Pretty women send the wrong message. That’s the opinion of Col. Lynette Arnhart who’s job it is to figure out how to best integrate women into combat roles. Arnhart composed the following pearls of wisdom in an e-mail about photos included in army PR: “In general, ugly women are perceived as competent while pretty women are perceived as having used their looks to get ahead… 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.
In addition to the obvious inappropriateness of this message, it’s also incorrect. In general, research indicates that attractive people of both genders are perceived as more intelligent, more likely to be hired, and typically earn more money than their less attractive counterparts. However, attractive women do not fare as well at work as their attractive male counterparts. Stereotypes like those perpetuated by Arnhart are partially to blame. Given Arnhart’s lack of competence in this area, she must be beautiful – using her own logic, that is.