Thursday marked the final day of mandated buns for soldiers as the Army announced that it will now permit ponytails for women, regardless of uniform.

The change, formalized in ALARACT 040/21, allows female troops to wear their hair in a single ponytail, a single braid, or two braids. The length must not extend below the bottom of the shoulder blades when the soldier is standing at the position of attention.

Commanders may direct soldiers to wear their ponytails tucked into their uniform blouses in environments where long hair would present a safety hazard, according to the ALARACT.

Army leaders lauded the change, which came after many soldiers criticized the restrictions on ponytail wear announced along with February’s updates to Army grooming standards.

“This new modification is more practical for our female soldiers. It allows them flexibility in a tactical environment, while maintaining a professional appearance in garrison,” said Army Sgt. Maj. Brian Sanders, Army G-1 Uniform Policy Branch Sergeant Major, to Army public affairs officials. “This change also helps to alleviate hair loss and damage to the scalp.”

A number of soldiers took to social media to discuss the decision, including Sgt. Major of the Army Michael Grinston, who offered a thorough explanation of the changes.

”We made initial changes in Feb after a DOD-mandated review of our policies,” Grinston said in a Thursday morning tweet. “Through feedback from the Force resulting in a clear, consolidated policy recommendation from a group of Soldiers, the Army has reconsidered the wear of ponytails.”

Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army. He focuses on investigations, personnel concerns and military justice. Davis, also a Guard veteran, was a finalist in the 2023 Livingston Awards for his work with The Texas Tribune investigating the National Guard's border missions. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill.

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