“In general, ugly women are perceived as competent while pretty women are perceived as having used their looks to get ahead,” wrote Col. Lynette Arnhart, who is leading a team of analysts studying how best to integrate women into combat roles that have previously been closed off to them. She sent her message to give guidance to Army spokesmen and spokeswomen about how they should tell the press and public about the Army’s integration of women.I just ... I mean ... what do you even do with this? Because, no, you don't want all of the women used to illustrate that women can be in the Army to look like they were chosen specifically to be hawt, a veritable Army of Barbies. But on the other hand, do you want the message to be that the only Army women worth showing are dirty, ugly ones? That women have to work twice as hard, or at least get twice as dirty as men to be accepted as competent?
“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 hazardous duty),” Arnhart said.
She wrote that a photo of a female soldier with mud on her face that news agencies used last spring “sends a much different message — one of women willing to do the dirty work necessary in order to get the job done.”
Here's a novel thought: How about if the Army, in its communications efforts, applies the same standard, whatever that may be, to pictures of women as it has been applying to men all along?