Plucky Soldiers: Manscaping Makes It to the Military

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Bravery comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s charging to the front lines, and sometimes it’s taking a hard line on facial grooming.

According to the Wall Street Journal, some American male soldiers stationed in Afghanistan are getting their eyebrows shaped into “slender arches” via threading, plucking or shaving. This despite a Marine Corps regulation, added in 2007, that says “excessive plucking or removal of eyebrows is not authorized, except for medical reasons.” (One has to wonder what scandals led to this rule.) Older soldiers, they reported, are bemused by the trend, while men of Islamic faith are not allowed to have their caterpillars trimmed, no matter how bushy.

The 2007 rule update included 36 regulations, banning Marines from wearing cell phones on their belts (which is a good rule, no matter who you are) and from drinking while walking in their uniform (which is a good rule, unless you’re bizarrely coordinated). Female marines, who had been shaving their heads, were required to have hair at least a quarter-inch long because male officers complained that they couldn’t tell their men and women apart. And in what must have been a crushing blow to many, marines were also told that gold, platinum or jeweled teeth would no longer be allowed.

The Journal article does not make clear exactly how widespread this current trend is, beyond anecdotal evidence from barbers and boys in uniform. But NewsFeed can’t quibble too much with any author who manages to get a line this good in print: “The camp,” wrote Michael M. Phillips, “is rife with unconfirmed rumors of waxing.”

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Katy Steinmetz is a reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @KatySteinmetz. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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