One Colonel steps down, one suspended after “average-looking women” flap

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One Colonel steps down, one suspended after "average-looking women" flap
Col. Lynette Arnhart objected to this image of Cpl Kristine Tejeda being used in advertisements in favor of more "average" looking women. Image credit: US Army, Pvt. Andrew Slovensky

By Shawn Von der Hellen

Colonel Lynnette Arnhart has agreed to step down from her duties as the lead in a study involving gender and the military, according to the military. Col. Arnhart recently wrote an internal email that said photos of attractive women should not be used in promotional materials.

George White, an Army spokesman, stated that General Robert Cone, commander of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, accepted the change in leadership so as to “protect” the continuing work of integrating the Army.

First reported by Politico this week, the content of the email said that “average-looking women” should be used by Army officials to draw women into combat roles.

Col. Arnhart was not the only official to step down because of the mess of controversy caused by the email. Colonel Christian Kubik, a public affairs officer also based at the Fort Eustis Army training center, was also suspended pending an investigation of the email.

According to Politico, Col. Kubik forwarded Col. Arnhart’s email to other public affairs officers. He warned that using photos that “glamorized” women would weaken the Army’s integration efforts.

This is only the latest in a string of controversial issues surrounding women and the military. Sexual assault and harassment are still ongoing concerns for officials without the added challenge of now seeming to discriminate against women who are so-called too good looking.

Combat is not for everyone and the military knows that. However, by suggesting that beautiful women are somehow above fighting while their less beautiful counterparts are not is a deranged viewpoint at best.

I personally know that the physical attractiveness is not the primary concern for our fighting forces, if it is a concern at all. And physical appeal shouldn’t be used in order to decide who to recruit. America should want the best and the brightest, not the average and ordinary.

So while Col. Arnhart’s ideas may have been written to prevent a slower developing female combat workforce she may have inadvertently done just that by writing an email that looks down on attractive and unattractive women alike.

 

 

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