One top female Army officer is declaring war on showcasing good-looking women soldiers in Army public affairs materials.
Col. Lynette Arnhart, 47, took offense to a photo of Cpl. Kristine Tejada in full battle gear that was featured with a recent magazine article.
Tejada, of the 1st Cavalry division, looks too good, Arnhart says, so she emailed her colleagues to complain:
“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 a hazardous duty).”
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On the other hand, a picture of a female soldier with mud on her face circulated through the media last spring “sends a much different message – one of women willing to do the dirty work necessary in order to get the job done,” Arnhart argues.
The Colonel is currently running a study on the difficulty of shifting Army women to combat jobs.
Chief of public affairs for the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command Col. Christian Kubik supports Arnhart’s argument. Kubik forwarded the email to public affairs officials.
“Please use ‘real’ photos that are typical, not exceptional,” he wrote and added that the Army’s efforts are undermined when choosing “photos that glamorize women.”
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But Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) took offense to Arnhart’s email, tweeting that it was “another example that @USArmy just doesn’t get it as it debates if pretty girls should be used in pamphlets.”
Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) told the New York Daily News, “The fact that the Army is even debating how pretty they should make their soldiers is beyond the pale.”
“They need to get their priorities straight,” she added.
Sources: Politico, New York Daily News, Association of the U.S. Army