When Shannon Ihrke, the infamous marine-turned-instagram-model, joined the US Marines at 19, she knew it wasn’t going to be easy. But she never knew what the Navy had in store for her!
After the service, she used her newfound physique to pursue a modeling career, eventually becoming a covergirl for Maxim. But her time in service was not a walk in the park. Shannon opens up about what it was like to be a woman in the armed forces.
Minimal, Natural Makeup
While makeup was banned from the armed forces for the longest time, makeup has since been accepted for use, as long as it’s tones are natural-looking. Fake eyelashes are strictly prohibited though.
Up until recently, if a women got pregnant, they were able to stay in service until their baby bump got too big for them to fit in their uniforms. This caused a lot of complications for the service-women, as the uniforms used in the armed forces are a little… unforgiving in the way they are fitted. Luckily, after a little bit of lobbying, the Marines came up with a solution: pregnancy uniforms (how was this not thought of sooner…?). While the uniforms are a little odd looking, they are a solution to a problem. Now service women are able to serve right up to the 20 week mark.
Regulations on Hairstyle
The military has always been very strict on hair with male recruits (which is routinely buzzed off), but even women face hair regulations, albeit not nearly as strict. Although their hair is no longer trimmed, they’re still required to keep it up in a bun. Hair must also be kept “natural,” so things like beads, ponytails, and pigtails are not allowed. Additionally, any “outrageously multicolored or faddish” hairstyles are prohibited.
Sometimes Navy SEALS are called upon to drop into action zones, and some of the most valuable operatives are the pooches, so that means that they are jumping out of the plane like everyone else. Look at the happy pupper dropping with it’s fellow SEALS
Among the First
Barbara Ives was among the first 80 women to enlist in the Naval Academy once the ban was lifted, but she unfortunately found that the Navy was SEVERELY unprepared for female recruits. Not only was there rampant sexual harassment and discrimination, the NAVY was less than accommodating to the first class of women for their biological and physical differences (ie. feminine hygiene, differences in uniform fitting.) Luckily they have evolved and are now an equal opportunity provider.
While all “basic training” in every sect of the Armed Forces is challenging, the Navy Seals training takes the cake. Lasting over 7 months, the training is meant to “break you so we can rebuild you a better man (or woman).” The Navy SEALS are regarded as one of the most elite forces in the world and just surviving training is an accomplishment.
Inspired by the Pain
The Navy SEAL training is so grueling, that former model Lauren Berlingeri started a youtube series called “Woman versus Workout.” The series contained training sequences she learned while in the service, with most of the videos featuring active Navy Seals.
Traditionally, the Secretary of the Navy names all of the ships, but the process begins when people submit names that have significance to Naval history. Once the name is chosen, it’s given the surname USS (United States Ship) and the eldest female descendant of the person whose name was chosen is given the honor of officially christening the ship.
Since the formation of the armed forces, women were always treated as lesser, with the Navy going as far as restricting what type of missions and tasks women were able to be tasked with. Luckily, this all changed in 2015 when the rules were changed so that women were treated equally as men across the board. Some of the older officials were a little irked by this, but come on! It’s not a man’s game anymore.
Pregnancies at Sea
Despite the Navy now accommodating pregnant troops with special uniforms, a birth at sea can still be problematic. Most of the time active members are out at sea for extended periods of time, so when their leave comes around they need to be airlifted back to the mainland, which is anything but cheap. But in the end, it’s worth it to the navy because of the invaluable service these women provide to a male-dominated force.
First Women Navy Pilot
Kara Hultgreen joined the Navy as an aviator in 1994, and inso doing ended up becoming the first woman fighter pilot on a carrier. She sadly was killed when her jet crashed into the sea while attempting a carrier landing.
Pulling Up the Standards
Pull-ups : the staple of any Marines’ workout routine. Up until recently, women were expected to do them the same as the men (though they only had to do three). However, when over half of the women recruits couldn’t pass the pull-up test, they changed the standard to make it so that they only had to do a flexed arm hang. They can still opt to do them for extra scoring on the course, though, if they want to go the extra mile.
Each branch of the military has different medical needs, but the Navy requires that their medics be experts on water pressure and the oxygen that dissolves in it — specifically “the bends”, which can occur when a diver rises too quickly and the divers internal pressures get all wacky. This often happens when a Navy diver is in a conflict and has to rise to the surface quickly.
The USS Bennington Incident
Although not directly related to women, this story was too good not to share. In 1957, a group of Australian college students dressed as pirates and snuck aboard the USS Bennington and declared it officially captured. The Navy may be staunch, but they still have a sense of humor, and the pranksters were given their due laughter and left without any legal allegations. Sometimes mixing a little bit of play into the seriousness of their jobs is a necessary occurrence!
MMMA (Marine Mixed Martial Arts)
Usually when avidly practicing a discipline of Martial Arts, ones develop their own unique style (Bruce Lee did just that when he created Jeet Kune Do), and the Marines did just that. The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program mixes several fighting styles such as kung fu, boxing, and krav maga to create their own system of self defense.
No Women in the Sea Twinkies
Up until 2010, the Navy had a ban in place that prevented any woman from serving inside a submarine. This wasn’t a discriminatory measure though, it was actually for the women’s well being. On a submarine, the quarters are, shall we say, “cozy.” With a severe lack of privacy, it seems that the Navy was only looking out for their operatives. Luckily, though the Navy is making it a requirement on new vessels to have private quarters for female operatives.