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The Military, Tattoos and The X-Factor’s Vino Alan

I almost didn’t post this because it meant admitting I’m watching The X-Factor. The show is a train wreck, with Brittany Spears  delivering every line like she had Frosted Xanax Loops for breakfast, Khloe Kardashian fumbling with her mic as if she she’s not used to holding 10″ long oblong objects and Mario “Autopilot” Lopez maniacally grinning during tales of contestants’ personal tragedies.

The highlight of one show was Khloe falling into a trance and stroking a girl’s hair as if she was a cherished pet Pomeranian.

Strangely, something disturbed me more than The X-Factor‘s laughable hosts.  Contestant Vino Alan dedicated a performance to the U.S. Military and mentioned that he’d tried to join the Army, only to be denied due to his extensive tattoo collection.

I paused the TV and screeched “SERIOUSLY!??” to Mike,who sighed and resigned himself to my indignant tirade. As if it happens two or three times a day.

Admittedly, Vino does have some crazy tats, on his neck, face and his entire scalp. But the U.S. Military turning down able-bodied persons for body art? It was our very U.S. military men who embraced tattooing as a means of brotherhood, remembrance and a touch of menace.

In 2006, the Army relaxed their tattoo policy to allow people with ink on their hands and the back of their neck below the collar to join. Face, head and neck above the collar line still remains forbidden.

I understand why racist and otherwise inflammatory tattoos are forbidden. There are a lot of people who might not feel inclined to save the life of a soldier with a swastika on his forehead.  But a cheesy tribal tattoo over a guy’s eye (i.e. Mike Tyson), while regrettable, isn’t something that should cause trouble in the ranks. If anything, he’d be twice as menacing to the enemy, or, while the enemy is laughing at him, he might gain the upper hand.

I also understand why the military aims to instill a sense of propriety and order. Having a panther running across your cheek that you can’t hide beneath a t-shirt is a bit disorderly. But today people are nearly numb to the novelty of such tats, and if a guy with a teardrop under his eye has survived the streets to set himself on a new path via the military, I don’t think we should toss him back because of a little ink.

And yes, the potential enlisted person can opt to have the tattoo removed, but for many, the cost of removal could be out of reach or just enough of a hurdle to keep him or her from making a change. The military won’t pay for it.

This is all what I wanted to say. What I actually said was:

Me: That’s bullshit. Dude can’t fight for his country because he’s got a squiggly on his temple? And shit on his head that just looks like really, really flat hair?

Mike: Yep. You done?

Me: Yeah… NO! And January Jones is a shitty actress, but I like her on Mad Men and it’s confusing!

Mike: …?

Me: And the batteries in the Wii controllers go dead at an alarming rate!


Me: Now I’m done.

Mike: Maybe Vino HAS offensive tattoos. Have you read his scalp?

Me: No.

Mike: Exactly. Now hit play and give me the remote.

Me: Fine. Bullshit.

Amy Vansant

Amy Vansant

Amy Vansant is a USA Today and Wall Street Journal Best-Selling author specializing in fun, funny fiction --- even the murder mysteries.
Amy Vansant

22 Responses

  1. Lance

    the wii batteries are ridiculously weak. we replace them at least once every two weeks.

    I almost joined the air force in 1994. Now, I had a college degree and thus wanted to be an officer. Part of my paperwork stated that appearance could be grounds for denial and they listed things like piercings and excessive tattoos, although I don’t rmember if it said head or face.

    I have 8 tattoos. all of them are small to medium size and they’re in places likes biceps, hips, shoulder, etc, where I can cover them at work.

    wait…wth? You watch x factor?
    Lance recently posted..21st Century Digital Boy


  2. bill major

    hey ! lol i watch them all, here ,uk au and yes brittny spears is so bland, its like shes passing gas when she talks good lord


  3. jennifer

    Khloe Kardashian commentary = PURE GOLD

    PS Please keep watching XFactor and other crappy shows. My guilty pleasure is reading your take on it, rather than subjecting myself to watching (read: weeping for humanity).
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  4. Christian at Point Counter-Point Point Point

    Oh my god I’ve been telling people for years now that January Jones is the worst actress in Hollywood. Sure she’s fine for the part of Bettie in Mad Men but if you watch her in anything else you realize that she is doing the Bettie part in every role. i.e. every line is delivered as if she is just reading it off of a piece of paper for the first time. I actually wish they would write her off of Mad Men.

    Oh, and boo at the military for not accepting everyone regardless of tattoos.
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  5. Abby

    Dumb question, but is the policy based on the look or on the health aspect? I know you can’t donate blood, etc. if you’ve had a tattoo in the past year due to possible health complications and contamination or whatever. Either way it’s weird, but I don’t understand much about the military. Or why people watch X-Factor 😉
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    • Amy Vansant

      The look, because it only applies to certain areas. Blood problems don’t only occur above the collar. I think they just find it a little to wild and crazy for their sense of discipline, but come on… they soldiers, not yacht club managers.
      Amy Vansant recently posted..Petty Goals


  6. Stacey

    The military is all about standards. When they need to boost their numbers, they get a little more lax with some rules (like allowing tattoos on hands), but when recruiting is good, they can get more picky. Physical appearance is taken seriously. See what happens if you show up to formation with an earring in, stubble on your face, or your hair long enough to touch your ears.
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  7. Kristen

    Why does Brittany have to squint every time she speaks?

    I completely agree with you about the body art. Ridiculous on the part of the military!



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