(Photo via Navy Times courtesy of Jessica Sims)
Just when we thought we were beginning to see the end of the “Natural Hair” bans in the military, Navy officials have announced a decision to give a 12-year African-American sailor the boot for failing to “obey an order” to cut off her natural hair (pictured above).
Yesterday Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (SW/AW) Jessica Sims told “Navy Times” that she will be honorably discharged from Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, Illinois after refusing to trim her locs. “The Navy confirmed her administrative separation proceedings on the basis of her hair, which she has been wearing in small, tightly wound dreadlocks twisted into a bun since 2005,” according to the Times. This report comes just one week after the military announced it was easing up on what many have called discriminatory hair guidelines that target African-American hairstyles and now allowing two-strand twists, locs, cornrows and other multiple hanging braids that are otherwise in regulation for length.
So how does one get discharged from the Navy for a hairstyle they’ve been wearing for nearly a decade? According to Sims her hair was never a problem until she got to her current station in Great Lakes. “Before her move to boot camp, she had spent seven years as an instructor at Naval Medicine Training Support Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, The Basic School at Quantico, Virginia, and Field Medical Service School at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina,” Navy Times reports. Shortly after she got to Great Lakes in April, Sims chain of command ordered her to cut her hair.
Officials ruled that Sims’ locks were out of regulation and that her bun was too bulky to be worn with a gas mask….even though she maintains her hair conformed to regulations requiring her hair stick out less than two inches from her hair and said she never had a problem wearing safety helmets or gas masks in the past. She made another (great) point that locs can absolutely be appropriate for the workplace: “To me, my natural hair is professional,” she said. “It’s all how you keep yourself up. I could just have a regular bun and not take care of that and it could look unprofessional.” For those reasons Sims decided that, no, she would not comply with the Navy’s repeated requests to cut her hair.
“I don’t think I should be told that I have to straighten my hair in order to be within what they think the regulations are, and I don’t think I should have to cover it up with a wig,” she said. “I am happy that I took the stand that I did…I would do it again if I had to.”
Have you ever changed your hair to be “in compliance” at work or walked away from a job because you refused to alter your hair? Tell us about it.
15 Natural Hair Vloggers You Should Be Following
It's hard to believe that Taren Guy launched her YouTube channel only five years ago. Since then, she's garnered 18 million views and over 450,000 fans on social media. Her genuine spirit and iconic afro has made her one of the most prominent figures in the natural hair community. Taren launched the international "Luv & Learn Your Hair (LLYH)" tour to encourage hair acceptance. LLYH Kids is up next!
With over 32 million views, Whitney, known to her fans as Naptural85, has charmed the natural hair community with her awe-worthy hairstyles, easygoing personality and natural beauty. Launching in 2009, her channel was one of the only places women with 4a curls could go to see a vlogger with a similar hair type. Now, the Naptural85 brand has evolved to include DearNaptural85, her new lifestyle channel.
Over 80,000 subscribers tune in daily to Ms. Vaughn's videos about natural hair, style and beauty. The Chicago-bred vlogger, whose sister Meechy Monroe vlogs as well, started her channel to share her hair techniques with friends and family. To her surprise, her first video went viral. The rest is history: she now boasts over 3 million views on her channel and a significant following on social media to boot.
One half of the Monroe sisters, Tameka, better known as Meechy Monroe, achieved a viral presence on YouTube only a few months after she joined. She now has more than 30,000 subscribers and a website, MeechyMonroe.com, where she shares her thoughts on everything from fashion and hair to nutrition and health.
Chime Edwards, who goes by the name 'HairCrush,' couldn't have picked a better moniker. There are few people in the natural hair community who don't crush on her glamorously long, full natural curls. Her legions of fans (142,000 subscribers and 24,000 Instagram fans, to be exact) follow every step of her hair journey, and also love her sense of style and sound spiritual advice.
With over 23 million views combined on her YouTube channels, Chescaleigh is a name you need to know. Franchesca Ramsey, the actress/comedian behind the brand, created Chescalocs to share her 9 year locs journey and deliver hairstyle ideas and styling advice to her devout following. Four million views later, Chescalocs is a force to be reckoned with in the natural hair community.
Two best friends turned icons changed the conversation around natural hair with the launch of their online publication, UrbanBushBabes.com. Nikisha (left) and Cipriana don’t only share natural hair styles and techniques with their readers but they wax poetic on the growth of the movement as a whole, thus defining the culture and pushing it forward.
Boasting 2 million views on her YouTube channel, Fran of Hey Fran Hey marries natural hair with natural living. She covers DIY beauty, natural hair care and nutrition with a Boho twist for her dedicated following. Fran is as famous for her svelte and curvy frame as she is for her tresses, making her an online icon for fitness as well as hair.
Mae started NaturalChica.com in July 2009 to share her own natural hair journey with the world and has since turned her online space into a platform to “encourage, inspire and motivate.” With hundreds of thousands of subscribers to her YouTube channel, Mae has accomplished her goal and then some.
You may recognize Charnika Jett's face from your natural hair supplies. Chary Jay graces the front of the Huetiful steamer box. Her fans, who voted to make her the “Huetiful Hair Idol,” tune into her popular YouTube channel because of her commitment to spreading positivity about natural hair while educating viewers about style and maintenance.
Sugar (yes, that’s her real name) delivers natural hair styling tips alongside humor, laughter and a heavy dose of quirkiness. With over 4 million views on her channel, it’s safe to say people love her silly personality just as much as her flawless hairstyles and eclectic fashion sense.
One look at Dr. Nina Ellis-Hervey’s YouTube channel and website, and it’s easy to see why she has been coined “The Next Oprah,” by her devout fans. Her natural hair tutorials are only one of the reasons over 90,000 subscribers hang on her every word. She lost more than 100 pounds (a feat that was profiled in People Magazine) and uses her platform to inspire fans to achieve their holistic healthy and fitness goals.
The YouTube channel, PrettyDimples01, started when the founder decided to go natural after experiencing breakage from a harmful dye and relaxer combo. Years later, she now has a YouTube channel with 80,000 subscribers and hair that she can’t stop touching. Her mission is to help viewers, and the world at large, discover the unique beauty of natural hair. We’d say she’s well on her way to accomplishing just that.
Health is the number one priority for the founder of DPrincess28, who uses her channel and blog to inspire fans to nourish their hair, body and soul. It’s not uncommon to find a diatribe on spirituality next to a roundup of diet and exercise tips, hair tutorials and the like. And with 4 million views on the YouTube channel, it’s clear that her audience loves every post.
AfricanExport is praised for her diversity of topics: the founder posts natural hair tutorials alongside videos on fashion, beauty and lifestyle. Though the topics vary, her genuine spirit and girl-next-door charm shines through in each clip. The channel description reads “Once you subscribe, you're family” and no doubt all 144,000 subscribers feel like they know her personally. And you will too.