As any reader of Vogue well knows, images of hairstyles, beauty, and style in general commonly populate within its glossy pages. But on Wednesday (August 24), the magazine ran an online feature about one burgeoning hair trend that has an importance far beyond the sartorial.
Titled “New Order,” the feature highlights the growing numbers of Black U.S. servicewomen who are embracing their natural hair for the first time since entering the military. Why the sudden evolution? In January of this year, the Army revised long-held grooming and appearance regulations that mandated straight hair. Under the former ordinance, all women with textured hair were required to straighten it if they wished to keep it long — resulting in many Black servicewomen being forced to choose between wearing uncomfortable wigs or undergoing regular, harsh chemical treatments.
“When I first came into the military, people would always say, ‘What’s the problem? Why can’t you just straighten your hair?’” Army Captain Deshauna Barber told Vogue. “I don’t think people realize requiring someone with curly hair to have straight hair is like requiring someone with straight hair to make their hair curly. When you’re repeatedly putting heat on textured hair, guess what? It falls out.”
As Vogue’s writer, Chioma Nnadi, pointed out, being forced to constantly straighten one’s hair isn’t only damaging to the hair itself; it also served as added pressure placed most squarely on Black servicewomen and was “only exacerbated by the challenges of life on the front line, where all members of the Army are pushed to their physical and mental limits.”
Understandably, Black women have been celebrating the repeal of this oppressive mandate — and we love that Vogue is celebrating alongside them. Check out some photos from the inspiring spread below!