Your Marine Corps view on Tattoos
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  1. #1

    Your Marine Corps view on Tattoos

    Ok Ok I have read the posts and forums on Leatherneck and have seen many different points of views from conservative to liberal and all points in between. I have a question, why is there a need for a policy regulating the types and sizes of tattoos? I have seen many tattoos that are unexceptable to good order and discipline like a Marine playing shirts and skins who contested to playing on the skins team and when his NCO made him do it he displayed a huge "White power" tat on his upper back which he did not get in trouble for. Yet I have a panther and a dragon tattoo on my forearms that got me denied for the "Yankee White" program straight out of bootcamp and have been 2 of the 6 tattoos that got me denied from the MECEP program. I find it interesting that of all things, the amount of ink a person gets decides their ability to be a leader. Or that the type of tattoo is not distinguished when making a tattoo prejudicial to good order and discipline. What are your thoughts on the issue. Am I way off base here? Is it better for the Corps to take a slingblade approach and deny even "law abiding" Marines to get the tattoos they want (that are in accordance with anti gang, anti discrimination, etc laws)?

  2. #2
    Tattoos should be kept out of view. This is exactly for reasons that you've already stated. "White Power" is unacceptable to you, but not to others. To you, a black panther looks cool, but to others, that or any tattoo looks trashy.

    The point to being a Marine in certain billets is not to express one's individuality, but to do a job, usually associated with the defense of the nation. A tattoo can interfere in that, and it does tend to indicate a more "individualistic" view on things.

    Thus, certain billets will be off limits to tattooed, or sleeved Marines.

    I don't know if it's still enforced, but it used to be that an officer was not allowed to have any, anywhere. And they were inspected upon entry into the Corps.

  3. #3
    And I'm not banging on tattoos in general, or Marines that have tats. Just stating the simple logic behind it all. And with that logic, I do agree.

    Think about it. Any policy that would allow some tats, but not others, is just a recipe for discontent, and eventual policy failure.

  4. #4
    "White Power" tattoos are unacceptable to the Marine Corps. I am an Equal Opportunity Representative and the Marine Corps already has a policy in place for racially insensitive tattoos, boy art, flags, decals, etc..

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Marinewing
    And I'm not banging on tattoos in general, or Marines that have tats. Just stating the simple logic behind it all. And with that logic, I do agree.

    Think about it. Any policy that would allow some tats, but not others, is just a recipe for discontent, and eventual policy failure.
    I can understand making that policy in effect for new recruits but to come down and say that policy is in place for Marines with tattoos already who have already done honest and faithful service to the corps and country, without a grandfather clause is a bit rediculous.

  6. #6
    I'm generally in agreement on the need for a grandfather clause in such situations, but you have to consider the reasoning behind not allowing the tats to begin with.

    If they're deemed so inappropriate, regardless of content, to a particular billet that it would somehow hamper the performance of the Marine, then a clause would be counterproductive.

    If it's more of a higher standard that the Corps is trying to implement, then yes, a clause would be in order.

    It all depends on defining whether or not the tat policy is merely higher standard, or performance related.

    Performance would come into the picture if the Marine were going to be representing the Corps in a foreign public setting perhaps, or if the powers that be simply decided that they didn't want anyone displaying that kind of individuality inherent in their character. This might be the case if there were going to be any sensitive matters of intelligence or material.

  7. #7
    How inapropriate is a visible tattoo on an Officer? What does a tat have to do with the ability to lead troops. I know tattoo'd enlisted Marines who have graduated successfully from Infantry Officer's Course(IOC), I know tattoo'd warrant officer's with more knowledge of tactics than any "regular" officer so you can't tell me that a general no tattoo policy is good for the corps. More likely we will lose good and talented men and women to the "lesser services"

  8. #8
    Don't get me wrong; I don't have a heartache over Marines and their tattoos. I'm just saying there is a certain logic that has to be applied when dealing with a branch, and not just individuals.

    The view on officers and tats, and again - I don't know that this is still in place - was because guys with tats tended to be more of a blue collar type that would punch their way out of a disagreement where the white collar type would be more professional.

    So the Corps isn't looking at the individual, but they're trying to address things as generally as possible so as to make it uniform and give less occassion for people to be held to different standards. Especially from unit to unit.

  9. #9
    i see...

  10. #10
    But let me also say that, on a larger basis, the Corps really does need to consider the individual more than it does. Many of their rules are designed to make a better Corps, but they wind up throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

    This is a problem with any bureaucracy, and the Corps is a govt entity and thus also a bureaucracy. But it's a small, tight knit branch of the govt with esprit de corps to spare, so one would think that we could get past some of the number crunching, mind-numbing regulations.

    Example: The U.S. military did not properly address the drug problem, until it was truly out of hand. So it went from relatively lax, to one strike and you're out.

    So I actually saw in the late 80s, early 90s, guys with whole lists of problems; domestic violence, bad checks, alcoholism, wayward parenting - as in just going around making babies, DUIs, continually physically unfit, and Marines with more than one of these problems were just dealt with.

    Meanwhile, a good Marine with a perfect record can get caught smoking dope once, and he's branded forever and ever a drug user and banned from the Corps.

    Not condoning any of that, but the solution was out of proportion with the problem. A CO should have the latitude to say "This Marine is guilty of being a 21 year old kid, but he's still a good Marine, but this other guy is just a sh**bird" even they both may have violated the same drug rule.

    That'd be less ambiguous than the tattoo policy as it would reward a good, clean record. That is how the civilian world works to an extent i.e. credit scores, driving records, etc.

  11. #11
    Marine Free Member Marine84's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    They must be waivering some of them - when I went to Parris Island at the beginning of this month, I saw a Lt with a tat down to his wrist on his left arm and he was in uniform. It was a nice design sure didn't look "right" in Alphas - cammies, yeah or long sleeves, ok but short sleeves? He was a pretty young guy too.

    I can understand the racial reasoning though - seems today they would be harder about it than when I went through.

  12. #12
    As someone with tattoos i understand thatanything in excess can be a problem. I agree tattoo sleeves may be "excessive ink" but singular "flash" tattoos should be excused.

    The Marine Corps argues that Marines who are overweight, can't pass a PFT, and or don't fit into their uniforms are that way because of a lack of self discipline, but tattoo's are a direct reflection of what negative characteristic?

  13. #13
    The negative characteristic is that tattoos were for the longest time, something only enlisted sailors or Marines, bikers and rock stars did. Essentially.

    And of course now it's much more widespread than that, and so many would argue that tats in and of themselves are not necessarily indicative of someone who doesn't have the discretion to do certain jobs.

    That's partially true, but should the Marine Corps bend to present day trends, or should they hold fast and demand a higher standard?

    Tats in general seem harmless enough to me, but I don't like the general idea of the Corps changing too quickly with the world around them. Leave that to the Army and their new, nicer basic training, or the Air Force and their laundry folding drills.

    Again, I can find plenty of fault in the how the Marines "throw the babies out with their bath water" but in a larger sense, I think they need to err on the side of caution and stick to stricter guide lines than what the general society around them adheres to.

  14. #14
    Marine Free Member cplbrooks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Frederick, MD
    Tattoos have been a long held naval tradition. I dont recall many Marines that didnt have one. It is funny that you mentioned the Yankee White program and tattoos because I didnt have one when i was selected for the program but got one within a few months of getting to Camp David. In fact there were six of us that got them together. The command didnt seem to have a problem with it.

    I believe that officers are forbidden to have tattoos because they are not seen as something becoming of a "gentleman". It goes back to when officers were of the aristocracy and enlisted were commoners.

    When i see a gunny or senior enlisted with some good tattoos on his arm or whatever it inspires a bit of confidence. I think to myself, "wow, this guy seems pretty hard and must have been around."

    I have no problem with tattoos on any Marine or Sailor, enlisted or officer. If they dont have one then they should get one.

  15. #15
    I personally think that the tattoo policy is the most retarted subject. There are superior Marines that I have served with as well as many others throughout the Corps with 'sleeves'. Tattoos are an expression. Most of the time poeple get them to signify a point in their life, especially in the Infantry and Scout/Sniper Communities. The Corps can't even make damn mission in recruiting, and they are worried about what the cammies look like and tattoos! That makes sense.

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