When you were 18, did you jump at the opportunity to express your independence by getting a tattoo? Have you ever wanted to join a branch of the military only to find that some of the divisions are a little more severe on body art rules than others? Of all the military branches, the Marine Corps are the most strict when it comes to having tattoos.
Its policy restricts Marines from having any body art that might embarrass the division. Things like nudity, vulgarity or references to illegal substances and extremist groups are strictly prohibited, it also disallows half- and quarter- length sleeve tattoos or bands that are thicker than two inches. And if marines are interested in an officer position, they may not have more than four tattoos showing while wearing shorts and T shirts. It is a different story for women, however.
Women and tattoos in the Marines
The Huffington Post recently highlighted a story of a young woman interested in joining the marines. Twenty year old Kate Pimental was a perfect physical and mental fit for the ranks. However, a tattoo she received when she was 18 across her upper chest might hold her back from her dream.
"The simple solution would be for Pimental to wear a crewneck shirt."
The reasoning behind the strict tattoo rules in the Marines is for uniform consistency. Men wear white crewneck undershirts beneath their suits while women are permitted to white v-neck undershirts. Pimental's tattoo would be visible from under this cut, making her uniform inconsistent with the rest.
The simple solution would be for Pimental to wear a crewneck shirt, except the Marines ban women from wearing this style. But might there hope for her future with the Marine Corps' new tattoo policy set to be unveiled in just a few weeks?
A new tattoo policy on the horizon
The Marines are expected to announce a new body art policy in just a few weeks time – a policy that hasn't been updated since 2010. Since then, other branches of military including the Navy and Army both have relaxed their tattoo restrictions. The Marine Corps Times reported that it is expected to address size, placement and career paths of those with excessive ink. However, the Marines are not expected to be so lenient – Commandant General Robert Neller told the source that the ban on sleeve ink will continue.
The Huffington Post explained that Neller believes the revisions will give guidance for some of the recruits like Pimental.
"There will be a little flex on what is an acceptable tattoo. My goal is, in less than thirty days, this thing will be out, and it will include specific rules for Marines who want to do special duty assignments or become warrant or commissioned officers," he remarked.
Pimental has continued to train with recruits but it is unclear whether what the future will hold for her tattoo – but the answer will be revealed in a few short weeks. She has expressed that the Marines is the place for her, so if the restriction isn't addressed, Pimental and others in a similar position may have to look into new options including laser tattoo removal.