After being announced late last summer, the new women’s Army Combat Uniform has been issued to 150 soldiers at Fort Benning in Georgia to undergo testing. The current uniform, while being treated as unisex, has received complaints concerning its fit. And while some are not exactly supportive of a “women’s only” uniform, the producers of the uniform expect a very positive response.
The purpose of manufacturing a uniform designed specifically for women is certainly not about accentuating the women’s bodies. Think about trying to put on any article of clothing designed for a man — it’s pretty clear that our bodies are, architecturally, quite different. Men’s clothes are boxy and straight, suited to a body that is wider on the top and narrower at the waist. We can see this when we wear a men’s t-shirt. But imagine trying to feel professional and representing your country while wearing something that just doesn’t fit you correctly.
Not every soldier has complained about the uniform, and many have said that a separate one is unnecessary. To say nothing of female soldiers’ reluctance to appear that they want special treatment. However, Maj. Sequana Robinson, assistant product manager for uniforms at PEO Soldier (the company producing the new uniforms), says that women will absolutely appreciate and welcome the changes once they try the uniform on:
“Once I put the uniform on, I immediately loved it,” she said. “The first thing I did when I tried on the uniform was to lift my knees up and squat because I don’t want something hugging or showing the contour of my body … it has even more room than I thought.”
The adjustments to the fit include: “narrower shoulder width, an added elastic waistband, adjusted chest, waist and sweep ratios, repositioned elbow and knee patches, longer top length on the front and back of the uniform and adjusted sleeve length and width.” So, clearly, this is not about fashion — it’s about making women feel like they can do their job without wearing something that wasn’t originally intended for them.
When testing is complete, the soldiers will report back to Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment Command in Fort Belvoir, Virginia to provide their feedback.
(Top pic by Sgt. Ben Hutto, Story via Army.mil)
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