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Congressional Black Caucus asks Army to rethink hair rules targeting black women

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Black women are known for the versatility of being able to wear many hairstyles, but new Army hair regulations have a lot of black women worried. The Congressional Black Caucus is now urging the Army to rethink these new rules.

Many perceive the new standards, meant to create uniform cohesion and professionalism, as biased and unsympathetic to black hair. Most twists, dreadlocks, and large cornrows--all styles predominantly worn by black women with natural hairstyles--are banned.

According to TIME, black women make up about a third of the women in the armed forces, and this new move is causing worry, anger, and creating uproar among black women as a whole. Patricia Jackson-Kelley of the National Association of Black Military Women is concerned with the regulations and stated, “I don’t see how a woman wearing three braids in her hair, how that affects her ability to perform her duty in the military.”

Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, head of the Congressional Black Caucus, along with other caucus members, sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel asking him to seriously reconsider the changes and included the argument that "African American women have often been required to meet unreasonable norms as it relates to acceptable standards of grooming in the workplace."

The members also feel that no one should feel “targeted” or “attacked” based on their appearance. Petitions are forming over the new guidelines, and a petition on the White House site, We the People has garnered over 17,000 signatures requesting the Obama administration to “reconsider changes to AR 670-1 to allow professional ethnic hairstyles.”

Research conducted by consumer trend analysis firm Mintel revealed that 53 percent of black women have worn braids, and 41 percent have worn locks.

The study also showed that 48 percent of the women that participated in the study believe natural hairstyles exude confidence.