Of the many powerful women who have graced the cover of TIME magazine in it’s near century existence, only one was in her underwear.
Beyonce Knowles-Carter is a wonderful choice for the cover of this year's "100 Most Influential People" issue, hitting stands this week. In addition to having sold over 118 million records in her solo career (and another 60 million with the girl group Destiny's Child), she has won 17 Grammy Awards and been nominated for a Golden Globe for her stellar role in Dreamgirls. Add to that dossier her credits as fashion designer, social activist, working mother and self-proclaimed "modern day feminist", and it is impossible to find her undeserving of the title. Why, then, is the often politically and fiscally skewed magazine showcasing only her sex appeal on their dramatic cover?
I've taken a look back at many issues of TIME featuring women on their covers, including this one published less than a month after I was born.
Clearly we've come a long way since the mid-1970's, but likely too far. While Sheryl Sandberg's 2013 cover below may have played on the 1980's Pantene "Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful" advertising campaign, I'm (somewhat) surprised we didn't have to see her in the shower.
Even this 2006 cover of country music sensation the Dixie Chicks demonstrates their gritty attitude and strong views on patriotism, but not without highlighting their toned physique and crazy sexuality.
None of us needs to be told that sex sells, but what we may benefit from is a reminder that so do other things. I prefer the Dixie Chicks image over any other that I researched because of the balance it strikes between sexuality and strength. It doesn't ignore the appeal of their feminine bodies, but uses them as a pedestal on which to exhibit other qualities that complete their character.
Many years ago, my mother started a fine tradition of saving important television news clips on VHS in a collection for her children as a keepsake. Little could she have known back then that the same clips she rushed to chronicle in real time would later become available at the click of a mouse, but the sentiment was perfect. I have since started saving important print media for my own children (both girls), as while the digital copies will be easy to reprint for all of eternity, nothing can replace the feel of a half-century old newspaper.
At first I was tempted to toss Beyonce's TIME cover, but have since had a change of heart. Raising strong, well-balanced, emotionally secure women (and perhaps continuing on the road to become one myself) isn't about shielding ourselves from messages that upset or offend our ideal. Instead, it is about embracing those differences in opinion and educating ourselves and others about them so one can truly become influential.
Rock on, Sasha Fierce.