US Army soldiers are rushing to get really, really tattooed before the new army regulations kick in, The New York Times reports. Issued on March 31st with a 30-day window of unit-by-unit enforcement, the new rules outline what ink is and isn’t appropriate, among other things. (See the PDF here.)
Some rules are reasonable, like banning extremist, sexist, and racist insignia. Some are archaically worded and vague, like banning so-called “indecent tattoos or brands” that are “grossly offensive to modesty, decency, propriety, or professionalism.” Others are really specific, banning “tattoos or brands on the head, face… neck (anything above the t-shirt neck line to include on/inside the eyelids, mouth, and ears), wrists, hands, or fingers.” Others are really, really specific, dictating that soldiers may have “no more than four visible tattoos below the elbow (to the wrist bone) or below the knee,” and the tattoos “must be smaller than the size of the wearer’s hand with fingers extended and joined with the thumb touching the base of the index finger.” The US Army hates sleeve tattoos, which “are not authorized below the elbow or below the knee” and are really, really, really specific about “band tattoos” defining them as “a tattoo that fully encircles the circumference of the body part.” These band tattoos “may be no more than two inches in width,” effectively and sadly limiting them to skinny tribal tattoos.
There are however some other specifications. Here are some more highlights:
Males are not authorized to wear braids, cornrows, or dreadlocks (unkempt, twisted, matted, individual parts of hair) while in uniform, or in civilian clothes on duty.
The use of gold caps, platinum caps, or caps of any unnatural color or texture (permanent or removable) for purposes of dental ornamentation is prohibited. Teeth, whether natural, capped, or veneered, will not be decorated with designs, jewels, initials, or similar ornamentation.
Many hairstyles are acceptable, as long as they are neat and conservative.
Extreme, eccentric, or faddish haircuts or hairstyles are not authorized.
Take it as you will. Not having served in the army, I’m not really sure why sleeve tattoos or cornrows adversely impact your ability to point and fire things at people in foreign countries, provided you don’t look like this:
(Top photo: Photo.sf.co.ua)