Last Monday, Pergelator posted Soldiers concerning a young woman who was denied enlistment into the US Army because she had a tattoo on the back of her neck. Immediately, I thought of all the tattoos gracing the bodily parts of men in the US Navy. (I was an AMS-1 in the USNR 1980-1986.) Curious, I looked up the US Navy policy concerning grooming of sailors.
To my surprise, the young woman mentioned above would not have met US Navy policy. In BUPERS' (Bureau of Personnel's) Grooming Standards (updated online: 5/21/2014 3:26 PM) we are told (I have changed the most relevant part to red text):
7. TATTOOS/BODY ART/BRANDS. Four Criteria will be used to determine whether tattoos/body art/brands are permitted for Navy personnel: content, location, size and cosmetic.
a. Content. Tattoos/body art/brands located anywhere on the body that are prejudicial to good order, discipline, and morale or are of a nature to bring discredit upon the naval service are prohibited. For example, tattoos/body art/brands that are obscene, sexually explicit, and or advocate discrimination based on sex, race, religion, ethnic, or national origin are prohibited. In addition, tattoos/body art/brands that symbolize affiliation with gangs, supremacist or extremist groups, or advocate illegal drug use are prohibited.
b. Location. No tattoos/body art/brands on the head, face, neck, or scalp. The neck area for purposes of this regulation is any portion visible when wearing a crew neck T-shirt or open collar uniform shirt. In addition, otherwise permissible tattoos/body art/brands on the torso area of the body shall not be visible through white uniform clothing.
c. Size. Individual tattoos/body art/brands exposed by wearing a short sleeve uniform shirt shall be no larger in size than the wearer’s hand with fingers extended and joined with the thumb touching the base of the index finger. Pre-existing tattoos/body art/brands that exceed size criteria are waiverable provided they do not violate the content and/or location criteria.
d. Cosmetic. This regulation does not prohibit cosmetic tattooing to correct medical conditions requiring such treatment. For the purpose of this regulation, cosmetic tattooing refers to medical or surgical procedures conducted by licensed, qualified medical personnel.
As I've never had a tattoo, this part of the regs had never come to my attention. While I was at it, I read through the whole chapter and learned that the regs on wearing of earrings had not changed much, as far as I know. (I did not have pierced ears until 15 years later, but I happen to somewhat remember the regs on the wearing of them.) The Grooming Standards tell us:
6. JEWELRY. Conservative jewelry is authorized for all personnel and shall be in good taste while in uniform. Eccentricities or faddishness are not permitted. Jewelry shall not present a safety or FOD (Foreign Object Damage) hazard. Jewelry shall be worn within the following guidelines:
a. Rings. While in uniform, only one ring per hand is authorized, plus a wedding/engagement ring set. Rings are not authorized for wear on thumbs.
(1) Men. Not authorized while in uniform. Additionally, earrings are not authorized in civilian attire when in a duty status or while in/aboard any ship, craft, aircraft, or in any military vehicle or within any base or other place under military jurisdiction, or while participating in any organized military recreational activities. When considered appropriate by the prescribing authority under article 7201.2, earrings may be prohibited while in foreign countries.
(2) Women. One earring per ear (centered on earlobe) may be worn while in uniform. Earrings shall be 4mm - 6mm ball (approximately 1/8 - 1/4 inch), plain with shiny or brushed matte finish, screw on or with posts. Gold for officers/CPOs, and silver for enlisted personnel. Small single pearl earrings are authorized for wear with Dinner and Formal Dress uniforms.
What I did not recall was that the metals were prescribed for officers/CPOs (Chief Petty Officers) and for enlisted personnel. I would have been authorized to wear silver. Note the inversion of the status of gold versus silver in this case, recalling that in general, silver outranks gold in US military insignia. Never having owned Dinner or Formal Dress uniforms, I would never have been able to wear pearl earrings.
For obvious safety reasons, as a mechanic (AMS-1 is Aircraft Mechanic, Structural - Petty Officer First Class), I wore no jewelry while on duty. This is a photo of a rating badge like the one I wore on short-sleeved white uniform shirts.