On Tuesday, the Air Force announced that they are no longer limiting the size of tattoos on airmen’s bodies and are no longer enforcing the 25 percent rule.
Previously, airmen were not allowed to have tattoos on their chest, back, arms and legs that were larger than 25 percent of their exposed body parts. With the change, they can now have full sleeves on their arms and have large tattoos on other regions of their body.
Tattoos, body markings or brands on the head, neck, face, tongue, lips or scalp are still prohibited, according to an Air Force news release. Tattoos on the hand are limited to a single-band ring tattoo, on one finger. Airmen with existing hand tattoos that were authorized under the previous policy will be grandfathered in.
Tattoos that are discriminatory are also prohibited. This includes symbols related to hate groups, gangs, extremist groups, as well as those that advocate sexual, racial, ethnic or religious discrimination.
The Air Force said that they would preserve the ability to present a formal military image when required with dress uniforms at certain events.
The policy change will take effect on February 1.
“We identified specific changes we can make to allow more members of our nation to serve without compromising quality,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said in a statement.
“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,” Deborah Lee James added.
The policy change is a result of a review that the Air Force conducted earlier this year.
A review of Air Force field recruiters showed that almost half of recruits, contacts and applicants had tattoos. One in every five people looking at signing up had tattoos requiring review or that could be considered disqualifying, the Air Force said.