The Army uniform is seen as one of the symbols of pride within the U.S. military, and has been a staple for centuries.
Throughout the years, adjustments and changes have been made to the uniform and grooming policies, which officials say is rooted in research and designed to allow soldiers to better perform.
The changes to AR 670-1 have been in the works since 2017.
Female soldiers in uniform are now allowed to wear earrings, sparking the hashtag #jewelsandboots.
They can also wear ponytails during training, as well as lip stick and nail polish.
It may seem like a small change, but some female soldiers at Fort Hood with the 1st Calvary Division said despite a little push back, they feel seen and heard.
“The first day that I came into work with earrings I got so many looks, so many double takes, and people were just like, ‘Is she really going to do that is she really going to be that female, female in the Army,’” said Spc. Zoe Stogiera.
“It is a little bit scary and it can make you, as a leader nervous because you don’t want anyone to perceive you in a negative light but at the same time, the positives completely outweigh the negative," said Cpt. Stephanie Corder.
Earlier this year, the Army announced a variety of updates to its uniform and grooming standards. While many applaud the change, some don't understand why it's necessary.
“There’s a lot of people who may or may not be affiliated with the military who seem to think: why do you need this, why do women need to wear earrings? And my response to them is why not? It does not affect our day-to-day jobs," Maj. Megan Herriford said. "To me that’s been the biggest surprise in the response is why so many people seem to care about something that does not impact them but it impacts us a great deal.”
These soldiers say it's all about breaking down the stereotypes of femininity within the military. As well as still having a sense of identity while in uniform.
“The narrative that is pushed is in order to be professional you have to strip the feminine qualities. You can’t have your nails done or have earrings in because that’s not professional,” said Spc. Courtney Wheaton.
After serving nearly 20 years in the military, Lt. Col Lillian Woodington, Headquarters Battalion Commander, said she has seen the changes throughout the years. She believes this all branches off of a commitment to listen to soldiers and address their concerns.
“Having joined a long time ago and having seen where the Army has come just over the past 20 years has really made me positive and very focused on our future and I know that there are great things to come for this new generation,” said Woodington.
Woodington said these changes go hand in hand with the People First Initiative to make sure that the voice of the soldiers is heard and continuing to push for inclusivity, diversity and equity amongst the ranks.
“Whether it’s male or female no matter who you are or what rank you are or where you came from, they will realize that this is something that is setting us on the path in the right direction to improve quality of life and make a better future,” said Woodington.
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