More Hairstyles Allowed for Women Soldiers

A restyled Army policy giving women more choice about how they wear their hair while on duty has been given the thumbs-up from personnel.

They say the move – which will see soldiers deviate from the hitherto approved bun – will improve comfort and allow kit to fit more snugly. Unless they are at high-profile parades or other occasions, women will now be permitted to have a single ponytail, braid or plait, corn plaits, rows or an Afro.

Army chiefs have stressed that the changes will not lower standards but “provide individuals with greater choice reflecting the needs of our diverse workforce”. The move also brings the Service into line with the Royal Navy, which announced its policy shift in May.

Major Vanessa Freestone (Royal Signals) believes the changes will be backed by troops – while making the Service more appealing to joiners. She told Soldier: “There are times when wearing your hair in a bun is not practical. Most Servicewomen will be sensible enough to know which style is appropriate at any given time – they will definitely welcome more choice.”

WO2 Sheridan Lucas (RLC) – who assisted the first women heading for ground close combat roles at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick – agreed change was needed. While she pointed out that hair could be plaited to fit helmets robustly during training activities, she highlighted that amending the policy was helpful. WO2 Lucas added: “Long hair once had to both be tied back and placed in a hairnet, but that requirement has gone over the years. “People have all kinds of different styles so my view would be to allow the changes – just as long as hair is consistently kept neat and tidy.”


Soldier. (2021) Style Selection Signed Off. Soldier: Magazine of the British Army. August 2021, pp.17.


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