A rule that required airmen to have no more than 25 percent of their body parts covered with tattoos has been amended by the Air Force, WPXI reports.
The previous rule said "Air Force members (were) not allowed to display excessive tattoos that would detract from an appropriate professional image while in uniform," but the armed forces branch announced updated guidelines Tuesday.
"As part of our effort to attract and retain as many qualified airmen as possible, we periodically review our accessions policies," said Air Force secretary Deborah Lee James. "In this instance, we identified specific changes we can make to allow more members of our nation to serve without compromising quality. As a next step in this evolution, we are opening the aperture on certain medical accession criteria and tattoos while taking into account our needs for worldwide deployability and our commitment to the profession of arms."
The Air Force lifted the 25 percent coverage rule for the chests, backs, arms and legs for airmen and prospective servicemen. They'll also be allowed one single-band ring tattoo on one finger on one hand.
Air Force field recruiters said recent data shows that almost half of contacts, applicants and recruits as having tattoos, according to the official U.S. Air Force website.
"We are always looking at our policies and, when appropriate, adjusting them to ensure a broad scope of individuals are eligible to serve. These changes allow the Air Force to aggressively recruit talented and capable Americans who until now might not have been able to serve our country in uniform," said Chief Master Sgt. James A. Cody.
All tattoos that are obscene or associated with sexual, racial, ethnic or religious discrimination are still prohibited, as are tattoos on the head, neck, face, tongue, lips and/or scalp.
The new tattoo policy will be effective Feb. 1.