Nov. 21 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army is drawing some unfriendly fire about an email obtained by POLITICO recommending that photos of “average-looking women” should be used for stories about female soldiers.
The email, written by Col. Lynette Arnhart, was meant to advise Army spokespeople about how they should educate the public about the Army’s integration of women into combat.
“In general, ugly women are perceived as competent while pretty women are perceived as having used their looks to get ahead,” Arnhart wrote.
“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, the head of a team analyzing how to best integrate women into combat situations, wrote that a photo of a female soldier with mud on her “sends a much different message -- one of women willing to do the dirty work necessary in order to get the job done.”
Army spokesman George Wright said the comments “were an internal email conversation” and “not an Army position” in a statement.
In a story published by the Army, Arnhart was quoted as saying, “As we move toward integrating women into previously closed occupations, we must do so with the understanding that the leadership and culture of a unit -- the history, lineage and social dynamics -- are crucial to successfully dealing with changes that will occur.”