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Marines making it easier for women to cover up tattoos

In this Feb. 23, 2016 self-made photo provided by Kate Pimental, in Kennebunk, Maine, Pimental displays a tattoo just below her collarbone that says, "Let your smile change the world but never let the world change you." The U.S. Marine Corps has a policy about visible tattoos.

Kate Pimental, AP

AUGUSTA, Maine -- The U.S. Marine Corps is making it easier for women to cover up tattoos by allowing them to wear crew-neck undershirts beneath their uniforms.

The Marines made the change Thursday after U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree complained that its dress policy unintentionally discriminated against female recruits. Men are allowed to wear crew-neck T-shirts.

Last month, the Democrat from Maine urged the Marine Corps to amend its rules and accept 20-year-old Kennebunk resident Kate Pimental. She has a tattoo just below her collarbone that says, "Let your smile change the world but never let the world change you."

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In this undated self-made photo provided by Kate Pimental, in Kennebunk, Maine, Pimental wears a crew-neck T-shirt that covers a tattoo just below her collarbone that says, "Let your smile change the world but never let the world change you."
Kate Pimental

The Marine Corps has a strict policy on tattoos -- especially visible tattoos. Recruits can have no more than four tattoos, and they cannot contain any vulgar, racist, sexist or anti-American words or images or references to drugs. Additionally, sleeve tattoos that cover the arm are prohibited, as are visible tattoos on the neck.

The altered dress code means Pimental can now cover her tattoo, which she got shortly after turning 18.

"There is nothing I want more than to be able to serve as a Marine," she said.

Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, said in letter to Pingree that changing the dress code so qualified women applicants like Pimental can join the Marines will "add to the strength and power of today's Marine Corps."