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Behind the Braids: Reservists play key role in first women’s hair policy change in 70 years

Reserve Airmen have been instrumental in helping bring about the first major change in the Air Force’s women’s hair policy since the late 1940s.

As an outcome of the 101st Air Force uniform board, Air Force women will be able to wear their hair in up to two braids or a single ponytail with bulk not exceeding the width of the head and length not extending below a horizontal line running between the top of each sleeve inseam at the under arm through the shoulder blades. In addition, women’s bangs may now touch their eyebrows, but not cover their eyes.

These new changes will be effective upon publication of the new standards in Air Force Instruction 36-2903, Feb. 10.

Maj. Alea Nadeem, a Reserve Airman who serves as the leader of the Air Force Women’s Initiative Team, played a key role in bringing about the hair policy change.

“The Women’s Initiative Team works to remove barriers for Airmen so they can continue to serve successfully and uses a common-sense approach to change outdated policies,” she said. “The women’s hair policy has been on the WIT’s radar for a number of years.”