According to Military Times, 12-year U.S. Navy sailor Jessica Sims has been honorably discharged after failing to adhere to Navy grooming standards by keeping her loc hairstyles. She refused to abide by their wishes to cut her locs because it amounted to shaving them off and wearing a wig.

The regulations include the following:

  • No portion of the bulk of the hair as measured from the scalp shall exceed approximately 2 inches.
  • Hair shall not fall below a horizontal line level with the lower edge of the back of the collar as indicated by line A.  When wearing jumper uniforms, hair can extend a maximum of 1-1/2 inches below the top of the jumper collar.

It appears in her photo and for the past 12 years that her locs were in compliance. According to the U.S. Navy grooming regulations, “widely spaced individual hanging locks, and braids which protrude from the head, are not authorized” Sims says, her locs are closely spaced and worn in a bun, so she is not violating any regulations.

The U.S. Navy also states: “appropriateness of a hairstyle shall also be judged by its appearance when headgear is worn. All headgear shall fit snugly and comfortably around the largest part of the head without distortion or excessive gaps.” Sims told the Navy Times that when it comes to headgear, she ensures that her bun doesn’t protrude more than two inches from her head and she has never had a problem wearing safety helmets or gas masks.

As stated by military officials, it is “important to keep uniformity”, and rightly so. But, as demonstrated in this case, if ones hair is kempt, they can fit the headgear and their hairstyle does not get in the way of their jobs, the conflict at hand becomes irrelevant. The fact that Navy officials updated their regulations as to not seem bias towards African Americans, yet still refuse to abide by those new regulations simply because she acted “unlawfully” to the old, biased rules, is really disheartening. It seems as though some, are more focused on making a point and standing their ground than taking other’s opinions and well-being into account.

What is most evident in this case is that the biased uniformity that is required is more of an indication that you looking different, even if your hair is neat and doesn’t get in the way of your job, makes some feel uncomfortable. Fear is the root to any kind of discrimination but those with natural hair can’t spend their lives trying to make others feel more comfortable. Instead, you can only be you and hope the rest will catch up.

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