MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Marines have been nicknamed based on their appearance, fighting spirit and events throughout history. These nicknames include leatherneck, devil dog and jarhead, a prominent feature depicting a short haircut. Their demeanor, pride and uniformity has given rise to the history and lore Marines are known for.
A Marine’s haircut can set him apart from service members in any military branch of service. It’s also one of the few forms of individuality a Marine can have, while staying in regulations. Over the years, Marines have been recognized by the nickname jarhead.
At the beginning of recruit training, one of the very first things to go is any kind of haircut. A shaved head stems a recruit’s individuality, forcing him to abandon his sense of individualism and allowing him to learn to see his platoon’s singular force.
Once they earn their Eagle, Globe and Anchor, they can finally wear a Marine’s haircut and as they begin to see the Marine Corps outside of the recruit depot, they start to understand that, according to the trained eye, a Marine’s haircut comes in many different forms.
To the world, it’s overlooked. To Marines, it’s individuality.
Marines may share their heads or wear high and tights in the beginning of their careers but as time goes by, some take on the shape of high fades, which may eventually become medium fades and some medium fades become low fades, the lines of the Marine Corps uniformity become blurred and a glimmer of the individual peek through.
The shaved head is a powerhouse symbol for Marines. Reserved, for the most part, for drill instructors, motivators and perhaps a few who may be going bald. It bolsters their hard-charging attitude in their daily appearance. They can look sharp and maintain the high standards set forth by their peers and superiors. They may have to allow time for daily maintenance, but on the upside, they don’t have to pay for a haircut every week and their hair, or lack there of, they will be fresh everyday.
High and tight
The high and tight is traditional sign of motivation in the Corps. Whether worn by a Marine who has been in for three months or 30 years, those who show off this haircut are, in a sense, good to go; a lead-by-example type of Marine. Marines say that perception is reality and this haircut causes others to perceive a high and tight as a no-nonsense hard charger.
The high fade, much like its cousin the high and tight, can be one in the same, but for schoolhouse Marines at the Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School, it’s a slight slip into self expression and a Sunday tradition to wait in line all afternoon to have a barber fix them up. Students still maintain their Marine Corps motivation when they sport this haircut, especially when coupled with a prominent eight-point cover tan line.
It’s the most common and easiest fade to style and maintain. Marines flock to their favorite to their favorite barber to keep up with their weekly medium fade, maintaining the status quo for the general population of Marines.
Marines learn to fade in the field for upcoming deployments; the easiest to execute is the low fade. However, the low fade is the least common haircut a Marine will get. It’s typically reserved for those nearing their end of active service or who are just getting out of the field for weeks on end. These haircuts enter most Marine’s style during extensive field exercises or deployments. It can become a reflection of their time and experience in the Marine Corps.
Whether or not a Marine chooses a high and tight or a low fade, he’s representing his individuality in a sea of MarPat utilities. It’s a small, yet significant way, to set himself apart.