Germany: Army outlaws bushy beards and rude tattoos

A bushy beard Image copyright Thinkstock

The German defence ministry has issued new rules on how soldiers should look. "Pornographic" tattoos, ostentatious piercings and bushy beards have all been outlawed, it seems.

"Ordinance A.26301.1l, on the Appearance of Federal Troops" caught the eye of military blogger Thomas Wiegold - "something of a weathervane of army opinion" according to Der Spiegel magazine. The 200-plus comments from soldiers on his blog post outnumber those on more serious issues.

As well as the ban on mohawks and bushy beards, new rules on tattoos proved particularly controversial. They are permitted, but "discriminatory, pornographic and unconstitutional" images must always be covered up when soldiers are in uniform. The rule applies even if they appear on the hands, neck or face - which, as the comments note, could prove difficult.

Tubular piercings in the mouth must be removed, and those in ears must be covered with "fleshtone material". Magnetic implants are forbidden altogether.

It is not clear how the army intends to implement the regulations, but the Der Spiegel expects more guidelines to follow soon.

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