We want beards, sailors tell the US Navy after it allows women to sport ponytails | world news | Hindustan Times
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We want beards, sailors tell the US Navy after it allows women to sport ponytails

The Navy recently permitted servicewomen to sport ponytails, lock hairstyles, or ropelike strands, and wider hair buns, reversing a policy that long forbade females from letting their hair down. Servicemen immediately chimed in on social media, asking the Navy if they could grow beards.

world Updated: Jul 20, 2018 20:09 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press
Associated Press
Beards,US Navy,Ponytails
Beards were banned in 1984. The Navy wanted professional-looking sailors who could wear firefighting masks and breathing apparatuses without interference.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Now that women in the Navy can wear ponytails, men want beards.

The Navy said last week that servicewomen could sport ponytails, lock hairstyles, or ropelike strands, and wider hair buns, reversing a policy that long forbade females from letting their hair down.

Servicemen immediately chimed in on social media, asking the Navy if they could grow beards. A sailor’s Facebook post with a #WeWantBeards hashtag was shared thousands of times.

Beards were banned in 1984. The Navy wanted professional-looking sailors who could wear firefighting masks and breathing apparatuses without interference.

The Navy says that’s still the case. Still, some hope the change in female grooming standards opens the door.

Travis Rader, a 29-year-old naval physical security officer, said allowing beards would boost morale for men, just like allowing ponytails and locks has for women. There are two things that would make many Navy men happy: beards and better boots, he added.

In this circa 1890 photo provided by the Naval History and Heritage Command, seven members of US Navy sit together aboard the USS Enterprise in New York. Though the Navy said in July 2018 that its servicewomen could wear longer hairstyles, servicemen have not been permitted to wear beards, which were banned in 1984. (AP)

Rader had a 6-inch-long beard when he joined the Navy after high school.

“You take something away from somebody, and they want it more,” said Rader, a master-at-arms assigned to Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City.

The Navy announced it was adding grooming options for women during a Facebook Live event. Many black women had asked the Navy to be more inclusive of different hair textures. The Navy had the standards in place because of safety concerns and to ensure everyone maintained a uniform, professional look.

Rader was one of several sailors who wrote in the comments section of the Facebook Live event to press for beards. Bill Williams, a 20-year-old naval information systems technician, commented too, asking why sailors can’t have beards if bearded civilian firefighters wear masks.

Williams said he thinks a nice, well-groomed beard looks very professional.

“It’d be great because I know that when I shave for multiple days in a row, it starts to really hurt,” said Williams, who works at the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station Hampton Roads in Virginia.

In this June 20, 1942 photo provided by the Naval History and Heritage Command, Howard Curtis, a US Navy second-class aerographer, wears a seven-month's beard at Dutch Harbor, Alaska. (AP)

Sailors can get permission to grow a beard for religious reasons or if they have a skin condition that’s irritated by shaving. Mustaches are allowed as long as they are trimmed and neat.

“Handlebar mustaches, goatees, beards or eccentricities are not permitted,” the policy states. The Navy isn’t currently considering changing that.

Safety continues to be the primary concern, said Lt. j.g. Stuart Phillips, a spokesman for the chief of naval personnel. He referenced a 2016 study by the Naval Safety Center, which concluded that facial hair affects the proper fit and performance of respirators.

First Published: Jul 20, 2018 10:32 IST