MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — With new and emerging body art trends, comes a new and updated tattoo policy.
Marine Administrative Message 29-10 provides clarification to the existing tattoo policy and establishes the new baseline for Marines receiving body art.
"This is not a new policy," said Sgt. Maj. Carlton W. Kent, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, in an e-mail. "As the popularity of tattooing continues to grow, it is important that we continue to provide further clarification and updates to address new/continuing trends."
Effective immediately, Marines are prohibited from getting tattoos on their head, neck, hands, wrists, fingers and in their mouth. They need to follow the same rules when receiving body art that only becomes visible under a black light.
Tattoos visible when a Marine is wearing the standard physical fitness uniform can't be larger than the service members hand with their fingers extended and joined with the thumb touching the base of the index finger.
"The Marine Corps' tattoo policy seeks to balance the personal desires of Marines with our high standards for uniformity and personal appearance, while also addressing emerging trends," said Kent. "High standards of professional military appearance remain a part of our Marine Corps heritage; therefore, Marines must set the example and maintain the highest professional standards at all times."
Tattoos of an excessive nature do not represent our traditional values and are contrary to our professional demeanor and the high standards America has come to expect from Marines, Kent said.
"All Marines need to be informed, understand the policy before getting a tattoo/brand, and seek guidance from mentors on how excessive tattoos/brands could impact their career goals or future assignments," said Kent. "Marines must understand that having excessive tattoos may adversely affect their world wide assignability as well as restricting an enlisted Marine's ability to become an officer [commissioned or warrant]."
Officers aren't the only Marines limited on the tattoos they can get. Enlisted alike have to maintain their image and are direct representation of our country.
"As Marines we are required to present the best possible image at all times and we are to set the ex¬ample," said Staff Sgt. Michael C. Mateos, career planner with Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group. "If a Marine decides to get a tattoo without first reading and understanding Marine Corps Order P1020.34G and the tattoo policy, they may get tattoos that may be 'deemed prejudicial to good order, discipline and morale or are of a nature to bring discredit to the Marine Corps'; therefore can disqualify him/her from these programs or Marine Corps service."
From having an excess of tattoos, Marines can be turned away from recruiting, Marine security guard and drill instructor duties.
"Marines can eliminate them¬selves from retention, any B-billet and/or any military occupational specialty due to tattoos," said Mateos, 33, from Los Angeles. "Per MCO P1020.34G the deputy com¬mandant for Manpower and Reserve Affairs is designated as the adjudicating authority for any tattoo issue involving retention or special duty assignments."
The new tattoo policy will allow Marines success during their enlistment. Marines who have received unauthorized tattoos prior to the new policy will be grandfathered and need to have their body art documented.
"Grandfathering is typically used to allow Marines to continue to serve in the Marine Corps without being adversely impacted," said Kent. "It protects an individual's career that, by no fault of their own, would otherwise be negatively impacted as a result of emerging policy."