Army Colonel Seeking “Ugly” Women For Ads Because They’re Perceived as More Competent

Iraqi FreedomThere’s a lot of talk about the better looking a person is, the more likelier they are to land jobs.

Not so when it comes to the U.S. Army, apparently. As Yahoo Shine reports, “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.”

Politico got its hands on an email written by Col. Lynette Arnhart who aims to change the perception of women in the army by suggesting that it use average looking women to pass along the message that women are getting the job done in the army.

Because, you know, pretty women are too worried about breaking a nail or something. Arnhart’s email says “In general, ugly women are perceived as competent while pretty women are perceived as having used their looks to get ahead.”

Apparently using photos of those attractive woman sends the wrong message. “Such photos undermine the rest of the message (and may even make people ask if breaking a nail is considered hazardous duty).” Arnhart wants average-looking women with muddy faces because that “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, a Democrat from California blasted the email on Twitter:

Pretty women perceived as not competent by #Army colonel. Great message #Pentagon sending out @ForChuckHagel. Horrible! @BarackObama — Jackie Speier (@RepSpeier) November 19, 2013

And, as Yahoo notes, an unnamed Army spokesperson told Politico,”It scares me to think that these are people involved in gender integration.”

At first blush, Arnhart’s comments seem offensive. But maybe she isn’t wrong. Focusing on a woman’s physical appearance as it pertains to advertising products or businesses is certainly nothing new, so why is this even making news? Do we dissect the choices of women used to advertise for Victoria’s Secret? They have large racks, tiny waists and legs that don’t stop. We accept this so why can’t we accept that the U.S. Army has a different requirement for women featured on its ads because they’re trying to send a different message about women?

What about you? Do you think Arnhart’s comments are horrible or just the same old objectification of women in media we see every day, only from the other side of the coin?


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