This morning I came across an article on Politico exposing an internal Army communication about how to effectively depict women in combat. I've tried to move past it, but for some reason I can't stop thinking about how silly it is to debate the issue.
The email, written by a woman, says that "ugly women are perceived as competent while pretty women are perceived as having used their looks to get ahead."
Therefore, she explains, only photos of "average-looking women" should be used to depict women in combat. She then uses an example of an AUSA article with a female Cav soldier deployed to Iraq to show how pretty soldiers aren't taken seriously.
"Such photos undermine the rest of the message (and may even make people ask if breaking a nail is considered hazardous duty),” writes Col. Lynette Arnhart in the email.
Here's what I don't understand. I spend quite a bit of time out with soldiers and I have seen plenty of female soldiers doing great things. And the Army has soldiers designated to take photos and tell the Army story. Surely photos exist of females doing their job. These women are, after all, part of the Army story.
Why should we debate their attractiveness before using their photo? Does the Army also do this when selecting how to depict men in combat? I feel like the answer is no.
Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here. You can contact Rose L. Thayer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.