Women’s hair needs to be non-faddish, non-masculine, and practical (wash & wear with no need for gels, sprays, or fasteners). Hair should be neat and not extend below the collar. The most practical options for someone with straight hair are a pageboy (chin-length blunt cut) or a chilibowl (cheek length blunt cut with close cropped hair under the cheek line) . Unfortunately, regs don’t define “faddish” or “masculine”. Most of my NCO’s considered anything shorter than 1 foot long to be faddish. “Neat” applies after 8 hours of grimy manual labor. Also, shaving the 2-or-3 inch long wispy, curly hairs on the back of my neck that simply won’t stay put was considered faddish and/or masculine. Whatever haircut you chose, it will be wrong. Wear what you are comfortable with, and when someone yells at you try to ignore them.
I was a CJ, College Junior. I also was on the swim team in college. If my hair touched my ear a bubble would form over my ear during a flip turn. I would become disoriented underwater in a race. My hair did not touch my ear. When I arrived at WAC Officer Basic, I was ordered to grow my hair. I was selected to be the model for a recruiting poster. I had to wear a wig. I was glad my hair was short. I could get my field protective mask on in 5 seconds. In the field exercises, I could assist my classmates with longer hair to get a good seal.
Long, Extra Thick, Curly Hair — It’s Possible to Keep It
When I went to basic training in 1994, I was so scared that I would have to cut off my hair. I have extremely thick, naturally curly hair. My hair was short in high school and I had the Afro-style look from the seventies. (Not by choice) Weight from the length was the only thing that helped make my hair look normal. All throughout basic, the drill sergeants gave me grief because I did not know how to wear my hair and it always looked awful. It was too thick to put into one pony-tail or bun. After reaching my permanent duty station, I started playing with my hair and I finally figured out a way to wear my hair within regulation. I divided my hair in half and put the top thicker half in a pony-tail and the bottom thinner half in a separate pony-tail. I then divided the top pony-tail in half again, braiding the two-halves and tying them off. I also divided the bottom pony-tail into two halves and braided them. I then gathered all four braids and wrapped a band around all of them twice, sort of like another pony-tail. I pulled it tight up toward the top of my head. I then took each separate braid, wrapped it around the base of the top initial pony-tail until it couldn’t wrap anymore and pinned it neatly against my head with bobby-pins. Each one being wrapped in a separate direction to even it out. Sort of like…… wrap “braid one” around the base of the top pony-tail to the left and then wrap “braid two” around the base to the right and so on. It all sounds difficult, but if you have the same problem that I did, follow this procedure step by step with someone assisting you, and you will be surprised how nice it looks. Eventually you will have it down to a science and you will be able to do it without a mirror. It’s difficult to wear a kevlar helmet and it’s hard to get a good seal in a chemical mask. But if you aren’t expecting to have a job near a hazardous area and want to keep your hair, this is how to fix it. If it’s done neatly, it doesn’t look faddish and the optical illusion actually makes it look longer than it is. Try it, you’ll like it.
Leave It Long
I will just start by saying that my hair is past the small of my back, however in having it for so long I have perfected the art of typing it back in a bun within 20 seconds. People have told me to cut it short for Basic training, but they were wrong, I had less problems with my foot long hair, because it stayed back and did not interfere with training, whereas the short haired females constantly had to push it out of their face and often were yelled at. In the end, the drill sergeant told me “at first I thought that you were going to be problems with all that hair, but you did good”. So ladies if you have long hair and don’t spend hours doing it, then leave it be, in the end it may actually be helpful.
By Choice and I Still Don’t Regret It
I had hair down to the small of my back and I had been given mixed advice on if I should cut my hair or not. In the end I decided to have it cut to the middle of my ear. When I got to basic training the only female drill sergeant in the company saw the way I wore my hair. Needless to say she got on my case as I had been wearing it pulled back by a ponytail on either side of my face. It wasn’t long enough to pull into a ponytail on the top of my head so I was forced to eat hair for a few months until it grew long enough to pull it up. I still don’t regret cutting it though it will probably take another year to grow out to were it was.
African-American Women: Do Not Cut Your Hair!
I went through Air Force Basic Training in Feb of 1998. I was told that it would be a little easier to go through basic if I had a shorter cut. Well, the recruiter I had was dead wrong. Instead of having time to curl my hair with hot curlers, I had to gel it down and wear what seemed like a concrete helmet on my head for just about the whole six weeks. I could have just kept the hair that I had, which was just a little below my ear, pulled it up in a pony tail, and be done with it. If you are still set on getting a hair cut, wait until after basic training where you have real time to do your hair in a more attractive manner. But on a happier note: After wearing my hair full of gel for the six weeks, it did grow about two inches!!
Hair is Nothing But Trouble
When I left for basic training at Ft. Sill almost two years ago I decided to chop off all my hair and donate the foot-long rope to children with cancer. This short hairstyle worked perfectly for training, although my boyfriend told me I looked like my brother and my drill sergeants told me I need to grow it out. I was recycled to Ft. Jackson to do basic over for medical reasons last summer, and by this time my hair had grown to shoulder-length. If at all possible, never go through military training with shoulder-length hair. It wouldn’t stay up in a single ponytail, and I was threatened with an article 15 for wearing two ponytails. When I tried using multiple rubberbands across my head I was chastised for looking too conspicuous. I was stopped during my push-ups on a PT test for a lecture on my hair! I secretly cut my hair at night in the latrine (“barracks barbers” can be awarded an article 15 if caught) so I could pull the top half into a ponytail and leave the bottom hanging down. Even this style didn’t always work because my kevlar pressed the rubberband into my head and pulled my hair out when I changed head gear. I can almost pull it up in a bun now, but if I ever get called to war I’m going GI Jane.
Today’s military women are lucky that they are able to keep their hair long. When I enlisted in 1970, hair could not touch our collars. We were not allowed to use barrettes and any bobby pins or other items that were allowed had to match the color of our hair. I had my hair cut very short before I went to boot camp, so I was able to avoid the assembly line that all the other girls in my company went through. Their hair was really chopped. I was able to avoid the hair cut until the last week I was in boot. I finally had to go to the salon, but only had to have a half inch taken off to be legal.
I Kept My Hair
I went through Army Basic Training during the summer of 1997. I had long, thick hair (to the middle of my back) and I was worried that it would be difficult keeping it up because it was so heavy. I thought about cutting it, but I couldn’t bear to. When I arrived at the Reception Station, I saw that the majority of the female recruits had long hair, and seeing them made me feel better. I didn’t have any problems keeping my hair up, nor did the rest of the girls. I find that it’s harder to keep my hair up now that it’s about shoulder length. When it was longer I was able to wrap it around itself in a bun. The biggest hair problem I have is when I’m wearing a kevlar. The straps and headband rub against my head and cause the hair to break. I get upset when this happens, but in this case it wouldn’t matter if my hair was long or short because the breakage is so close to my head. Even though it’s against regulations, I wear a bandana under my kevlar and it seems to help.
Don’t Cut Your Hair
I’m a cadet at West Point, and many female cadets here (myself included) cut their hair before they came for basic. All of us regret it now because it is so much easier to just pull your hair back in a bun. Guys in the military can be pretty down on female soldiers and if you have long hair you can just feel so much more feminine. So ladies keep your hair and be proud of being a woman in the military!
The Experience My Hair Went Through in BMT (USAF)
I was in Air Force Basic Training in July of 2001 and was never told I needed to cut my hair. This is not required in the air force, just as long as hair is above neck line and neat in appearance. Putting my hair up is easy, so I didn’t think cutting it would not be necessary. I dye my hair from brown to a nice, but light, blonde and have been doing so, for several years. I take extra special care of my hair and use exceptional conditioners to keep it from looking fried. For about six years before I left for the Air Force, I had long hair ; it was midway down my back. My hair is not the thickest in the world and is somewhat thin, but once again, I take care of it so that it is not a tacky, straggly, type of thin. Off I went to boot camp with my 2in1 conditioner/shampoo. I thought that this would be more than sufficient and aid in the lack of time I knew that I would have for showers. I completely misjudged the situation. The thirty second showers ( as you probably all too well know ) are not used to wash hair, but simply to dampen it. This, combined with the hairspray that I used to keep my flyaways out of my face, was not good for my hair. As the days passed, whenever I took my hair out of my tight, stiff bun, larger and larger clumps would be attached to the hairband. When I actually DID wash my hair in a shower, giant patches of hair would run all the way down my body and plop to the floor. Combing my hair would produce the same, if not worse, effect. My hair was falling out so badly, that when let down, it looked like a bizarre mullet. Needless to say, I cut my hair ; it ended up being about a foot of hair that they took off. I had it done at the barber shop on base and it was the worst cut I have ever had! I cried when nobody else was looking, later that night. Had I known that my hair was going to fall out, I would have had it professional done at home. I am somewhat girlie and am picky about my hair. I was so upset! Several TIs even noticed when I cut my hair and in their gruff manner sympathized with me. I got over it very quickly, however and my hair is growing out just fine now.
I just thought that I would share my story for anybody trying to decide if cutting their hair before BMT is appropriate. Realize that hair, along with every other part of the body, is put under a lot of stress.
I had to chop my hair off – Navy Basic Training!
My hair was fairly long, almost to the middle of my back, and I didn’t really want to cut it. My recruiter advised me to get it cut before I went because they’d just whack it off. So I called my friend (the world’s best hairdresser) and had her cut it short, layer it, and put some subtle highlights in my already blonde hair. It really does look great, but I miss my hair…. I guess it is a very small price to pay for all I’ll get in return!:) After all it is just hair, and it will grow back!