US Army Set To Ban Tattoos Below Elbows and Knees

Will also require that offensive tattoos be removed


The U.S. military and tattoos have an entangled history. The rise of the tattoo in popular culture started with floods of inked veterans—especially from World War II—returning home with them. The first tattoo parlor in New York City, established in 1846, served to mark up Civil War soldiers.

It is that strong history that's probably the reason why a blog post on the Army's website declared in 2009, "Today, it seems, you couldn't throw a rock into an Army formation without hitting a Soldier with at least one tattoo."

So it might be strange for the Army to put forth a new rule banning them on commonly tattooed portions of the body.

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  1. The tattoos are really about professionalism in appearance…which is a hallmark of the garrison Army. These were the standards they had about seven or eight years ago, before it started getting tough for them to find people to enlist. Now that it’s a buyer’s market for labor, they can afford to be pickier.

    It’s a PR thing for them as well…it’s a lot easier to plead your case for funding to the American public with a bunch of clean-cut people who could be their kids rather than a tatted up guy they can’t really develop empathy with. Perhaps an unfair depiction, but that’s how the Army seems to view it.

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