Revised CAF dress code allows for face tattoos, long hair and beards

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has released further details about what will and won’t be allowed under its revised dress code expected to be enforced starting this fall.

The new rules, unveiled Tuesday morning, allow for long nails, face tattoos, and coloured hair among other changes.

“The Canadian Forces Dress Instructions are about 50 years old and so the policy as a whole was overdue for revision. The appearance of the Canadian Armed Forces has not kept pace with the Canadian society which it serves,” the document reads.

The updated dress code is slated to take effect in September and, as was the case previously, commanders at all levels will be charged with ensuring personnel under their command are following the rules.

Part of the changes mean members can wear intermixed uniforms as both the male and female catalogues are open to all members.

“The overall aim of the updated Canadian Forces Dress Instructions is to make the policy more inclusive and less prohibitive, and to allow CAF members increased freedom to make personal choices regarding their appearance,” the document reads.

New recruits will not have to shave their head on basic training and there are no restrictions on the length of one’s hair but it must be tied when it extends beyond the shoulder and can’t cover a member’s face.

Similarly, sideburns, beards, moustaches and goatees at any length get the green light so long as they are “kept neatly groomed and symmetrical in style.”

Using hair dye and donning long fingernails are also permitted unless they impact operational duties and face tattoos are acceptable so long as they aren’t associated with criminal activities or express a form of discrimination.

The government announced their intent to create a gender-neutral dress code in March, as an attempt to address a much-needed culture shift as it struggles to recruit more diverse personnel.

“We’ve heard from our members that the existing dress instructions were not inclusive, and did not allow our members to represent their authentic selves while in uniform,” said Maj.-Gen. Lise Bourgon, acting chief of military personnel, at the time.

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