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Pentagon to review hairstyle regulations after discrimination concerns

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This undated image provided by the US Army shows new Army grooming regulations for females. (AP/US Army)

The Pentagon will review new Army hairstyle regulations after lawmakers criticized them as discriminatory toward women of color.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said Tuesday that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has directed his deputy secretary to work with service chiefs to address the concerns about the new standards. They include bans on most twists, dreadlocks and large cornrows, all styles used predominantly by black women with natural hairstyles.

“During the next three months, each service will review their hairstyle policies as they pertain to African-American women to ensure standards are fair and respectful of our diverse force, while also meeting our military service's requirements,” Kirby said

Sixteen female members of the Congressional Black Caucus sent a letter to the Pentagon earlier this month claiming the changes unfairly restrict the hairstyles of women of color.

“Though we understand the intent of the updated regulation is to ensure uniformity in our military, it is seen as discriminatory rules targeting soldiers who are women of color with little regard to what is needed to maintain their natural hair,” the letter stated, according to the Military Times.

Kirby added that after the reviews are complete, Hagel will make “whatever appropriate adjustments to DOD policy are necessary.”

Fox News' Justin Fishel and The Associated Press contributed to this report

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