The Navy's Recruit Training Command at Great Lakes Illinois marked another milestone in efforts to make uniforms more gender-specific Monday when female recruits received their first enlisted white hats, informally known as Dixie cups.
All female enlisted sailors at ranks E-6 and below will be required to wear the hats by Oct. 31, according to a Navy administrative message released this year. But all sailors can now wear them with service dress uniforms, and recruits at Great Lakes will now get them as part of uniform issue.
The development is part of a series of gradual changes that will result in a more uniform look across for sailors of both genders. In February, officials at the U.S. Naval Academy announced that the women of the class of 2016 would be required to wear pants instead of skirts at graduation.
More changes are on the horizon. Navy officials said men and women will get redesigned jumper-style service dress blue uniforms beginning Oct. 1, creating a unisex version of the iconic "crackerjack" uniform in place of the current female version. The new jumper uniform will include a side zipper, and the slacks will have a front zipper to assist with ease of changing and fit.
In a news release Tuesday, female recruits spoke positively of their new "Dixie cup" covers.
"This feels incredible as we are making a part of history," Seaman Recruit Madeleine Bohnert said in the release. "It's really awesome how something as simple as our cover is so symbolic in regards to equality and the uniformity in the military. It's a sense of pride knowing that we are a part of getting the first Dixie cups."
Another seaman recruit, Maria Frazier, said she liked the consistency of the look.
"I think it's really beneficial because as we work side by side, we have to work as a team," she said. "For me, it's important that as we're working together, we look uniform so we can work in uniform."