POLITICS
11/19/2013 03:39 pm ET Updated Nov 21, 2013

'Ugly Women Are Perceived As Competent': Army PR Strategist

The U.S. Army should only show "ugly" to "average looking" women soldiers in its photos if it wants to send the right message to the public, an Army communications strategist said in an internal email obtained by Politico.

"In general, ugly women are perceived as competent while pretty women are perceived as having used their looks to get ahead," Col. Lynette Arnhart suggested to Army spokesmen and spokeswomen in an email about how to portray the Army's integration of women in combat roles.

“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)," Arnhart wrote. "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)."

Arnhart is deputy director of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command’s Analysis Center in Fort Leavenworth, Kan. She is in charge of developing a communications strategy related to the integration of women in combat roles.

Instead of having pretty women wearing makeup in it photos, for instance, Arnhart said that using a photo of women with mud on their faces "sends a much different message -- one of women willing to do the dirty work necessary in order to get the job done."

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) tweeted that the email was "absurd" and "horrible."

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