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Kim Andrews' hair issue with the Air Force

Does This Woman Look Professional to You?

When you look at this woman, what do you see? A young Air Force officer, maybe? Someone serving her country in the military? Someone who looks neat, polished, and put together? That's what I see.

But according to Treasured Locks, the military disagrees. This soldier, Kim Andrews, has been in the Air Force for seven years, but her mother says she's being threatened with a dishonorable discharge because of her hairstyle, which involves twisting her hair into cornrows, a style that's allowed in the Air Force. Dreadlocks aren't allowed, and apparently Kim's commander thinks they're dreadlocks. Here's an excerpt from the military code:

Braids, micro-braids, and cornrows are authorized. However, must be solid color similar to the individual’s hair color; conservative and not present a faddish appearance, be worn in an extreme or fad style, or violate safety requirements.

I've looked at a gallery of Kim's hairstyle, and I don't see any evidence of an "extreme or fad style." In every instance it looks natural, practical, and professional. Afrobella puts it best when she asks, "Don’t we need professionally-trained military officials now, more than ever? Why would anyone give sisters in the military grief over their hair?" Good question. What do you think?

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angel_fire angel_fire 8 years
I think she looks very professional and put together. How sad is our military to threaten a dishonorable discharge over the appearence of her hair? It seems to me someone has a problem with her as an individual (whatever the reason may be) and using her personal appearence as an excuse, a poor one at that. Military or not prejudice is unacceptable anywhere. Someone also needs to send her superior officer a picture book on what corn rows and micro braids actually look like.
leanneluvsu leanneluvsu 8 years
I think everyone here believes that most black hairstyles are Fad-ish. they really are not to arise political unrest, but for care of black hair. Because black hair is more delicate, there are certain measures and precautions that have to be taken to keep the health of black hair. Putting hair in dreads is one of them. Also, to punish her for her dreds is encouraging her to go relax her hair. Relaxing is a tedious process and if you know nothing about caring for chemically-processed hair, then it will fall right out. I mean, literally. I'm not saying that non-black hair is easier to care for or better. I'm sure everyone has their issues. But, if a Huge messy chigion is not considered a "fad", but a neccessary technique to protect the glory of your hair, then why should ethnic hairdos be considered the oppposite? What? Because it insights a stereotypical image of the pro-black intellectuals or panthers? Or maybe a "strait outta da hood" guttersnipe with too much lip? Candy... I think you're comments are teterring the line. No matter how you spin it, they were wrong and racist.
leanneluvsu leanneluvsu 8 years
For black women, its more than just hair. Dreadlocks can sometimes represent personality or dedication to heritage. Heck! Even religion. Its unfair to say that someone's hair is unattractive. Also, its bordering too close to the "if it's not straight then it's not pretty" idealogy that plagues America. Most people associate straight hair with other whites or asians, and to insult a black woman's hair because it doesn't fit the mold is pretty much insulting her race. Also, braids are not fad-ish. They are for personal hygiene and coiff maintaince. Its more complex than most dare to think.
jennifer76 jennifer76 8 years
I suppose that's actually Treasured Locks saying that, more so than Kim Andrews saying that.
jennifer76 jennifer76 8 years
Bella - I said Kim Andrews readily admits that her hair is in locs not braids From the original post... From Kim's mom: her hair was started off by coil twists and she has been cornrowing her hair in uniform From Treasured Locks: Locks (we hate the term dreadlocks) can be created in several different ways....Techniques such as the one Kim has used have left her with a neat, clean, manageable hair style.....Kim’s locks were created by coil twists which are neat and uniform (pun intended).
Beauty Beauty 8 years
Jennifer76, where does Kim Andrews say that her hair is in dreadlocks? I've scoured the original post and can't find that.
AucuneRancune AucuneRancune 8 years
This is very maddening indeed.
candace117 candace117 8 years
"Afrobella puts it best when she asks, "Don’t we need professionally-trained military officials now, more than ever? Why would anyone give sisters in the military grief over their hair?" Yes, she puts it best when she asks this question. Let's respond to that. Yes, we do need professional, well-trained officers to lead our enlisted troops (though any officer worth their salt knows that they need bonafide NCO's to support them and lead as well). We need professional officers that put the mission and troop morale over their own needs and beliefs. This issue is taking away from what may have made Kim Andrews a good officer, and unfortunately this negative attention is making her look less professional. Her behavior is that of a private at basic training, not of an officer that is responsible for others. If anybody I worked with was acting like this - male, female, black, white, etc...I would NOT be okay with it. No matter who it was. Making a situation personal and about your own feelings takes away from everyone else's efforts and sacrifice. How unbelievably selfish, it's behavior unbecoming of an officer. In the letter her mother wrote, she stated that this regulation came into effect a year ago - unforutnately that is inaccurate as I went to basic training almost 5 years ago and that regulation was in place back then as well(that is the Army, though, and I'm sure the Air Force has something else in place that may have a more recent change, so I may be wrong). If my mother wrote a letter like this one trying to get publicity for this issue, I would be upset, just as if I were Cindy Sheehan's son, I would be upset that she was using my death as a political tool instead of letting me die honorably. There are those of you that don't understand why, and never will...but you aren't serving alongside me. And it is fine, because I will continue to serve to preserve your right to think whatever you want.
candace117 candace117 8 years
WOW. this thread has mentally exhausted me. The civilians responding are speaking their opinions, which is great. The only problem is, they aren't bothering to understand or listen to the things that the SM's are saying in regards to what the regulations are and the interpretation by each CO of the regulations. You do not have to agree with the regs, you can think the CO is stupid or that Kim Andrews is a heroine, whatever you want. But the point is, the regs don't care what you think about them. The regs are there, and a chain of command exists for a reason. You don't like any of that? Then there's a good reason for you to never serve your country in the armed forces. I typed some long stories but decided to not post them because I don't really think it would help anybody understand. I was drawing comparisons between me and another soldier coming under fire for our hair. Mine was because of a student leader at AIT having a big head and thinking he knew it all, the other was at basic - the female had the same issue as Kim Andrews and threw a big hissy fit about it, even though black Drill Sergeants talked to her and were respectful about it until she called them Uncle Toms. When she was threatened with disciplinary action and had it explained to her how this may affect her military career before it even started, she stopped being selfish and shaved her head. The bottom line is cultures don't matter to the military. Everyone has to give up a piece of themselves to join the military and plenty of other people suffer for other reasons, but they don't complain about it because they'd rather serve honorably and not disrespect the institution that they CHOSE to serve in. Nobody twisted Kim Andrews' arm to join, and if she had a problem she could have waited to ETS with an honorable discharge instead of deciding to fight it and have a dishonorable discharge on her DD 214 - which never goes away, and has a big bearing on your civilian employment. If you think hair standards for women are ridiculous - look at the facial hair regulations for men. They can have a mustache but it must be trimmed to an exact measurement above their lip and tapered to the end of the mouth in a very specific way. It looks gross on most men and too hard to maintain so most men just stay clean shaven. Bottom line is, you can criticize the standards that have been in place, but if you aren't in the military and living under them, what is your problem? All of us that are in understand exactly what we got into and even if we think certain regs are dumb, we follow them anyway and have respect for our chain of command...because we have no other choice and don't want to be selfish. It takes away from the mission and it dishonors the other men and women that you serve with. Nobody is thinking about Kim Andrews' unit now, the other men and women that are busting their rear ends day in and out, she's got the attention on her undeservedly. It's selfish and I can't understand, even as another woman, why she would want to have this happen. There are many, many other black women in the service that may have a tough time with their hair but find a way to make it stay within regs. The only thing I can think of is that she values her own feelings more than her unit's overall mission and that other airmen are relying on her to do her job well. And people with that attitude get others killed, so maybe it is better that she gets out.
redegg redegg 8 years
Jen76, I agree with you. I think the facts of this case in its entirety were not posted and will never be posted. It was presented in a biased way, with only one side of the story being told and it is really surprising to me with it containing so many emotionally charged issues.
spiceG spiceG 8 years
i am disgusted with this issue. simply disgusted.
jennifer76 jennifer76 8 years
And, when I say that its irrelevant whether or not braids are faddish, I mean that the military agrees that they aren't. Braids and cornrows are specifically authorized.
jennifer76 jennifer76 8 years
I think this discussion would be a lot more fruitful if the original post stated the facts of the case as they are. This post implies that her commander wrongly believes her braids to be dreads, when in fact Kim Andrews readily admits that her hair is in locs not braids. The post cuts out the relevant part of the code Dreadlocks are not authorized.. And the post focuses on whether or not her hair looks professional or faddish, when neither are the substance of her commander's complaint. As it is, people are wasting their time arguing irrelevant points - like whether or not braids are faddish. If the facts were as they were presented in this post, I would agree with most of you that her commander's complaint seems arbitrary and possibly racially driven. But, the facts are that she specifically has an unauthorized hairstyle and is refusing to comply with the regulation. I think Treasured Locks makes some good arguments on why the regulation itself should be changed to allow locs, but I can also see how a totally permanent hairstyle that can't be altered in any way could cause problems.
Seraphim Seraphim 8 years
this is extremely upsetting to me that this is even an issue!!! i'm disgusted...
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 8 years
Hmmm she looks professional to me...
terrywagner123 terrywagner123 8 years
Well, this has been fried, dyed and laid to the side. I'm out. meow
mbrown81 mbrown81 8 years
Well this certainly has got people all worked up. I'm not trying to offend any one, but she needs to comply with the rules and get over it. For all of you who think this is a race thing I believe you should get past it. If her CO gives her an order to change her hair she needs to just do it, or accept the consequence. I think this is more of a hissy fit rather then an actuall issue on her hair. Boo hoo. She knew what she was doing when she enlisted. Deal with it.
waterbaby waterbaby 8 years
I was an officer in the Navy. There are just rules you have to follow. When I chopped my hair for plebe summer the following year was awful, I used more mousse, hairspray and bobby pins than I ever thought possible, but my hair had to be within regulations. After spring break I had highlights, as did other guys in my company and we all had to dye our hair to our original color...you can't have 'faddish' hair color. It's the military, when you sign up you should realize that you lose a certain amount of individualism. I don't know the regs on braids in your hair, but geez, if my bun wasn't perfect I had to fix it...you just have to go with it until you get out.
itsallabouttheg itsallabouttheg 8 years
i haven't worn braids in well over a decade, but those are definitely not braids! i get the impression military codes says braids are ok, but everything else is not. since her hair is twisted into cornrows she is in violation. however, this situation might be cause to revise policy to include neat hairstyles that aren't braids per se.
swtsunkisses88 swtsunkisses88 8 years
I agree with swangeese as well. Also I do think that is disgraceful of our nation's institutions to discriminate against her over such a small matter. Arent there bigger fish to fry??? To me I feel like they are just looking for something, ANYTHING, to charge against her. poor girl :(
bittie bittie 8 years
Maybe she should just cut a few inches off, so the bun is less bulky? The first time I heard about this case, there were only pictures of the front of the hairstyle, so I thought they were being ridiculous and biased. But now that I see she has quite a bit of hair in the back, maybe that's what it's about (back to someone else's comment about women's hair having to either fit under a cap or otherwise be easily 'contained,' for lack of a better word...)
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