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Does Army image need 'average-looking' women?

A U.S. Army colonel who wrote an email suggesting attractive women should not be portrayed in Army promotional materials stepped down from her job Friday.
/ Source: MSNBC TV

A U.S. Army colonel who wrote an email suggesting attractive women should not be portrayed in Army promotional materials stepped down from her job Friday.

The U.S. Army colonel who suggested “more average looking women” for Army promotional materials resigned from her post Friday. 

An internal Army email first leaked by Politico showed Colonel Lynette Arnhart arguing that using images of pretty women would undermine the military’s marketing strategy of introducing prospective female candidates to the “dirty work” of any combat role.  

“In order to protect the integrity of the ongoing work on gender integration in the Army, Col. Lynette Arnhart agreed to step down as the gender integration study director,” an Army spokesperson announced Friday. 

The recipient of Arnhart’s email, the public affairs officer at the Army Training and Doctrine Command, was also suspended.

Arnhart used the photo of Cpl. Kristine Tejada of the 1st Cavalry division on deployment in Iraq as the crux of her argument. Tejada’s photo was included in an article of the Nov. 2013 issue of Army magazine. 

Colonel Arnhart’s email stated that less attractive women are perceived as competent while attractive women are perceived to have used their looks to climb the ranks. 

“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), said Arnhart, who led an Army research project that analyzed how to improve the Army’s integration of women. ”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).”