The Army should use images of average-looking women in public relations materials geared toward female soldiers, according to an internal memo that leaked Tuesday.
Col. Lynette Arnhart, who is spearheading a study on how best to incorporate women into the promotional materials, sent the memo to two people, including Col. Christian Kubik, chief of public affairs for the Army's Training and Doctrine Command.
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"In general, ugly women are perceived as competent while pretty women are perceived as having used their looks to get ahead," Arnhart wrote, according to the memo obtained by Politico.
"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)."
Kubik then forwarded the email to all public affairs officers with the following note:
"A valuable reminder from the TRADOC experts who are studying gender integration — when [public affairs officers] choose photos that glamorize women (such as in the attached article), we undermine our own efforts. Please use 'real' photos that are typical, not exceptional."
The memo immediately sparked outrage on social media.
Army spokesman George Wright told Politico that the "average-looking women" photo request was contained in an internal email conversation and "not an Army position."
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