Battle Rattle

Colonel advises Army to use pictures of ‘average-looking women’ with stories about female soldiers in combat

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The Army colonel in charge of that service’s review on opening roles to women in combat, sent an email instructing public affairs to uses photos of “average-looking women” in place of those who might be viewed as too pretty for the warzone.

The Army colonel in charge of that services review on opening combat jobs to women suggested that this photo of Cpl. Kristine Tejeda was too pretty to accompany stories on the topic. She wrote in an internal email that "ugly women are perceived as competent," and public affairs personnel should keep that in mind when illustrating stories on women in combat roles.  ( Pvt. Andrew Slovensky/Army)

The Army colonel in charge of their review on opening combat jobs to women suggested that this photo of Cpl. Kristine Tejeda was too pretty to accompany stories on the topic. She wrote in an internal email that “ugly women are perceived as competent,” and public affairs personnel should keep that in mind when illustrating stories on women in combat roles.
( Pvt. Andrew Slovensky/Army)

Army Col. Lynette Arnhart, who leads the team of analysts considering what combat roles to open to women, sent an email indicating that images of “nice looking” female soldiers could undermine their communication strategy, Politico reported, after obtaining a copy of the email.

“In general, ugly women are perceived as competent while pretty women are perceived as having used their looks to get ahead,” Arnhart wrote.

The colonel included an attachment of an article that recently ran in Army Magazine. The woman photographed was shown wearing makeup on a deployment. She said some might question whether the woman in the photo could hack it in the warzone.

“Such photos undermine the rest of the message (and may even make people ask if breaking a nail is considered hazardous duty),” Arnhart wrote.

She suggested that using a photo of a female soldier with mud on her face “sends a much different message — one of women willing to do the dirty work necessary in order to get the job done,” Politico reported.

But the photograph in question wasn’t one shot in a studio somewhere — it was a photo of an actual soldier, Cpl.  Kristine Tejeda, with 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, while she provided security in Iraq in 2011.

Still, her message was forwarded on by the chief of public affairs for the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, or TRADOC, Politico reported. He forwarded it to all public affairs officers with the command.

“A valuable reminder from the TRADOC experts who are studying gender integration — when [public affairs officers] choose photos that glamorize women … we undermine our own efforts,” he wrote. “Please use ‘real’ photos that are typical, not exceptional.”

Marine Corps Times checked in with Marine Corps public affairs to see whether they’ve received similar guidance surrounding their Women in Service Review. Capt. Maureen Krebs, a Marine spokeswoman at the Pentagon, said the guidance they’re giving is to take a responsible, deliberate and measured approach as they conduct their review.

“There has been no public affairs guidance given regarding photos,” she said.

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  1. Tom Says:
    November 19th, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    Is the photo in question really someone pulling security? The people in the background are not wearing body armor, a rifle is slung, and the guy leaning against the pole has no visible weapon.

  2. dan Says:
    November 19th, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    First of all, combat is no place for women. I’ve witnessed the disgusting attempt at “combat” the FET teams perpetrated. Secondly, why is a female Colonel, (who clearly has never been in combat, nor works a MOS dealing with anything in combined arms) calling the shots on what jobs should or shouldn’t open themselves up to women? what are her qualifications and experience with combat and the requirements to wage war? How many times has she strapped on a 100 pound ruck plus a full combat kit and a weapon? how would she possibly understand the dynamic of the tight-knit brotherhood that is the infantry, when she is so far removed from the social culture of the ground troops all the way up there in officer land. This is why our country is failing; we are letting all of the wrong people make all of the decisions.

  3. The Army Wants Pictures of ‘Average-Looking Women’ – Jaylemieux Says:
    November 19th, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    […] According to Battle Rattle, a Military Times blog, the photo that prompted this guidance was of a female soldier providing […]

  4. BG Says:
    November 19th, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    LOOOOOOL “pulling security” at Ur? Seriously?! We used to go hang out at that ziggurat back in the early days without having to worry about anything.

    And this Colonel is telling the absolute truth. The military photographers go out of their way to find the above average women. Especially in the last year or so. Any decent looking woman near any sort of weapon is considered the “photo op” to seize. Don’t get offended, photographers. If you aren’t guilty of it, you know of four or five people in your job that do it. People shocked and appalled by this are doing nothing more than denying the facts.

  5. Battle Rattle » Colonel advises Army to use pictures of ‘average-looking women’ with stories about female soldiers in combat | U.S. Special Army Cadets Program news Says:
    November 20th, 2013 at 3:38 am

    […] Battle Rattle » Colonel advises Army to use pictures of ‘average-looking women’ with stories ab…. […]

  6. JRC Says:
    November 20th, 2013 at 8:32 am

    BG speaks the truth and so does the Colonel. The shot published in this story is staged. That young CPL was likely ordered to put makeup and battle rattle on to have her picture taken. “Ugly” women, if that’s in fact was was said in the email, are perceived as competent because there is no distractors for them like the attraction of unwanted and some welcomed, advances by 100 of her peers. Sex is sex, it will happen, and if one of the Soldiers is pretty and gets involved with a superior, it deteriorates morale in combat. Don’t pretend like this doesn’t happen, because it does. It’s rampant in MOSs with large female numbers. I’m all for equality, but it won’t be until you can keep physical attraction out of the equation. Perhaps an all female unit? I don’t know…maybe one of the overpaid generals can come up with something. Oh, and this article/blog is so one-sided it’s like they didn’t even try to hide how sensationalistic and unprofessional they are. It’s garbage and I hope the Col. Looks into legal ways to put you in the dump.

  7. Alberto Tejeda Says:
    November 20th, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    Ok JRC, actually this photo was not staged. this deployment happened from Feb2011-Nov2011.. she always wore make up but it didn’t stop her from completing her missions, she did not get to where she was by using her looks, her hard work and dedication did and I know this because I was her husband since she was a PFC at schofield barracks, Hawaii. She was my spouse at the time of the deployment. she was assigned to a PSD platoon during the deployment, and completed foot patrols that other male soldiers would not. attended the air assault course, maintained a 290+ APFT average.. just because this picture portrays a good looking soldier, it doesn’t mean that that’s all she is.

  8. WMOfficer Says:
    November 20th, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Apparently some men are not going to accept the changing role of women in the military until they turn into men. Choosing “average” looking women for photo ops only continues to force women to downplay their natural femininity. Why can’t a woman be feminine and pretty and still complete her mission? I think for anyone to think that they can’t is sexist and downgrading to women. Its not the pretty women who have the issues, its the men that they are surrounded by. Pretty women shouldn’t have to change, the men around them need to become more professional. Men in support MOS’s aren’t asked to become better looking and more feminine, so why should women in combat arms MOS’s be asked to become men? @JRC – if senior males are having sex with their junior troops, then they need to be disciplined. Just because a woman is pretty doesn’t give any man the right to forget their core values and the UCMJ.

  9. MarineO Says:
    November 20th, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Oohrah WMOfficer!!!

  10. ladyleatherneck Says:
    November 21st, 2013 at 1:36 am

    WMOfficer….thank you for responding. When we start looking at others for their competence and not judge because of gender we will all be better off. Wearing makeup has nothing to do with one’s competency. Professionalism is what is needed from all levels and all ages.

  11. Darius Says:
    November 21st, 2013 at 7:13 am

    WMOfficer, not sure if you read the article or just jumped to conclusions based on your own agenda, but the Colonel in question here was a female. You can make the assumotions that you want, I am sure you may claim combat experience from a laughable lioness team, but in reality women do not belong in direct combat jobs. After wwatching a team of females refusing to get out of a hummer during an ambush despite a 1stSgt telling them to.. I knew then and there it would never work. Then came the team who refused to move until a company CO had an air resupply of sanitary napkins and midol. These are Marines by the way. Say what you want, to those of us who know better there will never be equality in these jobs. Women can not handle it, and if they lower the standards itmputs us all at risk. Oh, and please lecture me about the girls who just got through SOI. SOI is a joke, it is the second easiest thing to do o the path to being a grunt.

  12. Isaac Navarro Says:
    November 24th, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    this has nothing to do with her being a women, but i’m pretty sure that this soldier isn’t even pulling security, nobody else in the photo has any PPE. And on top of that, this damn soldier has a freaking label from a label maker on her damn weapon with her name on it. What the hell happened? Did she or someone else lose their weapon and she’s paying the price for it? Do we not even memorize our serial numbers anymore. I’m not making any assumptions but based off of this picture, i’d say there is a 50/50 percent chance that weapon is also dummy corded to her PPE. What do you warriors think?