New hair regulations in U.S. Army are root of anger for many women

(WJLA) - At Beyond Hair and Braids, located less than a mile from Fort Belvoir Army Base, the new regulations have been the root of a lot of anger.

This 13-year Army vet, who did not want to be identified, says that the new guidelines will have a huge impact on black women serving in the Army:

"Who's setting these policies? Are they African-American? Have they been in combat to actually have to do their hair at 3 a.m.?"

The Army updated Army Regulation 670-1 just this Monday, which includes a long list of regulations regarding tattoos, hairstyles, and grooming.

"Our army has always prided itself on military appearance, its uniforms, and proper grooming," said the Secretary of the U.S. Army.

But its these rules about hair that are raising controversy. Women are now banned from having twists, braids, and cornrows – which many black women say is the easiest way to handle hair with their texture.

"If we wear our hair like this and you're rolling around in the mud and you're shooting a weapon off and you take your helmet off, it won't look like this," explained the veteran.

A survey found that 31-percent of women in the military are black, and a third of African-American women wear their hair naturally.

Hairstylist Simone Ambrose has several female soldier clients:

“Women are really upset about how they have to wear their hair now, because they were already limited to what they had to do before," she said.

An online White House petition is now asking for the rules to be changed, and has already received more than 7,000 signatures in two days. Petitioners are calling the guidelines “racially biased.”

"Braiding definitely is easier, it's more manageable, and to limit those hairstyles, I think is wrong," said the veteran.