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Ponytails and lipstick: US women soldiers get style

(The Pentagon announced that female soldiers would be able to color their nails, don earrings and grow their hair long — as opposed to in the past, when women with longer hair had to tie it in buns, which many said was uncomfortable. Photo: AFP)

WASHINGTON, (AFP):- Women in the US army are going to be able to dress up a little.

The Pentagon announced Tuesday that female soldiers would be able to grow their hair long, color their nails and don earrings.

Revisions to army grooming policies expanded the number of hair styles women could adopt, including wearing their hair long.

In the past women with longer hair had to tie it in buns, which many said was uncomfortable and interfered with their helmets.

Under the new policy, long hair needs to be worn in ponytails or braids in training and tactical situations.

A broadening of styles especially accommodated African American female soldiers, who wanted more options for wearing their hair, in braids and other styles.

They can also wear two styles at once — braids and twists, for example.

Whatever they do, it has to fit smoothly inside a combat helmet.

And, on the other end of policy, women who want to shave their heads — the way some male soldiers do — are now permitted. Before they had to maintain a minimum hair length.

The women soldiers can also now wear nail polish and lipstick while on the job, but not in colors considered extreme — like blue, black, “fire-engine red”, violet and flourescent.

Extreme nail lengths and styles — think stiletto — are also no-nos.

Likewise with hair color: it has to be natural-looking, with no extremes like pink, green, and blue. For those who do color their hair, roots in different colors longer than 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) are prohibited.

Stud earrings are permitted on bases but banned in field training and combat.

The changes are the result of a review launched last year under previous defense secretary Mark Esper, part of an examination of racial discrimination and mistreatment of minorities in the military.

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