Navy changes hair, grooming policies to avoid perception of racial bias

Updated: May 11


The Navy will no longer have to worry about “good taste”… at least when it comes to grooming.

Navy leaders removed that term and others to avoid the “perception” of racial bias. It’s the Navy’s latest step to push for more inclusion and diversity, a goal outlined in Task Force One Navy.

AUSN spoke about the possible threat posed by this policy direction in an op-ed this week — read about it here.

The policy change is the result of a 2020 review that assessed whether the Navy’s hair and grooming policies might be racially biased. The Navy concluded the policies themselves were not biased, but said they were subjective and open to misinterpretation.

For example, the prior policy indicated that a Sailor’s hair should “complement the skin tone.” Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. John Nowell Jr. said this phrase opened the door to a misinterpretation that could be seen as racially biased.

“Some commanding officers might interpret the current language about skin tones, for example, to mean a black woman can’t have blond hair,” he said.

The Navy will eliminate eight terms from its grooming policy, sparing military leaders the possibility of misinterpreting them: faddish, good taste, eccentric/eccentricities, complement the individual, complement the skin tone, smartness, conspicuous/inconspicuous, and outrageous.

The Navy will revise the term “professional appearance,” and add three new terms: complementary appearance, professional military appearance, and uniform distraction.

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