Register NOW

One Woman’s Opinion on tattoos

By Liz Brown

The Army is drawing back on its tattoo restrictions. The policy, updated last year, restricted future enlisted soldiers and officers from having no more than four tattoos below the knee or elbow. What's more, tattoos could not be any larger than the soldier’s hand.

But Army officials have changed the plan. Soldiers can have tattoos on their arms and legs as long as the ink isn't visible in long-sleeve cammies.

This is a good thing, I think.

Yes, this is an opinion piece. And I think the automatic placement of negative perceptions on people who have tattoos is absurd. It is absurd, antiquated, and unfair.

Again, this is only one woman's opinion. A woman who has two tattoos, by the way. A woman who is married to a man whose arms are both nearly completely covered in ink. I love my husband's tattoos. They are all meaningful and they are all, quite literally, a part of who he is. Most of the SEALs in his former platoons had tattoos. The new guys who didn't were champing at the bit to get some done.

Why? Because they wanted to.

There a half a million reasons why a person might want to get a tattoo, but the only one the public needs to worry about is that he or she wanted ink and got it. Tattoos on women are not societal brands that declare them promiscuous. Tattoos on men are not brands that declare them morally reprehensible. Tattoos are art. Or a statement. Or whatever else the wearer wants them to be.

And they are also none of your business.

"But if it's none of my business," coworkers used to ask me, "why did you get ink done where everyone can see it?"

I got a tattoo on my left wrist so I'll see it every single day. When I look at it, I read the words, remember what it means, and do my best to live up to the expectation. Do you see how the general public does not figure into my plan at all?

Yet, judgment is passed by those who hold no stake. Studies have shown people who get tattoos run the risk of being viewed as less attractive, intelligent, trustworthy, and caring by others. And all because of generalizations.

Generalizations are dangerous. For those who are unconvinced, let me do some generalizing of my own.

Nearly every Navy SEAL I know has many, many tattoos. These men are the elite warriors you trust to do the incredibly dangerous job it takes to defend your freedom. On the other hand, many Islamic extremists condemn tattoos. From the oral tradition of the Prophet Muhammad: "It was narrated that Abu Juhayfah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: 'The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) cursed the one who does tattoos, and the one who has a tattoo done.'"

Are tattoos really the problem here?