Canadian Armed Forces will be allowing one ponytail and it must be “gathered in the centre back of the head.” (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Military shaves restrictions on women in uniform wearing ponytails

OTTAWA — The Canadian military isn’t letting its hair down just yet, but for the first time, women in uniform will be allowed to wear ponytails.

The move, which also makes nylon stockings optional when in a skirt and permits flat shoes instead of pumps or oxfords, is the latest effort to modernize the Canadian Armed Forces after the recent easing of restrictions on beards, boots and off-duty marijuana use.

It also comes amid a concerted effort by senior commanders to increase the number of women in the military, which has so far moved slower than some had hoped.

“We know that greater control over personal appearance is good for the morale of current CAF members and that it helps us attract future members to our team,” said Chief Warrant Officer Alain Guimond, the military’s top non-commissioned officer. “Overall, we’re trying to better reflect the Canadians we serve while welcoming new members into our ranks.”

Previously, female military personnel with long hair were required to keep it in braids or buns while on duty. They were also required to wear five-centimetre pumps or oxford shoes as well as nylons if they were working in skirts.

Why those restrictions? Tradition? Safety, in the case of ponytails? Defence officials couldn’t immediately answer that question.

Not that the military is throwing away the rulebook entirely; only one ponytail is allowed and it must be “gathered in the centre back of the head,” according to new guidance issued to military personnel this week.

Pippi Longstocking, that means you.

Ponytails are also not allowed with ceremonial uniforms and, in defiance of such trendsetters as Ariana Grande, they can’t go “below the top of the armpit.”

And although the shoe rules for women are being loosened to allow flats, the freedom does not extend to ”ballerina-slipper styles.”

As for men, sorry, you’re going to have to do your David Beckham impressions at home: No ponytails for you, even the short variety.

As with last fall’s decision to allow beards in more circumstances, this latest move has received mixed reactions from service members and veterans on social media, with some praising the move as long overdue and others worrying the military will look less professional.

But it likely won’t hurt the military’s efforts to recruit and retain more women in uniform.

Defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance publicly asserted in February 2016, shortly after taking command of the Forces, that he wanted women to be 25 per cent of the military by 2026. At that time, barely 15 per cent of service members were women.

Figures provided by the Department of National Defence showed that at the beginning of January that had grown to 15.7 per cent, a rate of increase that Vance acknowledged to The Canadian Press was slower than he had anticipated.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Trudeau caught in middle of clash over energy, environment, Indigenous demands

OTTAWA — The competing demands of natural resource development, environmental protection and… Continue reading

A rare miss for Walmart to end the year

NEW YORK — Walmart reported disappointing fourth-quarter profits and sales after a… Continue reading

Air Canada expects hit in Q1 of 2020 due to novel coronavirus and MAX grounding

MONTREAL — Air Canada says its first quarter is expected to be… Continue reading

Flight to evacuate Canadians from cruise ship ‘expected’ to depart Japan on Thursday

Canadians stranded on a quarantined cruise ship were told that a flight… Continue reading

Recollections of well-known families in Red Deer

Past and present families recognized on Family Day

Your community calendar

Feb. 19 A Liberation of Holland event is being held at the… Continue reading

Reader’s opinion: Here’s how Premier Kenney can build a stronger Alberta

Apparently, the UPC government has decided that most seniors should pay more… Continue reading

United We Roll convoy cruises through central Alberta

It has been one year since the United We Roll convoy made its way from Alberta to Ottawa

Canada’s Auger-Aliassime returns to top 20 after reaching Rotterdam final

Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime returned to the top 20 in the world rankings… Continue reading

Canadian teams looking strong at world junior curling championship

KRASNOYARSK, Russia — Winnipeg’s Jacques Gauthier posted two victories at the world… Continue reading

Canadian Weinstein accuser draws strength from #MeToo community, regardless of verdict

For years, Montreal actor Erika Rosenbaum says, she was harbouring a “secret”… Continue reading

‘Schitt’s Creek,’ ‘Anne with an E’ lead Canadian Screen Awards pack

TORONTO — It will be a celebrated ending for “Schitt’s Creek” and… Continue reading

Tournament of Hearts veteran skip Kerry Galusha curls through pain

MOOSE JAW, Sask. — If Kerry Galusha is skipping Northwest Territories at… Continue reading

Most Read