Changes to the dress code were long overdue, the authorities say
Canada has introduced changes in the nation’s military dress code, allowing servicemembers to have long nails, face tattoos, and to dye their hair. The new rules also permit men to wear skirts.
According to an FAQ released by the Canadian military on Tuesday, the dress code revision was long overdue, but the changes were not made lightly. “The appearance of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has not kept pace with the Canadian society which it serves,” the document reads.
The CAF says the purpose of the reform, which will come into effect in September 2022, is to make the rules more inclusive and gender-neutral.
One of the major changes is that uniforms will be no longer divided into the categories ‘male’ and ‘female’. This means that servicemembers who identify as men will be able to wear skirts, given that all references to gender have been removed in respect to items such as skirts, nylons, and purses.
“Both catalogues are open to all members and they may be intermixed. CAF members may choose whichever design best fits, as long as it is worn as per the Dress Instructions,” the military said, with exceptions for specials occasions such as parades.
In addition, recruits will no longer have to shave their heads in basic training, and there will be no restrictions on hair length unless it impedes performance. Servicemembers will also be allowed to dye their hair and have long fingernails and ear piercings, if it doesn’t interfere with their duties.
Face tattoos are also acceptable, unless they are associated with criminal gangs or indicate discrimination against others.
In the new version of the Dress Instructions, one paragraph, which prohibited chewing gum, slouching, and walking hand in hand, was removed. The FAQ, however, says that all servicemembers, while in uniform, should “project a positive military appearance.”
While praising the push to honor diversity in the military, General Wayne Eyre, Canada’s chief of the defense staff, admitted the move could spark debate.
“Some will consider this progress, while others may see this as unwarranted,” Eyre said. “We must be wary of the false dichotomy that we must choose between changing our dress and appearance, or be strong.”