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(Photo: US Navy, Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tristan B. Lotz/Released)

What started out as a simple idea, flourished into a proactive group that brings female Sailors of all ranks together in a platform that supports healthy discussion and fellowship.

Created by the Chiefs Mess, “I Am My Sister” (IAMS) holds various events and meetings aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77).

One of these events is dedicated solely to female hair regulations, an initiative taken by Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Amanda Odukwu and Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Jasmine Johnson.

“It just started out as a conversation,” said Odukwu. “The topic was hair, and [Johnson] and I noticed how people had become very relaxed on the standards during deployment. We figured it would be a great idea to educate and inform everyone on the issue.”

Johnson also has the same goal in mind, resulting in both women hosting their first IAMS event. Female Sailors gathered in GHWB’s barbershop to give advice and learn new ways to take care of themselves and stay within standards.

People with various lengths and textures of hair would each give their own presentation, bringing their own beauty supplies for show.

“People sometimes forget they are in the military and have standards to maintain in or out of uniform,” said Johnson. “In this particular profession, we volunteered. This is not a civilian job where you can pick and choose how you look. You have to present yourself well, and these events help people take more pride in themselves and look the part.”

According to Odukwu, IAMS creates a forum that breaks the rank barrier and emphasizes that regardless of what a female Sailor goes through, they will always find the necessary support and guidance.

“You have some of the best discussions in this forum,” said Odukwu. “You can be in a comfortable setting that allows you to speak your mind, regardless of rank. My only wish is that more female Sailors, especially the junior ones, come out to join in on the experience.”

Over the course of deployment, the group has continued to grow in an unexpected way. Although Johnson believes that one person is all it takes to make a difference, she was pleasantly surprised at the turnout of her first meeting.

“I definitely was not expecting it,” said Johnson. “People were in tune and attentive to what we were saying. I thought it was amazing, and it motivated me to continue hosting the meetings.”

Odukwu believes that based on the current popularity, IAMS will
continue to run after deployment. There will be another event for female hair regulations on June 23rd at 1500 and 1800.

“We plan on expanding on the topic,” said Odukwu. “We hope to host an event catered to male Sailors that allows them to understand the general hair regulations so that they are better able to be aware and help support their shipmates.”

Both Odukwu and Johnson expressed gratitude for the opportunity
to drive these events and the support they have received throughout the process.

“These meetings would not be possible without the great female leadership in the Chiefs Mess,” said Johnson. “They make a real difference and they have helped every step of the way.”

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jennifer M. Kirkman, USS George H.W. Bush Public Affairs

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