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Air Force building more inclusive culture through Dress and Appearance updates

A photo of Airmen

Senior Airman Jaden Williams, 841st Missile Security Forces Squadron member, shares his experiences with racial inequality during a diversity discussion with Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Stephen W. Wilson, June 11, 2020, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. The diversity discussion included 21 Airmen ranging in rank from airman first class to lieutenant colonel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tristan Day)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) --

As part of the ongoing effort to build more inclusive Air and Space Forces, on July 10 the Department of the Air Force announced revisions to Air Force Instruction 36-2903, "Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel", which are effective immediately.

The changes, as outlined in an Air Force Guidance Memorandum dated July 1, 2020, include the removal of subjective language and other rules that may have been creating unintentional or unfair barriers for Air and Space Force uniformed members. 

“As we listened to Airmen and Space Professionals, we reviewed our policies and identified language in our dress and appearance instruction that was problematic for certain groups,” said Lisa Truesdale, Air Force deputy director of military force management policy. “Ensuring inclusive language in our policies is one of the first steps in creating a more inclusive culture where all uniformed members can thrive and maximize their fullest potential.”

The changes are: 

  • Individuals granted a shaving waiver may cut or trim their facial hair. In June 2020, the Air Force’s surgeon general extended approval for shaving waivers that now remain valid for up to five years, for Airmen and Space Professionals diagnosed with Pseudofolliculitis Barbae. PFB, also known as razor bumps, is a chronic inflammatory condition that occurs more frequently in African American males. While Airmen and Space Professionals who are diagnosed with PFB will continue treatment and education on how to improve and ultimately heal the condition, the dress and appearance verbiage allows them to more readily present a neat, clean, and professional image.
     
  • Removal of the word “faddish”, references to complexion and associated subjectivity. Airmen across the Total Force had provided feedback that the term “faddish” was subjective, and resulted in particular demographics being disproportionately caught up by the enforcement of those rules that included the term.
     
  • Name tapes/tags can include diacritical accent and hyphens, when it is a more accurate representation of a legal name and helps with pronunciation (e.g. Peña, Lewis-Miles, Müller, Calderón).
     
  • Authorization for male members to have one straight line part (cut, clipped, or shaved) on either side of their head. 
     
  • Removal of the restriction on combat boots height, acknowledging that some career fields require more flexibility.

For more information, Airmen should view Air Force Guidance Memorandum 2020-01 and check Air Force Instruction 36-2903 for updates, which are available on the public website of the Air Force’s Personnel Center at https://www.afpc.af.mil/Career-Management/Dress-and-Appearance/.

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