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Army responds after leak of internal e-mail about using “average-looking women” in photos

Posted on: 11:51 am, November 20, 2013, by , updated on: 12:28pm, November 20, 2013

The photo that started the controversy. (U.S. Army)

The photo that started the controversy. (U.S. Army)

The Army has responded after an internal Army e-mail regarding the use of “average-looking women” in Army photos, was leaked to Politico.

According to Politico, Col. Lynette Arnhart is leading a team of analysts studying how best to integrate women into combat roles that have previously been closed off to them.

“In general, ugly women are perceived as competent while pretty women are perceived as having used their looks to get ahead,” wrote Col. Arnhart.

“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),” Col. Arnhart said.

She apparently sent her message to two people to give guidance to Army spokesmen and spokeswomen about how they should tell the press and public about the Army’s integration of women.

According to Politico, one of the two recipients was Col. Christian Kubik, Chief of Public Affairs at US Army Training and Doctrine Command. He forwarded the email to all public affairs officers supporting TRADOC with the 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 Army responded to the Politico article in a tweet, saying the article was citing an internal e-mail and that it did not reflect an official Army position.

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