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U.S. Navy Relaxes Tattoo Rules as Body Art Becomes More Popular Among American Youth

By Photographed by Fenno Jacobs. Department of Defense. Department of the Navy. Naval Photographic Center. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Photographed by Fenno Jacobs. Department of Defense. Department of the Navy. Naval Photographic Center. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The United States Navy has decided to loosen up its rules regarding tattoos as more young people are showing an interest in body art.

Previously, rules restricted the size of tattoos on recruits’ and sailors’ arms and legs. The new rules will not limit size or number of tattoos below the elbow and knee, and for the first time, sailors will be permitted to have neck tattoos under an inch in length.

“We just got to the point where we realized we needed to be honest with ourselves and put something in place that was going to reflect the realities of our country and the needs of our Navy,” said master chief petty officer Mike D. Stevens. “We need to make sure that we’re not missing any opportunities to recruit and retain the best and the brightest because of our policies.”

Tattoos are becoming increasingly popular among young people in the United States. In fact, more than 20% of adults in the United States have at least one tattoo. This statistic intertwines with a major pool of potential Navy recruits, the average age of whom are 20 years old. Navy officials and former sailors feel that if the new rule helps attract good recruits, then that is all that matters.

Certain regulations will still stand, however. The Navy will continue to enforce its rule prohibiting tattoos that convey offensive or controversial messages. Examples of tattoos that will be banned are those “that are obscene, sexually explicit, and or advocate discrimination based on race, sex, religion, ethnicity, or national origin,” as well as those that are related to “gangs, supremacist or extremist groups, or advocate illegal drug use.”

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