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Army Colonel: Use 'Average Looking Women' to Portray Female Soldiers

Image: Army Colonel: Use 'Average Looking Women' to Portray Female Soldiers

Tuesday, 19 Nov 2013 04:04 PM

The Army is looking for a few good "average looking women" to portray the right public image of a female soldier, according to an internal military email, Politico reported Tuesday.

"In general, ugly women are perceived as competent while pretty women are perceived as having used their looks to get ahead," wrote Col. Lynette Arnhart, who heads a team of analysts evaluating how best to integrate women into combat roles.

The images of women should be gritty, not pretty, she said.

A photo of a female soldier with mud on her face that news agencies used last spring about the integration of women in roles that were once closed to them "sends a much different message — one of women willing to do the dirty work necessary in order to get the job done," Arnhart said.

Col. Christian Kubik, chief of public affairs for the Army's Training and Doctrine Command, forwarded Arnhart's email to public affairs officers, adding his own note: "A valuable reminder from the TRADOC experts who are studying gender integration — when [public affairs officers] choose photos that glamorize women … we undermine our own efforts. Please use 'real' photos that are typical, not exceptional."

But some critics went on the defense, citing that it should not matter if a woman is pretty or average-looking as long as she's up to the task.

Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, tweeted that it was "another example that @US Army just doesn't get it as it debates if pretty girls should be used in pamphlets."

One Army source told Politico that Army culture has a long way to go before women are treated as equals. "It scares me to think that these are people involved in gender integration."

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