Army's War on Pretty Women Disrespects Brave Female Soldiers

Pretty Army soldierYou've heard that old saying about good intentions, right? The road to hell is paved with them. And that's exactly where Col. Lynette Arnhart is sitting right now -- in a hell of a lot of trouble. The high ranking Army officer is behind the US military's "war" on pretty soldiers.

To be honest, when I first heard that an Army officer had called for "more average-looking women" in public affairs materials, I figured it was a man. Perhaps that's sexist in and of itself, but as a woman, you'll excuse me for being a touch jaded about how often my gender is judged for our looks. When I found out Col. Arnhart was a female, her demands began to make more sense.

The Colonel referred to the image above of Cpl. Kristine Tejada of the 1st Cavalry division, who was photographed while on deployment in Iraq. Tejada is, no doubt, a beautiful woman. She's also pretty badass in her full regalia. But Arnhart worried about the message her gorgeous face would send to the masses. As she said of the ad:

[It] 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).

What's more, she continued:

In general, ugly women are perceived as competent while pretty women are perceived as having used their looks to get ahead ... It might behoove us to select more average looking women for our [communications] strategy.

It's ... inappropriate and rude to women as a whole, but especially to Tejada. Judging "pretty" women based solely on their appearance is no less demeaning than doing so for women who don't fit society's beauty mold.

That said, I'm not quite as angry as the rest of the world at Anhart today. The Colonel isn't a monster. If anything, she sounds to me like a woman who is sick and tired of the notion that women need to be prettied up in order to appeal to the rest of the world.

It IS important for the Army, and for private companies too, to take a look at their "models" and the message that they're sending when they don't mix things up a bit by presenting women of different sizes, colors, and "beauty" standards.

And yet, the Army AND those companies need to recognize that all-inclusiveness truly means all.

If a "pretty" woman is out there busting her ass for her country, she certainly deserves JUST AS MUCH respect as any other soldier.

What do you think of Arnhart's comments? Did she mean well but come about it the wrong way, or is there no saving this?


Image via Association of the US Army

moms matter, military, feminism


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

Rhodin Rhodin

Are they sure she's wearing makeup?  My screen's a bit small to tell, but it doesn't look like she is.


You should have had a pic. of the Col., she's no portrait . Women love to to stick it to other women,heck, I just did. Women can be both attractive and smart. Sounds like she has the preconceived idea that pretty =dumb.

wamom223 wamom223

I think what she said about the make up made since and everything else was BS.  All she had to say is its ridiculous to put make up on these woman as they wouldn't wear it in these situations but she wanted to make a point.  It is sad to me that women are most times their own worst enemies.

Michelle Rhodes

I have no doubt Cpl Tejada could kick Col Arnhart's ass and teach her a thing or two. Has the good Colonel ever been in a war zone outside the FOB? I would suspect not. Looks?! Seriously?! What counts is that the women who wear our military uniforms do so with honor, and for that they are all beautiful. Period.
~ mother of a 1st Cav Iraq War veteran

Jim Lee

Since EVERY woman who wears a Military Uniform is beautiful, the Col's statement don't mean SH*T

la_be... la_bella_vita

I think it's a great picture.

dusky... dusky_rose

Why would anyone bother wearing makeup while deployed? I think that they would have more important things to worry about.

sukainah sukainah

Yes, I agree, they shouldn't be wearing makeup while deployed.  It's not that kind of a job.  They are there to serve.  Her comments I don't agree with, but I'm glad she is serving for us.

Kmakk... Kmakksmom

I agree with what PPs are saying about makeup. I think that putting on makeup is the last thing on these ladies' minds when they are helping fight a war.

Desir... Desirae1394

I have a hard time picturing these women warriors wearing makeup. I wonder what their calling makeup too though. Is a tinted moisturizer makeup? 

I think she was well intentioned but poorly worded. I may not agree with what she had to say, but I can try to see her perspective and see that she was well intentioned. 

1-10 of 30 comments 123 Last