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Marine Corps cracks down on how troops style their hair

Details of new universal cover for women also unveiled

Dec. 18, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
The Marine Corps is cracking down on hairstyles that depart from established or traditional norms.
The Marine Corps is cracking down on hairstyles that depart from established or traditional norms. (Cpl. Joseph Marianelli / Marine Corps)
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The Marine Corps has approved a few new hairstyles for women, but it’s taking a hard line against other styles — for both male and female Marines — that it considers “faddish” or “eccentric.”

Also approved: the creation and rollout of a new universal cover for all Marines.

The changes, recommended by the Marine Corps Uniform Board that convened Oct. 29, and approved by Commandant Gen. Jim Amos, are detailed in Marine administrative message 658/13, signed Dec. 16.

Marine Corps Uniform Regulations define eccentric as “departing from the established or traditional norm,” while faddish is defined as “a transitory fashion adopted with wide enthusiasm.”

Uniform board representatives — including Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Mike Barrett, who is a sitting member — could not immediately be reached for comment to provide insight into what prompted the new standards or for more clarity on what qualifies as faddish or eccentric, but it appears commanders will have a certain amount of discretion in determining what does — or does not — meet standards.

Styles that involve “hair sculpting” were singled out for disapproval, including “eccentric directional flow, twists, texture or spiking,” according to the MARADMIN.

Other banned styles include “locks and twists” — not including french rolls or twists — and buns or braids with loose hair extending at the end, except within the recently approved “micro braid” or “multiple braid” style.

Multiple braids are a series of small, uniform braids about 18 to ¼ of an inch in diameter, that show no more than 18 inch of scalp between each braid.

“The braids must be tightly interwoven to present a neat, professional, well-groomed appearance,” the message reads.

They cannot contain foreign materials like beads or decorative items. Braids must continue to the end of natural hair, although hair may be worn loose below that point. When braids are not gathered in a bun, they must comply with hair-length standards or be worn secured to the head in one direction. When forming a bun, the bun itself may be unbraided, but neatly and inconspicuously fastened.

New universal cover coming

Another notable change is the adoption of the universal cover, an improved version of the current male cover that procurement officials say will offer better quality, fit and comfort while maintaining “the same distinctive appearance,” according to the MARADMIN.

While women are immediately authorized to wear the current male cover, they will not be required to own the next generation universal cover until May 1, 2017. Beginning April 1, 2014, however, female recruits will begin receiving the current male cover at boot camp, with the issue of one white and one green crown.

All recruits — male and female — will be issued the next generation universal cover beginning May 1, 2015. On that same day, the cover will become available for purchase in Marine Corps clothing stores.

The search for a universal cover generated outcry among Marines in October when it was revealed — in a survey preceding the Uniform Board — that the female cover, re-branded the “Dan Daly cap” was also in the running.

Marine officials quickly assured Marines there was never an earnest plan to adopt the female cover for all Marines.

Col. Todd S. Desgrosseilliers, the Marine Corps Uniform Board president, said: “The surveys often contain photo illustrations that portray what a uniform article might look like when worn by a Marine. This is a very standard practice. While there was never any desire or intent to change the male Marine dress cover, the feedback we have received to maintain this iconic cover has been heard, loud and clear.”

For more uniform regulation details, refer to the MARADMIN.

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