The U.S. will change its policy regarding women’s tattoos after U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Maine Democrat, lobbied for the change on behalf of a Kennebunk woman devastated to learn that her tattoo would keep her from enlisting.
When Kate Pimental turned 18, she got a tattoo that reads, “Let your smile change the world but never let the world change you.” That tattoo, in a semi-circle near her collarbone, would be covered by a white crew neck T-shirt under the standard uniform for men, but the women’s uniform is cut lower, formerly requiring a V-neck T-shirt.
Pingree wrote to Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the , on Feb. 19, objecting to a policy that she said was unintentionally discriminatory against women.
On Monday, Pingree received official notification from Neller that he has agreed to change uniform standards and allow female Marines to wear the same white crew neck T-shirt as men.
Pingree said Monday she is grateful to Neller for listening to her concerns and appreciates how quickly he acted to change the policy.
“This was a common-sense change and will allow bright, dedicated young women like Kate to serve their country proudly as a Marine,” Pingree said. “I don’t believe the old policy was intentionally discriminatory, but in the end it prevented women with some tattoos from enlisting when their male counterparts with the same tattoos were allowed to sign up.”
“Most people were kind of surprised when they read about it or heard about it. ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. A man could have a tattoo and cover it up, and women basically expose more skin — it doesn’t make sense,'” Pingree said. “Most people are grateful that women want to serve in the military. If you want to serve your country, this shouldn’t stand in [your] way.”
She said she hopes other branches of the military will follow suit and examine their policies to look for other potential gender-based inequities.
“There is nothing I want more than to be able to serve as a Marine,” Pimental said in a statement. “And I’m so grateful that [Rep.] Pingree stood up for me and helped get this policy changed.”
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