Marine Corps Tattoo Battle

A Maine woman is fighting to join the Marine Corps -- and she says the only thing holding her back is her tattoo, and and outdated dress code policy.

Kate Pimental has been trying to enlist in the Marine Corps, but has a tattoo on her clavicle, or upper chest/lower neck area.

The tattoo reads: "Let your smile change the world, but never let the world change you."

It's a tattoo that she can easily cover with a crew neck shirt.

"I kept it from my mom for the longest time," she laughed.

But the Marine dress code calls for women to wear V-neck tops, which would expose the area of Pimental's tattoo. Men have the option of wearing a crew neck shirt -- so a man with the same tattoo as Pimental could obtain a waiver and enlist.

"Right now, my tattoo is the only thing that's stopping me," said Pimental. "I'm really upset... I have really put my heart into the Marine Corps. I've always wanted to serve my country."

Unable to appeal the decision, Pimental turned to Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, who is now appealing to a General to change the dress code policy.

"When we heard about [Pimental's problem], we were shocked that there could be this double standard," said Pingree.

Last Friday, Pingree wrote a letter to Commandant General Robert Neller. She writes the policy is "an unintentional act of discrimination."

In an interview with NECN, Pingree said the current dress code and tattoo policy could send the wrong message to women wishing to serve their country.

"There's been so much discussion about women in combat," she said. "To bring it back and say it's a matter of appearance... it's kind of bizarre."

Contact Us