United Kingdom

RAF will allow ponytails, buns, cornrows and plaits for the first time under new rules

Women serving in the RAF can now wear their hair in a ponytail, plait or cornrows, it was announced yesterday.

The dress code – which previously stated that women could tie their hair back only in a bun – was changed to better reflect modern society, the force said.

They can now opt for a single ponytail or plait that can reach down to the top of their belts.

It comes after a policy change in October last year to allow canerows, cornrows, twists and braids to reflect the diversity of the air force while upholding ‘excellent appearance standards’.

However, some roles will still require women to tie their hair up, such as medical personnel when they are in clinical situations, for occupational and safety reasons.

The force also added that whatever style is chosen, it must allow service-issued headdress to be worn correctly.

Women serving in the RAF can now wear their hair in a ponytail, plait or cornrows, it was announced yesterday

It comes after a policy change in October last year to allow canerows, cornrows, twists and braids to reflect the diversity of the air force while upholding ‘excellent appearance standards’

Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston yesterday tweeted that the change will modernise the RAF.

He said: ‘There will be more announcements on uniform and appearance in due course but, with this change to appearance policies for women, we have made a symbolic and widely welcomed step towards the next generation of Royal Air Force.

‘We are modernising our appearance policies to better reflect the society we serve, empowering people with choice, but maintaining the values and high standards we expect from anyone in Royal Air Force uniform.’

The policy change has come into immediate effect and it applies to all serving women including regular, reserves and female air cadets.

It comes as the British Army also announced similar changes yesterday. It said: ‘In working dress, servicewomen’s hair can be worn in a bun, ponytail, plait or cornrows.’

Female soldiers also had to opt for buns despite their male counterparts being allowed other styles, including dreadlocks.

The Army and the air force uploaded images of accepted hairstyles to their social media accounts yesterday.

The RAF in 2019 said men could grow beards with the permission of their commanding officer.

It said at the time: ‘Only full beards that are kept short and neatly trimmed will be permitted.’

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