The Army is trying to keep pace with the latest fashion, but not change the image of the tradition-bound organization.
Dreadlocks and nail polish on males are out, as is dyed hair of flamboyant colors, such as purple, blue, pink and fire-engine red. But a male’s shaved head is in, as are a woman’s braids and cornrows.
The new guidelines were recently published on an Army Web site in anticipation that Army Secretary Thomas White will give final approval in the coming months.
“Obviously, times change and the Army changes with the times,” said Martha Rudd, an Army spokeswoman at the Pentagon. “Because it is a conservative organization, it does not change rapidly. There are some changes society makes the Army will probably not do.”
Miss Rudd said that in some cases the draft regulations are authorizing styles already accepted in the field. Examples: cornrows and a man’s shaven head.
“Since the regulations were published in 1992, it’s become more in the mainstream of how males look,” she said. “So they felt it necessary to mention. If you want to shave your head, that’s OK.”
In the case of dreadlocks, the Army already outlaws such a long hairstyle on men and women.
The Army does not rely solely on written regulations to guide soldiers. Master Sgt. Kittie Messman is sort of a full-time fashion adviser at the Pentagon, telling individual soldiers what they can and cannot wear.
“We don’t want to rob people of their individuality,” Sgt. Messman told the Army News Service. “But the Army has never professed to be a leader in fashion. Our goal is to create a conservative, professional image and some of the more trendy styles will not accomplish that goal.”
Among other uniform policy changes:
Males must keep fingernails trimmed to the tip of the finger. Females must maintain nails no longer than 1/4-inch from the fingertip. Two-tone or multitone manicures and nail designs are prohibited.
Tinted or colored contact lenses, or contacts that change the shape of the iris, are prohibited. The only approved contacts are opaque lenses when prescribed for eye injuries and clear, vision-correcting lenses.
Soldiers can wear either a cellular phone or pager with the uniform in the performance of official duties.
“The regulations has to change with time,” Sgt. Messman said. “If not, we’ll still be wearing uniforms from the Civil War.”