Skip To Main

Congresswoman Clarke Commends Reversal of Military Hairstyle Guidelines

Brooklyn, N.Y. – Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke released the following statement on the reversal of Department of Defense guidelines for the hairstyles of service members in each branch of the military that would have prohibited many hairstyles worn by African-American women.

Secretary of Defense Charles Hagel had agreed to review the guidelines after Congresswoman Clarke with several other members of the Congressional Black Caucus contacted him in April about their concerns. The guidelines would have limited braids to a 1/4 of an inch wide and not longer than 1/8 of an inch long and prohibited wearing more than two flat braids, among other prohibitions.

“The hairstyle guidelines failed to account for the diversity of our armed forces – in which fourteen percent of active duty service members are women, a figure that will certainly increase in the future,” said Congresswoman Clarke. “I want to thank Secretary Hagel for reversing these guidelines, which would have effectively excluded thousands of women from the armed forces based on their ethnicity.”

U.S. Representative Yvette D. Clarke is a member of the House Committee on Small Business, Ethics, and Homeland Security, where she is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies. She represents many neighborhoods in central and southern Brooklyn, NY which include Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Gerritsen Beach, Madison, Midwood, parts of Park Slope and Flatlands, Prospect Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Sheepshead Bay, and Windsor Terrace.