Yolany Winters is in the U.S. Army Reserve. The U.S. Military is well-known for its strict guidelines regarding appearance, and Winters faced some criticism for her natural hair.
“My hair is naturally curly,” she says. “I’m an Afra-Latina from Panama and it’s been very controversial during drills, during times where I’m in uniform.”
Winters says sergeants told her that her curly hair was not in regulation, despite her ability to fit it under her cap.
“I started looking at the regulations – and at one point a two-star general came in and that’s when I decided to come in and ask what’s going on with the regulations,” she says.
The major general told her that regulations had changed – her hair was no longer a problem – and they had added other options Winters had been considering.
“Now we can have dreads which is great because I really wanted to dread my hair at some point. And then we’re allowed to have certain braids and certain things that we weren’t allowed to have,” she says. “I’ve realized now, with so many years in the army that at the end of the day we’re all there for the same purpose which is to defend the country. And the U.S. is very diverse and, I just don’t see how your appearance has to do with your ability to defend the country.”