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The tattoo in question. (Credit: Estela Martin.)

Estela Martín was testing her swimming skills during an entrance exam for the Spanish army when a male examiner noticed a black lotus flower tattooed on the upper part of her right foot. She was told she could not complete the exam because the tattoo was visible, and that it would be particularly obvious were she to wear a skirt.

The Spanish army’s rules no longer required women to don skirts, however, and Ms. Martín was fully aware of this change in policy, which was re-solidified after her expulsion. The tattoo was not visible when Ms. Martín wore trousers — her typical choice of wardrobe during her service — and she argued she was within regulations, but the examiner refused to budge in his steadfastness against her tattoo, insisting she could one day receive orders to wear a skirt.

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