Sunday, February 14, 2021

Small Change, Big Impact


Free the bun! This was the community wide call this week in the Air Force Women Officer's Forum that I am privileged to be a member of. The joy, giddiness, and sweet stories and pictures this week as women with long hair freed the bun was wonderful.

For my non-military readers, some background. Women in the US Air Force must wear their hair either short (above the bottom of the collar) or if long, put up in a bun. I read somewhere that this standard was an effort, when women first entered the military, to ensure they were feminine enough but not so feminine as to tempt husbands to misbehave. Nice. The problem for most women with long hair is that when you have your hair in a tight bun, 40 plus hours a week, you often suffer headaches and scalp issues. And buns don't really work with curly hair. Additionally, protective gear like helmets don't fit as they should. 

This week, the Air Force regulations finally changed to allow braids and pony tails. It seems like such a minor thing (not to discount the 5 years of work many did to make it happen) but the impact is so much more.

It means that women feel seen and heard. It is recognition of the diversity of individuals that make up the Air Force. It gives back precious time to women that before was spent wrestling their hair up into a painful hairstyle. 

What I love the most is how a small thing - tossing the bobby pins and sock bun thingys - has gone a long way to inclusiveness.

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