Marine Times Editorial to Clarify tattoo rules


Before the new tattoo regulations took effect April 1, the Corps suffered from a vague policy that wasn�t applied evenly across the service.

USMC Regulations won't allow it anymoreA Marine couldn�t have offensive tattoos, or have any on his neck or head. But on top of that, some would-be recruits were turned away because their artwork was too large or they had too many, with reports that some recruiting stations accepted people who were rejected by others.

With the new policy, the situation has improved � but not enough.

The new regs take the old ones a step further, banning sleeves,� or tattoos that cover a large part of the arm or leg.

Specifically, sleeves that cover all, half or a quarter of the arm or leg and are visible when a Marine is in his PT uniform are prohibited. But unlike other Marine Corps grooming standards that measure hair, sideburns and fingernails to an eighth of an inch, a sleeve is defined as a large tattoo or collection of smaller tattoos that cover the specified area.

Marines who already had these tattoos April 1 have until July 1 to get them documented so they may be grandfathered into the new regulation. Ink-inclined leathernecks who get prohibited tattoos after July 1 face punishment.

But troops interviewed by Marine Corps Times had plenty of questions. How much ink constitutes a sleeve? Does blank space within artwork count toward the coverage area? If my tattoo is partially done, can I get it finished before July 1 without getting in trouble? If I can�t get it finished by that time, can I be granted more time so I don�t spend the rest of my Marine career walking around with half-finished work?

Officials with Manpower and Reserve Affairs, who are charged with deciding what is and isn�t allowed, need to come up with more clearly defined rules on what constitutes a sleeve, be it inches marking the boundary of what constitutes excessive, or limiting the percentage of ink on the arm or leg.

If that�s too difficult to do, then the Corps should distribute photos of tattoos that officials deem acceptable or excessive, just to give Marines a better concept of what is and isn�t allowed.

At the same time, they should allow those with unfinished work to complete their tattoos, and consider granting waivers to those who can�t get it done before July 1.

While there are those who believe that having too many tattoos is unprofessional, that�s certainly more acceptable than someone with half of their artwork colored in. …