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When we think of the military, we think of tough men. And yes, men make up the majority in this profession, but the US military wants to change that. To attract more women, the policy, including the rules on external grooming, has been changed. But whether that’s the way to attract women…
Lipstick and nail polish are no longer banned within the US military
Since February 25, the following rules apply to women in the army:
- Ladies may wear different hairstyles.
- If women don’t want to wear a bun, a ponytail is also allowed.
- On certain occasions, they may wear earrings.
- Solid nail polish and lipstick colors are allowed, provided they are not extreme.
- Soldiers who are breastfeeding or expressing milk may wear shirts under their uniform.
The military press release states that these rules promote and facilitate diversity, equality, and inclusion.
To be honest, I had to laugh a bit when I read this. Allowing women to wear makeup, different hairstyles, and earrings is not the way to achieve this. In fact, this achieves exactly the opposite. While women can enjoy these freedoms, men are only allowed to wear clear nail polish. Instead of giving people the freedom to express themselves, the difference between men and women is emphasized.
Another reason why this makes me laugh, or rather cry, is the stereotypical view of women. I see it happening so often: companies want more women in the workplace and are therefore allow (more) make-up. In some cases, even the uniforms are made more fashionable. For example, last year the Canadian army came up with the idea of shortening the skirts worn on formal occasions. Because current skirts are not fashionable enough. The leadership team genuinely believed that this would make women more likely to apply for a job in the military. As if women would rather work in a short skirt.
More is needed
Now the US military wants to attract women by allowing makeup, various hairstyles, and earrings. It is presented as a solution when it should be an afterthought. Allowing an undershirt for breastfeeding women is an important addition. This ensures that women have the right clothing to be able to do their job well. This is much more beneficial to women than permitting a layer of lipstick.
And if the army really wants to encourage diversity, they can better follow their British colleagues example. There, in 2019, an open discussion was held about male soldiers and their right to wear cosmetics. But concrete solutions are needed. For example, develop work clothes for pregnant women, just like the US Air Force. I am not saying that pregnant women should join the army. This is about your employer supporting the choices you make. And this is much more important than a layer of make-up.