Tattoos have long been associated with service men. Soldiers may get ink to commemorate the platoon they’d served in. Navy men may get tattoos that chronicle their travels across the globe.

And so it comes as a bit of surprise that the Army has released a decree that would dramatically limit tattoos. Certainly, it’s no shock that the Army would have *some* restrictions about body art. But the latest guidelines, published on March 30, are as stringent as they come.

Some of the rules include:
“Tattoos cannot be located anywhere on the neck or head above the lines of a T-shirt.”

“Visible band tattoos cannot be longer than two inches wide.”

“Each visible tattoo below the elbow or knee must be smaller than the size of the wearer’s extended hand.”

The guidelines are pretty specific, and they severely limit the available space for tattoos.

Why were the guidelines written? As stated by Sgt. Maj. Raymond F. Chandler III on the Army website, “The Army is a profession, and one of the ways our leaders and the American public measure our professionalism is by our appearance,” he said. “Wearing of the uniform, as well as our overall military appearance, should be a matter of personal pride for all Soldiers.”

The debate of tattoos-in-the-workplace has been a ongoing debate. This instance, however, adds a even more provocative conundrum: should soldiers, as representatives of a nation, be more concerned with their physical appearance? Or, considering that they are fighting for our freedoms, should they be given more freedoms with their own bodies?

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