Army soldiers looking to get tattoos will soon have some stricter rules to obey: No ink above the neckline, below the elbows, or below the knees, reports Stars and Stripes. The rules are expected to go into place in another month or two, but there's no use for soldiers to rush out and get soon-to-be-outlawed tattoos in the interim: Once the regulations are set, soldiers will have to "self-identify" their existing tattoos and pay to remove any in violation of the new policy, says the newspaper. Tats deemed racist, sexist, or extremist also are off limits.
The changes—only for the Army, not the other military branches—are part of broader grooming and uniform rules expected to cover everything from fingernail length to makeup to body piercings. But so far, it's the tattoos drawing the heavy attention, reports Business Insider. Lydia Dallett writes that the Army let things get relatively lax over the last decade as it struggled to fill quotas, but now that the Afghan war is winding down, it can afford to tighten up again. A common sentiment is voiced by James Joyner at Defense One: "The goal here, which I share, is for soldiers to project a professional image. But there's a fine line between enforcing 'professionalism' and pushing one generation's pet peeves on another."