You may have missed the most impactful detail on TIME’s ‘Person of the Year’ cover
TIME finally revealed its 2017 Person (or people) of the Year, but you may have missed one very important detail on the cover.
Dedicating the honor to “The Silence Breakers” — the many voices who spoke up against sexual harassment and assault this year — TIME‘s cover featured five prominent women in the movement: Ashley Judd, Taylor Swift, Susan Fowler, Adama Iwu, and Isabel Pascual, whose name was changed to protect her identity. Look again: It also includes the right elbow of someone anonymous.
In an interview on Wednesday, TIME Editor in Chief Edward Felsenthal discussed the woman whose face is obscured on Today, noting that she’s symbolic of all those women and men who have yet to come forward and may be struggling to do so for fear of repercussions.
“The image you see partially on the cover is of a woman we talked to, a hospital worker from the middle of the country, who doesn’t feel that she can come forward without threatening her livelihood,” Felsenthal said.
The anonymous symbolism references all voices involved in the movement, not simply prominent celebrities whose stories have been widely shared. Women in nearly every industry have spoken out about harassment, and thousands upon thousands have used the #MeToo hashtag to share their experiences on social media. That elbow represents each and every one of them.
In an interview with Buzzfeed News, TIME National Correspondent Charlotte Alter said the inclusion of the elbow was “very intentional,” adding that “a huge part of this story we’re trying to tell here 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 people to come forward.”
The anonymous representation certainly seems to be striking a positive chord with readers.
Notice the lower right corner of the @TIME cover.
That arm & elbow symbolizes a person who can’t come forward for fear of reprisal, losing their job…their voice & their truth matter too.
👇🏻Just a thought not a sermon👇🏻 https://t.co/JsFnuvS4qN
— Alt_SeanSpicer’sMic🎙🤦🏻♀️🎙 (@Alt_Spicerlies) December 6, 2017
TIME’s Kira Pollack wrote that the cover image — shot by photographer team Billy & Hells — was actually a composite of two photo shoots taking place in Los Angeles and San Francisco. “Beyond the cover image, Billy & Hells created a series of 24 photographs in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles over a 10 day period,” writes Pollack.
In the article describing the ‘Person of the Year’ decision, TIME explained how Judd, Pascual, Fowler, and Iwu gathered in San Francisco to meet and pose for the cover image. With them was this anonymous woman, described as “a young hospital worker who had flown in from Texas.”
“She too is a victim of sexual harassment but was there anonymously, she said, as an act of solidarity to represent all those who could not speak out,” TIME noted.
“From a distance, these women could not have looked more different. Their ages, their families, their religions and their ethnicities were all a world apart … But on that November morning, what separated them was less important than what brought them together: a shared experience.”
To learn more about the story behind TIME’s decision, check out the video below: