You’ve probably seen this year’s cover of Time honoring their person of the year—or, as is the case for 2017, the people who earned this award. Women like Susan Fowler, Adama Iwu, Ashley Judd, Tarana Burke and Isabel Pascual are all among those who make up “The Silence Breakers”, the people who spoke up and spoke out against sexual predators. Their voices sparked a global movement of “me too” solidarity and they are now being recognized for “giving voice to open secrets and for pushing us all to stop accepting the unacceptable.
But upon closer review of the cover image, you might have dismissed an elbow in the bottom right corner. It is almost completely cropped out of the picture. All that’s visible is a black jacket–clad elbow resting on the table. It is meant to symbolize the unnamed women who have not publicly come forward about their experiences.
Time national correspondent Charlotte Alter told BuzzFeed News on Wednesday this was a deliberate—and meaningful—artistic choice: It represents the women who shared their stories anonymously.
“In the bottom left of the cover, there is an arm where you just see the elbow and you don’t see the person,” Alter said. “That’s very intentional. That’s an anonymous woman who is a hospital worker who was experiencing harassment and didn’t feel that she could come forward [publicly].”
Several people have taken to Twitter to praise the powerful imagery of Time‘s Person of the Year cover.
— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) December 6, 2017
— AM2DM by BuzzFeed News (@AM2DM) December 6, 2017
As Alter explained, Time wanted to acknowledge that sexual misconduct spreads well beyond Hollywood and impacts women from all walks of life. She pointed to Isabel Pascual, a strawberry farmer who spoke out about the sexual harassment she faced in her job and noted that she shared her story under a pseudonym because she was afraid of retaliation.
“A huge part of this story is that, as much as the stigma around this has been removed this year because of the “Me Too” movement, it’s still really difficult for a lot of women to come forward, Alter continued.
As much as the stigma around this has been removed this year because of the “Me Too” movement, it’s still really difficult for a lot of women to come forward” -Charlotte Alter
“It’s important to include people who have to stay anonymous for professional reasons, who don’t have the resources to weather what would happen if they lost their job or they couldn’t support their families. So we wanted to include [these people] to really reference the risk that these women are taking by speaking out about this.”
It is refreshing that Time magazine has lent such a large platform to nurture the voice of women. Let’s use the momentum to inspire even more change.