So, I’ve been working closely with a friend and other user on this site, Jasper, to develop and worldbuild a sci-fi world, which takes place in the 26th century. In that world, all people on Earth and humans from other planets have joined together to create the United Terran Federation. It has a large military which recruits human men and women from all other Federation territory, mostly form bigger planets like Amon, Tengelle, and Earth. Jasper is the writer of our world, and is currently busy working on the story parts of this Novel. I am the illustrator and have to create and visualize all the characters, settings and technology. It’s fun, but I often hit roadblocks along the way. Like with character design. Most of the characters are military, and work on the spaceship UTF Nova. I want all the characters to have long hair and good looks for, you know, fanservice, but I have a problem. Most militaries have recruits shave of their hair before they enter, so: What would be a plausible reason why the Terran government wouldn’t make soldiers cut their hair?

Soldiers Duty

Soldiers of the UTF Navy have been divided into three subdivisions, which themselves are divided into even more subdivisions. The main three are

-Engineering Core

-Scientific Core

-Executive Core

The Engineering Core are involved in maintenance on ships, and also are soldiers and defenders, when the firm calls for it. They have to upkeep the ship and make sure everything runs properly. They man laser turrets and proton torpedoes when a space battle starts.

The Scientific Core are involved in studying newly discovered planets, acting as anthropologist when new species are discovered, and help come up with new technologies for ships or use

The Executive Core are the ones to lead the ships and fight all the battles. They are the first line of defense when a ship is under attack. When they come in, they do it with power. They have the biggest guns, and when a ground battle is starting, they go down and fight with a passion.

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    $\begingroup$ I suspect that this could be very popular because it's one of those everyone can contribute questions, perhaps consider those things though: a) leave out all the stuff that is unrelated to your question. Nobody needs your biography and to know what your friend Jasper does in order to answer your question. b) Perhaps describe what your soldiers actually do? I don't think that's at all obvious in the 26th century and an interstellar civilization $\endgroup$
    – Raditz_35
    Jun 17, 2018 at 20:18
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding, Keith Henry! If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. You may also find Worldbuilding Meta and The Sandbox (both of which require 5 rep to post on) useful. Have fun! $\endgroup$ Jun 17, 2018 at 20:22
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    $\begingroup$ Because they're called Samsonites? $\endgroup$
    – nzaman
    Jun 17, 2018 at 21:06
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site, Keith. Have you considered why a military requires recruits to shave their head, or for how long they are required to keep their hair short? If these aren't constraints in your situation, then the recruits would not be required to shave. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Jun 17, 2018 at 22:12
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    $\begingroup$ Reminder to close-voters: The problem cannot be fixed if the OP is not made aware of it. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Jun 17, 2018 at 22:12

9 Answers 9


The current aesthetic for short hair seems to have been developed in the Great War of 1914-1918, when soldiers were essentially packed in ditches and swarmed by vermin. As well, individual protective equipment (IPE) was being re introduced (steel helmets and respirators [gas masks]) for the first time since the late Middle Ages. In that environment, short hair and clean shaven soldiers could be more hygienic and able to wear their equipment with less issues than long haired soldiers. WWII amped up the need for mass armies, mass production of disciplined soldiers and a lingering fear of gas attacks, which remained throughout the Cold War.

enter image description here

WWI Trench war

Solders today have even more kit, and are protected by body armour across their torso as well as helmets, meaning they sweat even more than before (especially in the hot environments where many conflicts are raging); you could almost make a case soldiers should shave off all their body hair to function in these environments.

enter image description here

Wearing more and more stuff

Without knowing much about your society and military technology, it isn't possible to suggest any "practical" reasons for military fashion (the elaborate powdered wigs of officers of the 17th century were to make them appear to be wise, elderly gentlemen-a practical issue when the men in the regiment might not know the officer as an aristocrat from the village or estate they came from. The Samurai "top knot" had one particular function, when taking the heads of the dead, you could transport them by sticking a long "pin" through the top knot to present the head of the slain enemy to your lord). If the units fight out of climate controlled buildings controlling drones, then they will be equipped and dressed much differently than a unit in skin tight counter pressure suits crawling over the surface of Mars.

The only real caveat for attempting to illustrate your story is to work out how things like long hair might interact with military uniforms and equipment. Anything which would impede the functioning of things like helmets, heads up displays, neural interfaces between the brain and the equipment or what have you will be eliminated quite quickly. Otherwise, you could make any sort of fashion statements you like.


Because it's the 26th century.

What do they care about what was common practice in the armies 500 years ago? The current day military is not inspired by the fashion choices of the 16th century either. And if you look at some contemporary artworks depicting soldiers from several 100 years ago, then it seems like different time periods had completely different ideas of how a military hairstyle should look:

Soldiers with long hair

This picture depicts a battle which was 300 years ago and included armies from all over Europe. It is much closer to today than today is to your story.

We are talking about 5 centuries of social change. While military organizations always tend to be more on the conservative side, they too are affected by changes in societal norms. And those are extremely hard to predict. So if someone at some point in your military history decided that troop morale does not collapse if soldiers are allowed to wear their hair the way they want, that's not implausible at all.

Fashion trends change rapidly, and they will likely keep doing that in the future. So when you are designing the aesthetics of a universe 500 years from now, you have a lot of creative freedom. When the look you choose includes long hair for everyone, and that look harmonizes well with all the other aesthetic choices you make, then there is nothing implausible about that.

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    $\begingroup$ The quirk being that all that lovely long curly hair would almost certainly have spent the night on the hatstand, not the pillow. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Jun 18, 2018 at 8:42

To come up with some reasons why soldiers wouldn't be required to cut their hair let's first look at the reasons they are (or at least might be, there doesn't seem to be a consensus on why it's actually done) required to cut their hair.

  • Hygiene - This makes sense, less chance of lice and other nasties, less effort required to keep it clean.
  • Combat - Shorter hair can't be grabbed hold of as easily in close combat making it the safer option.
  • Discipline and conformity - Like shining your boots and making your bed it's a way of enforcing discipline and routine into new recruits. It also means everyone looks alike which may be desirable.

So why might those reasons no longer apply?

  • Hygiene - In the 26th century lengthy showering and bathing is no longer required. Maybe soldiers get the dirt vibrated off them in sonic showers, or they are sprayed with special chemicals that clean and dry you instantly. If you don't need to worry about keeping long hair clean then it's less of an issue to have.
  • Combat - Close combat is a thing of the past, hardly any battle gets to that stage thanks to super efficient ranged weapons. Alternatively if battle takes place in space then suits with helmets are likely to be worn, meaning long hair would be tied and hidden away during combat.
  • Discipline and conformity - Large units are no longer effective thanks to the deadly array of weaponry available so militaries rely on smaller groups and individuals who spend a lot of time alone in the field. Discipline and the ability to follow orders are no longer as important and creative thinking is prioritised instead. For conformity I refer to the space suit point, if everyone is already wearing near identical suits then hair length or style is no longer important.

Just a few ideas as to why hair length may no longer be an issue for your soldiers.


Consider the reasons why the military has everyone shave their hair.

  • Louse control, not so much an issue in the modern day with different personal hygiene standards, but historically a significant problem.
  • Gas masks, mostly relate to facial hair, but even then there are variation in practice internationally.
  • Identity. This is a key one, you're removing part of their identity from the outside world and making them one of the corps.

Grooming standards are such that a unit has to match, everyone being clean shaven with short cropped hair is an easy way of making everyone match. You could also require everyone to have a moustache. The problem is that everyone has to have it, teenagers grow very embarrassing thin and straggly moustaches, it's not until you're a few years older that you can grow a decent one.

The same sort of thing is true of hair, the longer it is the more variation you're going to see. Whether straight or curly, blond or brown, thick or balding, the more hair they have the more you're going to struggle to maintain a uniform appearance.

This gives you two options to maintain long hair.

  • Celebrate the diversity, grooming standards of old are now gone, the unity of the massed variations on the human theme are celebrated but since everyone still wears a uniform, it's celebrated through the variety of different hair that the different genetic groups have.

  • Celebrate the unity, each section of the military draws its people from a specific background and all these people look much the same. The navy all have straight dark hair, artillery have curly blond hair, etc etc. Grooming standards are maintained as each unit looks uniform.


For thousands of years India, China, and other Asian regions have had the majority of Earth's population, so throughout history European military practices have been minority practices anyway.

But I will look at European warriors and soldiers first. European male - and thus warrior hairstyles - changed many times.

The really ancient Greeks wore their hair long. In classical times hair was usually shorter. Spartan boys wore their hair short but grew it long as men. Athenian boys wore long hair, cut it short at puberty, and then longer again in manhood. Ancient Roman men wore their hair long, but wore it short in classical times.

During many, but not all, generations and centuries of the Byzantine Empire, men wore their hair long. Maybe Byzantine soldiers also wore their hair long.

This coin depicts Jesus Christ on one side and Emperor Nikephoros II Phocas (r.963-969) a famous warrior emperor, and his stepson Emperor Basil II (r. 960-1025), a famous conquering emperor known as the Bulgar-slayer", on the other.


In the middle ages, nobles in many European cultures and many eras wore their hair long, and were also the main fighting force.

King Richard I the Lionheart of England (reigned 1189-1199), England's most famous warrior King, wore his hair long:


King Henry III of England (r. 1216-1272) had long hair:


King Edward III of England (r.1327-1377) had long hair:


Here is a portrait of King Richard II of England (reigned 1377-99).


Henry V (reigned 1413-22) had a short haircut.


King Henry VI (reigned 1422-1461 & 1470-71) has a third hair style in this portrait:


King Edward IV (1461-70 & 1471-83) has his hair long in his portrait.


King Richard III (1483-85):


King Henry VII Tudor (reigned 1485-1509):


Henry VIII (r. 1509-1547) began a group of short-haired monarchs:


King Charles I (r. 1625-1649) began another group of long-haired monarchs:


But later on English monarchs began to wear wigs made of other people's hair.

Rear Admiral Augustus Brine (1769-1840) had his portrait painted as a midshipman in 1782. Note the long hair he wore as an officer in training:


In short, over many centuries hair styles change and the length of men's hair changes, and there have been many times when it was normal for warriors in western society to have long hair.

In your science fictional society there would not seem to be any reason for spaceship crews to have hair of any specific length, if spaceships have artificial gravity and there is no danger of long hair floating into exposed machinery (in Star Trek the machinery is usually hidden behind panels). I have seen hundreds of Star Trek episodes including many space battles, and I don't remember many situations where a character having very long hair would have made it more dangerous for him.

And you can always provide a justification for space crews having long hair in the era of your story by having characters look at images of famous space officers from the past and laughing at their several different funny hairstyles from different eras of the UTF Navy, showing that styles have changed over and over in the future and long hair has happened to come into fashion in the era of your story. Have the uniform styles change several times in the images of past space heroes, too.

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    $\begingroup$ The European/Mediterranean region has generally been of comparable population to both India and China. For example, take Europe; add the rest of Turkey, the Levant, Egypt and the Maghreb and you get over a billion people; pretty close to China and India. Compare to any other part of history and the results are similar. The Christian/Islam divide as it currently exists has not always existed (e.g Hellenistic Greek and Roman times) and the borders have been fluid (e.g. Byzantine control of Turkey, Muslim control of Spain, etc). All the lands border in the Med are one cultural region. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Jun 18, 2018 at 13:35

Because there are no gas masks or helmets

Gas masks don't seal with long hair. Helmets don't fit correctly either. Those are two good reasons to cut your hair; probably the driving ones over the last 100 years.

In the 28th century, it is pretty easy to imagine a lot of reason why there are no gas masks or helmets. You don't need either when you are driving an armored suit s la Starship Troopers.


The "soldiers" of the future are in fact the equivalent of modern day nerds, their main jobs being maintaining and controlling electronic weapons like futuristic drones and the like, in fact a battle is more like a contest of who has the best and most efficient equipment and the most well programmed A.I.

The only actual battles which involving humans involve them piloting mechs, drones, power-suits and the like, a human would never go into battle with just clothes, and quite often they are thousands of miles away from the action controlling the battle remotely rather than even sitting in a Mech.

So rather than a soldier going into battle, it's more of a programmer or technician going into work, so they are never put under pressure to have a specific dress-code.

Have you ever watched an episode of "Robot Wars" or "Scrapheap Challenge"? And how often have you seen the contestants with polished boots, a well-disciplined dress code, crew-cut, etc. ?

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    $\begingroup$ ""Scrapheap Challenge"? And how often have you seen the contestants with polished boots, a well-disciplined dress code, crew-cut, etc. ?" The Strawbridge brothers were military members and the team leader was a Lieutenant Colonel, so there was at least one team following that ethos. $\endgroup$
    – Thucydides
    Jun 18, 2018 at 22:26

People go to space with long hair, so why not?

enter image description here

You'll simply have to remove moving parts, sliding doors, and other widgets often encountered on sci-fi spaceships... also if she moves backwards, it will fling into her face and she won't be able to see anything.

After viewing this video of a space shampoo, the necessity of "something" to hold it down should be apparent, like braids, or Leia buns, or industrial-strength gel. A shorter length of hair seems to work well, she doesn't look bothered, and it doesn't fling into her face when she turns her head quickly.


Gazelles have a behavior called "stotting" whereby they waste energy in overt displays of physical prowess (jumping really high) to apparently demoralize predators, and apparently this works.

Similarly North Korean soldiers are heavily demoralized by the relative prosperity of their South Korean counterparts, in 1932 Kenneth Rowe (born No Kum-sok) defected from North Korea with a state of the art MiG-15, he didn't know he would get a reward for it, he was just desperate to escape.

Treating your personnel like prisoners when saying they're "a million miles away" is a hilarious understatement isn't a great strategy, especially when the enemy is actively encouraging them to defect. Likewise the better off your personnel are the more likely it is that the enemy might defect to your side. Indeed if a several kilometer long warship only needs a dozen or so people to crew it then it behooves you to ensure they are very well looked after.


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