HomeNewsArticle Display

Ramstein women let their hair down

An Airman prepares for work.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Tsvyata Munguia, 86th Maintenance Squadron sheet metal aircraft structural maintainer, demonstrates proper hair safety as she prepares for work at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 19, 2021. Due to safety precautions, female Airmen are encouraged to wear their hair up to keep them safe from chemicals or aircraft parts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Taylor D. Slater)

An Airman applies rubbing alcohol to a C-130J.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Danielle Hundley, 86th Maintenance Squadron sheet metal aircraft structural maintainer, applies rubbing alcohol to the side of a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 19, 2021. Rubbing alcohol rids the aircraft of any contaminants that can potentially hamper the cleaning process. Sheet metal Airmen are required to wear proper equipment to protect their hair and skin from damage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Taylor D. Slater)

An Airman goes over a checklist with another Airman.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Danielle Hundley, 86th Maintenance Squadron sheet metal aircraft structural maintainer, right, goes over a maintenance checklist with Airman 1st Class Tsvyata Munguia, 86th MXS sheet metal aircraft structural maintainer, left, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 19, 2021. Starting Feb. 10, women were allowed to wear their hair in up to two braids or a single ponytail, as long as the bulk of the hair did not exceed the width of the head and the length of the hair did not exceed the top of their shoulder blades. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Taylor D. Slater)

An Airman applies primer to a C-130J.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Tsvyata Munguia, 86th Maintenance Squadron sheet metal aircraft structural maintainer, applies primer to the side of a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 19, 2021. Primer eliminates corrosion on the aircraft that results from collected moisture in the air. Sheet metal Airmen are required to wear proper equipment to protect their hair and other body parts from damage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Taylor D. Slater)

An Airman poses for a photo.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Tsvyata Munguia, 86th Maintenance Squadron sheet metal aircraft structural maintainer, poses for a photo, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 19, 2021. Sheet metal maintenance involves working with and around chemicals that can cause permanent damage to hair as well as skin. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Taylor D. Slater)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --

Curious eyes may have spotted female Airmen wearing their hair a little looser since the beginning of February.

On Jan. 21, the Air Force announced the loosening of hair restrictions for females in the Air Force. Women are now allowed to wear their hair in up to two braids or a single ponytail, as long as the bulk of the hair does not exceed the width of the head and the length of the hair does not exceed their shoulder blades. Additionally, women’s bang length has been extended to touching the eyebrows.

“In addition to the health concerns we have for our Airmen, not all women have the same hair type, and our hair standards should reflect our diverse force,” said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass. “I am pleased we could make this important change for our women service members.”

The changes are welcomed by Ramstein female Airmen as well, as 86th Maintenance Squadron women are happy to hear about the changes.

“I had to cut my hair because I was having issues with it a year ago and now I can grow it back out again,” said Airman 1st Class Tsvyata Munguia, 86th MXS sheet metal aircraft structural maintainer. “So that makes me really happy.”

Senior Airman Danielle Hundley, 86th MXS sheet metal aircraft structural maintainer, is delighted to see things continue to change after loc hairstyles were allowed in 2018.

Not all regulations are applied equally however, as the press release notes that female Airmen must also adhere to safety standards:

“Members must adhere to current occupational safety, fire and health guidance, and mishap prevention procedures emphasizing when and how to mitigate the potential for injury from hair of varying lengths around machinery, equipment, power transmission apparatus or moving parts.”

As one of the squadrons affected by those standards, female maintainers from the 86th MXS understand.

“If we’re in the shop (awaiting tasks) it's fine,” Hundley said. “But when you start working you better put your hair up.”

Sheet metal maintenance involves working with and around chemicals that can cause permanent damage to hair as well as skin. There’s also hazards involved with working next to aircraft with many extraneous parts.

Regardless, Munguia is excited for what this means for the Air Force at large.

“This is a big step forward,” Munguia said. “It’s giving women more control over their own hair. They listened to what women wanted and why it was causing them problems.”

Munguia also agreed with the Air Force Women’s Initiative Team feedback stating that the previous grooming standards were causing women’s health issues.

“Having to pull my hair into a bun so tight every day put bumps on my head and gave me headaches,” Munguia said. “It was super uncomfortable and felt horrible.”

Munguia hopes that this move will eventually cause fewer health issues for women in the military and decrease stress.