The U.S. Army is saying a colonel’s email recommending that the female soldiers pictured in PR photos are “average-looking” is not its official stance.
The comments were “were an internal email conversation” and “not an Army position,” spokesman George Wright told Politico
A source leaked the original email from Col. Lynette Arnhart, which read, in part, “In general, ugly women are perceived as competent while pretty women are perceived as having used their looks to get ahead.”
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There is a general tendency to select nice looking women when we select a photo to go with an article (where the article does not reference a specific person). It might behoove us to select more average looking women for our comms strategy. For example, the attached article shows a pretty woman, wearing make-up while on deployed duty. Such photos undermine the rest of the message (and may even make people ask if breaking a nail is considered hazardous duty).
Arnhart, who is the head of a team focusing on how to integrate women into combat, originally sent the email to only two people. One of those recipients, Col. Christian Kubik, chief of public affairs for the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, forwarded the message to all public affairs officers working with the command, with a note asking them to use photos that are “typical, not exceptional.”
This tweet embodies much of the online criticism of Arnhart’s suggestion:
And here’s a comment from Politico
(found within considerable debate over whether women can or should be soldiers at all): “Somebody in the Armed Forces has way too much time on her hands if she has to worry about the looks of our female soldiers.”