Army Tattoo Rules Eased, Hair Policy Also Updated

September 18, 2014 | By Garrett Montgomery More

Army tattoo rules

Army tattoo rules loosened after backlash. The Congressional Black Caucus frustration and angry soldiers have pushed the Army to update its tattoo and hair rules.

In March of 2014, the Congressional Black Caucus had demanded that the revisions to Army Regulation 670-1, be made to remove terms like “unkempt” and “matted,” which they found offensives to African American soldiers.

The Army took it a step further by releasing not only new rules for hairstyles, but also for tattoos.

Effective immediately, army personnel are allowed to have four visible tattoos that are about the size of a hand.

The inks must be below the elbow and knee. Racist, sexist, extremist and other inappropriate tattoos are still banned.

Tattoos on faces, necks and head are prohibited. The same rule goes for mouth, ear and eyelids.

Prior to the March update of the Army’s grooming and appearance regulation, soldiers with unacceptable tattoos were not allowed to request a commissioning or appointment, that rule angered many soldiers.

Now, they can as long as they have their commander’s endorsement. In a statement, the Army explained its decision to review the policies:

“The updated regulation takes into account that previously authorized tattoos should not prevent a soldier from becoming an officer, but that candidates are to be evaluated based on the whole soldier concept, or all characteristics of a soldier.”

The Army tattoo rules were softened, so were the body mutilation regulations.

The Army still believe that it is unacceptable for its soldiers to have body mutilation such as tongue bifurcation and ear elfing.

But the new rules state that a soldier with “approved body mutilations” who entered service before March 31 can “request an exception to policy.”

The Army has made substantive changes to hairstyle rules per the Congressional Black Caucus request. The offensive terms have been removed.

And while dreadlocks are still prohibited, cornrows and twists, braids, which are traditionally worn by women of color are now allowed.

Female soldiers must abide by the following rules when sporting braids, cornrows and twists – they have to be worn, with a diameter of no greater than 1/2 inch and must be evenly spaced.

Many took to social media networking sites, to comment on the new Army tattoo and hairstyle rules.

Most applauded them for understanding that a black woman can not style her hair like a Caucasian soldier.

But they were blasted for the tattoo regulation, one person said that inks are classless and ugly and should be banned.

Another shared that if the Army can not have strict rules, then who can?

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Comments (3)

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  1. Derek R says:

    The image of the female above is most likely a Marine Helicopter Mechanic, given her knuckles are oiled with a rotor blade overhead, and wearing a green shirt. Green shirts are Marine Corps undershirts and not authorized for use (given that there are no females in special operations, who have there own uniform guidelines in combat zones). The only other persons permitted to wear green shirts as part of there uniform are Navy Corpsmen.
    It may not seem like a big deal to the publishers or to the general public, but it is considered a big deal to the troops to lump us in a giant pot and pick out pieces to use in a story. All Sailors, Airmen, Soldiers and Marines are troops. Not all troops are soldiers, same goes the image.
    -Disgruntled Vet.

  2. Gene Hendrickson says:

    I am glad I served when I did. These namby pambeys don’t belong in the army, navy ,airforce,marines, or boy and girl scouts.

  3. Zach says:

    I’m glad I served also. But AR 670-1 was and still is outdated. Tattoos and haircuts have been complained about probably since the regulation was enacted. Soldiers also are fighting alongside allies (ex. Norway, Germany, Sweden)who all get paid more and have less strict policies yet perform the same duties. The reality is that these ladies and gentlemen joined in a time of war, with little certainty about the future. Haircuts and tattoos shouldn’t matter.


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