AL HAIR AND CAN BE WORN LOOSE FROM THAT POINT. WHEN WORN LOOSE, BRAIDS WILL COM­PLY WITH ME­DI­UM OR LONG HAIR LENGTH GUIDELINES, OR BE SE­CURED TO THE HEAD IN ONE DIR­EC­TION, IN STRAIGHT LINES (FORE AND AFT WHEN WEAR­ING A BUN). THE HAIR FORM­ING THE BUN MAY BE UN­BRAIDED. BUNS AND ENDS SHALL BE NEATLY AND IN­CON­SPICU­OUSLY FASTENED OR PINNED.

These re­com­mend­a­tions came from the Mar­ine Corps Uni­form Board, which pre­vi­ously sur­veyed Mar­ines about their pre­ferred hat design. Strict rules about ap­pear­ance are stand­ard in the U.S. mil­it­ary. In Septem­ber, the U.S. Army ap­proved a change in its ap­pear­ance reg­u­la­tions that would ban tat­toos be­low the el­bow or knees.

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