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Military Considers Crackdown On Tattoos, Manicures & Earrings

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We don't often think of strict military standards being decided over Facebook. But several weeks ago Sergeant Major Raymond F. Chandler III posted a proposal on his Facebook wall: do the army standards for personal appearance need to be stricter?

Chandler wrote:

Over the next few months, we will be revising AR 670-1. We are especially looking at Chapter 1, which deals with grooming standards. What parts of that chapter do you want to see changed? Give me your thoughts on earrings for females in ACUs, or if French-tipped fingernails should be allowed. What about tattoos? Do visible tattoos in ACUs (neck, hands, etc.) keep us from being professional Soldiers? Thanks again for all who voice their opinions but remember to keep it professional.

Chandler and his fellow military leaders are looking to tighten up the rules, he told the Army Times. "I believe that we can better visualize to the American people and the Army what it means to be an American soldier than we're doing now," he said.

One particular target is tattoos. Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald Riling, of Army Materiel Command, said to the Army Times, "The Army is a profession, and we need to relook [at] the tattoo policy. I don't like tattoos on the neck where they are visible. If they're not visible and they're covered up, I think that's a soldier's prerogative."

Some on Facebook commentators agreed, one writing, "No tattoos above the neck, behind the ear, or on the hands. it looks gang related and trashy. anything that can be covered in a class A uniform should not matter."

But others noted that the tattoo itself is no reflection on the individual, with one comment stating, "I don't think that if you have tattoos it means that you are unprofessional. Its [sic] the individual themselves that make them unprofessional in how they act."

Also up for debate: manicures. While we, style editors with no military background, immediately bristle at the thought of banning manis and pedis, some army women feel differently. Said one to the Army Times:

"We knew what we were sacrificing when we joined. This is the United States Army, and there is no time for 'pretty' here. I am a female NCO and while I embrace my womanhood, the bottom line upfront is that ponytails, French manicures, earrings, etc., will not enhance my ability to train and lead soldiers. In fact I believe it will negatively alter their view of me as a strong leader. Please don't empower me as a female, empower me as an NCO."

Read more about the debate at the Army Times and peruse some of the fascinating comments on Sergeant Major Raymond F. Chandler III's Facebook page.

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