Graduating female mids excited to end wear test of common cover


Female mids at the Naval Academy wear the male combination covers as part of their uniform. Wear-testers said the covers are ill-fitting, bulky and headache-inducing. (U.S. Naval Academy)

For as long as women have been in the Navy, they’ve been wearing a different cover than the one issued to men. That is, until last year, when the service began wear tests on a combination cover, using the Naval Academy midshipmen as research subjects.

“I hate it,” an unidentified graduating female midshipmen told Navy Times at the academy’s commissioning ceremony Friday. “Almost everyone I know hates it.”

The female “bucket” hat has come into question recently, as Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has pushed to make male and female service members’ uniforms more, well, uniform — starting with unisex covers.

“I’m excited that I don’t have to wear it once I’m in the fleet,” the female mid said.

She explained that on top of its general discomfort, the cover limits the hairstyles women can use. A low bun works all right, she said, but she can’t put her hair in a French braid or twist, like she could with the female cover she wore before this year.

She said she has nothing to hide, as far as being a woman, and doesn’t see why she needs a cover to look more like the men.

The Brigade of Midshipmen and a few Navy musicians were the first to test the combination cover last year year. Feedback was overwhelmingly negative, according the Navy’s survey.

However, the service is pushing forward with combo covers, in addition to unisex uniforms for junior enlisted sailors, to include the iconic ‘Dixie cup’ cover.


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  1. So it sounds like irregardless what people think during the experiment it’s going to be implemented anyway.

  2. The guys have been wearing these types of covers for years. Why would it be any different for women? I say welcome to the military. Time to put on your happy face and move along.

  3. Headache producing ? How? All Naval officers regardless of gender should wear their hair no longer than four inches, problems solved.

  4. I’m not in the Navy, but as an outside observer, I thought that the hats that were in common usage for Navy females looked silly and I thought _they_ might be uncomfortable and/or impractical. (Would they even keep the sun off when worn while on duty? Did they have to be bobby-pinned on? How would females with short haircuts manage this?) I can understand the rationale for “equal hats” in theory, so that women would wear the “male” combination cover as in the picture, but I am aware that many things proposed in theory don’t always work out so well in practice. Maybe the combination covers for males don’t fit many females correctly? Perhaps a study of female versus male head shapes and sizes is in order? That said, I am aware that there is a new charcoal camo “everyday” uniform currently being worn, at least by some of the males. (I saw some recently and it was so different from military uniforms I was accustomed to seeing that I had to ask if it was a genuine US military uniform.) If the uniform can be so radically redesigned it has no resemblance to the sailor suit of former times, why not come up with a completely different cover meant for both sexes?

  5. It seems alot of people here are giving negative input but i think the only here who have the chance to say something is the women officers who are wearing it. If you are not wearing the hat then you doing have a voice to say anything about why they should like to wear this cover

  6. This is nonsense. For decades Cadets at West Point, male and female, have worn the exact same service cap (very similar to this “combination cap”) and I have never heard a female Cadet–of the hundreds I have interacted with while serving as faculty and as a Cadet–complain of discomfort or limitations on hairstyles. Further, I believe the more similar the uniforms are, accounting for different body shapes aside, the more “uniform” the service members are, and the less “difference” will be coded into the interactions and assumptions about service members of different genders. In other words, same uniform=same standards=fewer (or ideally no) double standards.

  7. I’m a retired (male) chief and I hated the combination cover. Every officer and chief I knew dreaded having to wear it for ceremonies and never wore it at any other time. I don’t think it’s a male/female thing, it’s just an uncomfortable cover for all and a pain to deal with.

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