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"Be All That You Can Be"— unless you are beautiful, that is. A high-level strategist working to shape the Army's PR message about women in combat has recommended that their publicity photos and pamphlets feature "ugly" or "average looking" women.
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In a leaked email obtained by Politico, Col. Lynette Arnhart, who has served in the military since 1989, wrote, "In general, ugly women are perceived as competent while pretty women are perceived as having used their looks to get ahead." She added that the Army typically selects publicity shots with attractive-looking women and attached an article with an example. "Such photos undermine the rest of the message (and may even make people ask if breaking a nail is considered hazardous duty)." Instead, she suggested, a photo of a woman with a mud-streaked face, for example,"sends a much different message—one of women willing to do the dirty work necessary in order to get the job done."
The email was originally sent to two recipients, including Col. Christian Kubik, chief of public affairs for the Army's Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), who forwarded it to the other public affairs officers in his division, along 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."
Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democrat from California, jumped on Twitter to denounce the email:
Read on for more.