Soldiers Rush to Get Tattoos Before Army Rules Take Effect

Image: Soldiers Rush to Get Tattoos Before Army Rules Take Effect

Thursday, 01 May 2014 06:49 AM

By Elliot Jager

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There has been a rush on tattoo parlors near military bases as the U.S. Army prepares to enforce new restrictions on getting "tatted," The New York Times reported.

"I'm getting hit like no tomorrow," tattoo artist Tyrell Barbour, whose Washington state parlor is near a big army base, told the newspaper. "Especially younger military, but a lot of superiors, too."

The rules — issued on March 31 and set to take effect after 30 days — decree that tattoos on the head, face, neck, eyelids, mouth, and ears are prohibited. So, too, are tattoos on wrists, hands, or fingers.

Visible tattoos on a soldier's arms and legs are restricted to a total of four and none can be bigger than the soldier's open hand. So long as they do not violate rules about extremist, sexist, indecent, or hateful messages, the army is allowing soldiers to keep their existing tattoos, Army Regulation 670–1 states.

The new rules do not address other parts of the body that are always covered by a uniform, the Times reported.

In advance of the new policy, Sgt. Ray Stevens, from Portland, Me., was getting a tattoo on his left forearm. "I would probably do it anyway; I'll just do it sooner. I like getting tattoos," he told the Times.

The other military branches have already updated their rules on tattoos.

Troops have worn tattoos going back to Roman times. Historian Anna Felicity Friedman said that soldiers have a need to assert their individual identity.

"People who are in situations of depersonalization, whether it's wearing uniforms, or other ways stripped of the ability to assert their identity, tend to react to this depersonalization by getting tattoos," Friedman told the Times.

In addition to tattoos, the new regulations also contain rules on hairstyles, jewelry, grooming and uniforms.

The regulation banning dreadlocks and multiple braids for women have come under criticism from African-American service members. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that the Pentagon would review the policies pertaining to women's hairstyles for all the branches, The Huffington Post reported.

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